‘It’s a great fit’: Former Tar Heel player, coach Matt Doherty reflects on program’s new leader

Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 12:03 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina Tar Heels didn’t look far to find their new head men’s basketball coach.

Rather, university officials took a glance down the bench and selected an alumnus and assistant coach to lead the school’s prestigious program.

Hubert Davis was named as the men’s basketball program’s first Black head coach on Monday.

Davis has big shoes to fill as the successor of legendary coach Roy Williams, who announced his retirement on April 1.

The new hire received rave reviews from past players, including one who played and was a head coach in Chapel Hill.

Matt Doherty, who played at UNC from 1980-84 and then coached the Tar Heels from 2000-2003, talked to WBTV’s Brandon Hamilton about the new head man at North Carolina.

Hubert Davis
Hubert Davis(University of North Carolina)

Doherty, who lives in Mooresville, was excited to see his alma mater hire a coach from within the Tar Heel family.

Davis played for the Tar Heels from 1988 to 92 before playing 12 seasons in the NBA.

He joined the Tar Heels coaching staff in 2012 and has been there ever since.

“I think, in this case, it’s the right coach. It is a great fit,” Doherty said from his home.

Doherty recalled his time leading the Tar Heels on the court and from the bench.

He said Davis is one of the nicest people you could meet. “He’s one of those guys, if my son was good enough to play at North Carolina, I want him to play for Hubert because you know he’s going to take care of your son and do the right thing,” Doherty said.

The hire comes four days after Williams’ retirement announcement. It consumed Monday afternoon conversation on Charlotte sports radio. “It felt like not a question if they were going to stay in the family but who the family member was going to be,” said Nick Wilson from Sports Radio WFNZ. “What benefited Hubert, even though he’s inexperienced from a head coaching standpoint, is that he already had a relationship with the kids there, which I think is huge.”

Putting the team back in championship form is always the goal with such a storied program. With lessons from his own coaching past, Doherty has this advice for the next leader in Chapel Hill. “Two things: Making sure you’re not isolated,” Doherty said. “Who can you talk to that you trust that understands you and understands the business of being the head coach at North Carolina, not many people understand that. Secondly, where can you go and create a safe atmosphere for assistant coaches, and other people in the athletic department, including your players to be able to tell you the truth?”

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