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Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Doherty's cool with UNC, and vice versa

By Eamonn Brennan

Apparently it's "Former ACC Person You Hadn't Heard From In A While" day. First we had Bobby Hurley and his equestrian liquidity issues. Now it's Matt Doherty, the former North Carolina coach whose abject failure at UNC from 2001 to 2003 gave way to Roy Williams' tenure, which has been anything but.

Doherty is the subject of a big reconciliation-type feature in the Charlotte News & Observer today. And hey, it seems like he's doing OK.
His tiptoe back into the Carolina basketball family, he said, stems from a long-overdue heart-to-heart last September with Roy Williams - an assistant coach when Doherty was a player in from 1980-84, a mentor when Doherty served as his assistant coach at Kansas from 1992-99, and the man who ultimately replaced him in Chapel Hill when Doherty was given the boot with three years left on his contract.

Williams said Doherty has always been a talented coach and Tar Heel in his eyes.

[...] "There needed to be a conversation ... why did this person do this? Why did they say that? What was the timing of this, or did this conversation take place?" Doherty said last week. "We all need to learn how to forgive, and I was struggling with that. I wanted to forgive, but I think in order to forgive, there had to be a conversation first, so I could let go of that."

If there's anyone who can get UNC types to stop hating Matt Doherty -- and Matt Doherty to stop hating UNC types -- it's Roy Williams. He's like a big cuddly wool suit-wearing grandpa. And in the UNC "family" (which is what North Carolina people insist on calling their former players and coaches), when grandpa speaks, the family listens.

That said, it would have sucked to be Matt Doherty. He was somewhat rudely pushed out the door with hardly any of his original salary, and then two years later his insanely talented players (Sean May, Rashard McCants, Raymond Felton et. al.) went on to beat Illinois' one-loss team in the national championship game. That Doherty has seemingly let this go is a major emotional accomplishment. I would still be bitter. Wouldn't you?