If that doesn't help recruiting in NY what will?
DOHERTY USES REX EFFECTS
By TIM SULLIVAN
THEY GIVE A HOOT: Former North Carolina coach and Long Island native Matt Doherty now leads the Florida Atlantic Owls, but he insisted on bringing former Net Rex Walters (left) with him as an assistant.
February 10, 2006 – REX WALTERS was a 1993 Nets first-round pick because he could flat-out bury the basketball. He wasn't much of a distributor, nor did he tangle with the bigs.
He was a shooter. And a good one.
But he had help. Coaches designed offenses around him; teammates set picks for him. They all contributed.
Last spring, he returned the favor.
"I owe him, no question," said former North Carolina and Notre Dame head coach Matt Doherty, who now holds the same title at previously unknown Florida Atlantic University. "We have a diamond in the rough here."
It was almost Walters' jewel alone.
You see, Doherty called FAU on behalf of Walters, 35, a friend who sought his first head job after two years as a Valparaiso assistant. Doherty ? an assistant at Kansas when Walters was a senior All-American guard there ? figured his endorsement might help.
"But it didn't seem like it was going to work," Walters said. "They wanted a national name, someone with head coaching experience. Basically, they wanted Matt Doherty."
He was right. The Owls indeed made a pitch for the East Meadow, L.I., native. And with the blessing of Walters on April 18, 2005, Doherty, 43, returned to the coaching fraternity for the first time since being unceremoniously fired by UNC in 2003.
"I just looked at it as helping Rex. I had no idea it would work out this way," said Doherty, who went 22-15 in one season with the Irish and 53-43 in three years with the Tar Heels. "But, before I took it, I gave one condition ? that I bring Rex with me as an assistant. I wanted to go with someone I trusted."
Walters agreed and together they have turned this Boca Raton commuter school of 26,000 into one of the nation's surprise stories. The Owls ? coming off three consecutive losing seasons ? are 11-11, but are 10-5 in the Atlantic Sun. They have a legitimate shot at the conference title and subsequent NCAA tourney bid.
"I can't tell you how much fun it's been," said Doherty, who was a TV analyst while many of the Heels he recruited were winning the national title last year. "This is not North Carolina, where millions of people care. Not as many people care here. We take that as a challenge and we're enjoying it."
There wasn't much joy in Doherty's final days at Chapel Hill. He went 27-36 in the last two seasons and was replaced at his alma mater by Roy Williams.
"I'm still disappointed in how that turned out for Matt," Walters said. "They knew, with young guys, they were going to take a hit there. But, it's over, and I'm just glad he's back in the game. College basketball needs him."
FAU does, too. The Owls, who have seen their attendance nearly double, have been featured in several national publications and were even the focus of a reality TV show titled "The Season."
It's too bad the program aired on ESPN and not CBS, because in the college basketball world, Matt Doherty is clearly a "Survivor."
illinoisowl saidIt was nice of the Post to say attendance doubled and leave it at that. People that read this might think it doubled from 5,000 to 10,000.
The writer has likely never been to FAU, yet has to add that derogatory comment - an insult to the thousands of students who live and learn on campus. FAU has more people on campus than many of the A-Sun schools have in total.
I hope the SID and marketing people at FAU are writing to educate the media on how to properly describe the school.