April 16, 2002
I get sick and tired of hearing players moaning and groaning. Often, young athletes are more concerned about evaluating their coaches instead of working to become better players.
What am I referring to? The turmoil going on at North Carolina, as several players reportedly have spoken out about the program. It's amazing to see players come in and get playing time, yet feel they have to scrutinize the coaching staff.
The soap opera continues. In a recent article by Raleigh News and Observer writer Barry Svrluga, UNC players have said that things must change with the coaching staff.
|Coach Matt Doherty and the Tar Heels watched a 31-year streak of 20-win seasons end in '01-'02.|
Outgoing senior Jason Capel was quoted as saying, "There has to be change. I don't think there's a choice. There's no choice."
Jawad Williams and Jackie Manuel also said they were upset, according to the News and Observer -- this after Brian Morrison and Adam Boone announced they were transferring.
When players start to complain publicly, that's a strong indictment of a program and a coaching staff. It doesn't help head coach Matt Doherty and his staff to see these things aired out. But it's going to get even more interesting.
Doherty will be challenged to bring progress to North Carolina in 2002-03. Think about the incredible achievements enjoyed by this proud Tar Heel program. Prior to the 2001-02 campaign, North Carolina had 31 straight 20-win seasons, 27 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and 37 straight top-three finishes in the competitive ACC.
Then came last season's disaster: an 8-20 record. The program, so rich in basketball tradition, was in turmoil. It wasn't just the record -- it was having players who were counted on to log major minutes bailing out. You can talk about Morrison's inconsistency, but he does have talent. He's athletic and has shooting ability. Boone improved as the season progressed.
When you're accustomed to winning and then suffer through such a tough season, it wears on everybody. And it leads to discontent within the program.
Doherty bleeds Carolina Blue. But he was comfortable as the head coach at Notre Dame; Irish AD Kevin White badly wanted him to stay in South Bend when Doherty's name was thrown into the Carolina coaching mix two years ago. When Roy Williams turned down the Tar Heels to stay at Kansas, Doherty couldn't say no to his alma mater. Conversations with 1982 national championship teammate Michael Jordan helped persuade Doherty.
Doherty pours his heart and soul out. Anybody who knows him will tell you about his passion and love for North Carolina. His players need to understand that his yelling and screaming is all done to help them become better than they are -- he's simply trying to bring out the best in his team.
I learned years ago that if a coach didn't get after you, he didn't care. Coaches like Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Bob Huggins, John Chaney and Bob Knight are known as super motivators -- and they get after their players to help them reach their potential.
If Doherty's Tar Heels played the game with the same vitality and spirit he brings to his coaching, you would see a different situation in Chapel Hill.
Doherty's work ethic is unparalleled. He goes at it around the clock, thinking of ways to change this season's losing mentality.
If Doherty's players bought into his system and played the game with the same vitality and spirit Doherty brings to his coaching, you would see a different situation in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina's players should be proud to wear a uniform that represents one of the best programs in college basketball. So many great players have put on the Carolina Blue, and the current Tar Heels must return next season with renewed vigor to continue that legacy.
If they don't, it will spell big-time trouble for Doherty and his staff. North Carolina has great recruits coming aboard -- and Raymond Felton, Rashaad McCants and Sean May will have to be instant contributors. But it's about more than just scoring points, it's about developing a winning mentality.
It will be interesting to follow the happenings in Tar Heel land. The world of North Carolina basketball continues to turn, baby!