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April 3, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, April 3rd, 2003

by Jon Gonzalez

A day after Matt Doherty was fired… errr, resigned from his post as UNC head basketball coach, one thing has become abundantly clear: the brass running the athletic program at UNC knows a whole lot more than anyone on the outside will ever know. But if there is anything that can be read between the lines, it is that it seems the inmates were running the asylum at UNC.

OK, so he wasn’t pushed out because of the team’s performance on the court. According to UNC athletic director Dick Baddour, there were “leadership issues” that Baddour has yet to expound on. So it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly Doherty did to fall out of favor with the administration and the players. So if the outside world doesn’t have much specifics to go on with Matt Doherty, we are all left to assume that it was a case of players not being to handle a hard-nosed coach.

Let us not be fooled, if Matt Doherty had won 20 games in each of the past three seasons, he would be seen as a master motivator and no one on the outside would give a second thought to what the players thought about him. But struggle, and players who expect to win at UNC probably become so disenfranchised that blaming the coach seems like the thing to do. Doherty was hard and the Heels were losing, so why not dislike the coach and view him as a total jerk. Again, on the surface, it seems like prima donna basketball players who came to UNC because of the name on the jersey and not the coach tired of their coach’s personality and decided they were too good for him.

What ever happened to being a man? College is supposed to be a learning ground for the real world. If these kids were working in the business world and did not like their boss, crying about how much of jerk he or she was would not make like any better for them. And the letters from the parents! What? Was Doherty that evil that some UNC players just had to cry to their parents and provoke them to write letters. Did Bobby Knight have players cry to their parents about him? How many letters were written on his behalf? But the difference was the Knight is a winner while Doherty has struggled. Maybe instead of looking for a new coach, UNC should look for men instead of boys to play basketball.

But as I said before, this is what seems apparent. The reality might be different. Maybe Doherty is an evil man that evokes hatred and discontent. Maybe he’s a just a total jerk. But while this is a possibility, this is probably not the reality. The bottom line is that Doherty didn’t win and players became unhappy. Thus, the team who has been singing the Carolina blues has finally gotten its wish. Hopefully for UNC, Doherty’s relationship issues will be nothing more than an aberration.

Side Dishes

Almost in Westwood: According to the LA Times Wednesday edition, everything is in place for Ben Howland to take over Steve Lavin’s old job as UCLA head coach. It would be hard for Howland to turn down UCLA. The job is one of the best in the country and would be a great opportunity for Howland, who is from California. If Howland does indeed leave, he would want to take assistants Jamie Dixon and Chris Carlson with him. Dixon is also rumored to be a candidate for the Pitt job should it become available.

Ed’s In: East Tennessee State coach Ed DeChellis will leave his post with the Bucs to take over at Penn State. DeChellis is a Penn State grad and was an assistant coach with the Nittany Lions. DeChellis was 105-93 in seven years with ETSU.

Final Five: Kansas’ Nick Collison, Texas’ T.J. Ford, Dwyane Wade of Marquette, Oklahoma’s Hollis Price and David West of Xavier were named finalists for the John R. Wooden Award which will be presented April 12 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Simply the Best: Kentucky’s Tubby Smith and Duke’s Gail Goestenkors have been chosen as the 2003 Naismith college basketball coaches of the year by the Atlanta Tipoff club. Also, former coach Lefty Driesell was given the club’s award for outstanding contribution to basketball.

Mondragon Slayed: Former Western New Mexico head coach Joe Mondragon will remain fired by the school. A committee at the school upheld his firing for a racial slur made against a black player on Jan. 25. Mondragon was accused by guard David Harris of using a racial epithet to criticize six black players.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Championship basketball will be on display at MSG tonight as Big East rivals St. John’s and Georgetown square off for the NIT
championship. The winner of the game can stake a claim to being the 66th best team in the country.

Folks, take care and keep it real.

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