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8/07/2006 09:00:00 AM
Blog Q&A With ... Matt Doherty
New SMU coach Matt Doherty is taking a page from former rival Mike Krzyzewski's book.
Craig Jones/Getty Images
As the first in a series of blog Q&As with college hoops figures leading up to the season, I spoke with new SMU coach Matt Doherty, who may be the first blogging coach in the history of college basketball -- even if he's only writing the Mustang Hoops Blog twice per month. (If he has a predecessor, let us know in the comments.) We covered a variety of topics, from the "Cuban" genesis of his blog, to his rep in Dallas, to his plan for rebuilding the Mustangs' program.
Matt Doherty: When I got to SMU, [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban and his stockbroker, a guy named Charlie McKinney, an SMU grad who's involved with a youth basketball program called the Dallas Heroes, came over to my office and talked. It was cool; we sat around for at least an hour, and I picked [Cuban's] brain about a lot of things, like marketing basketball in Dallas. I just sat there with paper and pen, taking notes. One of the things he said was to have a blog, because it's a great way to interact with fans, and be honest and insightful -- and you don't have to talk only about basketball. Mark told me that, from his blog, he gets lots of great ideas from fans about how to better run or market his team, so I decided to start one of my own.
SI: I see you've blogged about everything from SMU, to the Mavs, to misplacing rental cars on the summer recruiting circuit. How has it been going so far?
MD: Like Mark said, it's fun, and it gets you to tell your story the way you want to tell it, because not every quote gets put in the paper. There's a lot of value in that, but I realize you have to do it consistently. Coach Dean Smith had a saying: "Start how you finish." If you're going to commit to something, do it. In July I did it two times, and might continue twice a month, because it does take a good hour of concentration to do it. I enjoy writing; I have a bit of a sarcastic style sometimes.
SI: What has the feedback been like?
MD: I'm getting notes from fans all over the country. A lot of Carolina people, actually. I don't know if it got linked on a Carolina website or what....
SI: Are they harassing you?
MD: You know, they're actually wishing me well. There have been notes saying, "Sorry about what happened in Chapel Hill," or saying thanks for helping build the team that won the championship [in 2005]. Some people who I haven't communicated with in a while tracked me down through the blog. Old friends. It's cool, and I'm definitely going to continue it during the season, but I might bring in a guest or one of my assistants to help me keep it up.
SI: There was a list of the "50 Most Powerful People in [Dallas] Sports" that ran this summer in the Dallas Observer, and you were No. 23 -- one ahead of Dirk Nowitzki. Too high? Too low? Or just right?
MD: Well, when they put T.O. at No. 1, I thought it lost all credibility, because it's hard to beat Mark Cuban or Jerry Jones. But to be frank, even though I don't put a lot of stock in those, to be mentioned was kind of neat. There's a new day in SMU basketball, and Dallas is recognizing that, and hopefully we can put a product on the floor that validates my ranking. But it's not like I went to bed the night [the story ran] thinking, "I'm the man," because there are certainly people like Cuban, Jones, Troy Aikman and Dirk who are far more prominent. I'm just a new guy on the block.
SI: Are you using any kind of model for rebuilding the program? MD: I'm using the Duke model. We're not a quick-fix kind of place; we're not going to load up on transfers or juco players. We want to build a foundation. When Mike Krzyzewski got to Duke, he had one or two recruits his first year. The second year he brought in Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie and Dave Henderson, and he played them all early, and they got their butts kicked. The next season Tommy Amaker came in; they still lost, but not as bad. And in the fourth year, everything clicked -- they beat us [North Carolina, where Doherty played] when we were ranked No. 1, and went on to the NCAA tournament. The next year, Duke was in the Elite Eight, and the next, the Final Four. That's the model we're using.
SI: Duke and SMU ... interesting.
MD: It's eerie how similar SMU and Duke are -- and this is coming from a Carolina guy. Moody Coliseum reminds me a lot of Cameron Indoor, and we're really similar in terms of academic profile and alumni base. I tell recruits, we're the Duke of Dallas.
Similar academic profile and alumni base? He's dreaming. I understand he needs to pay the lip service to alumni who like to think that, but the only school in the country you can equate to Duke in terms of athletics and academics is Stanford, and maybe UVA, Cal, and Notre Dame.
I really don't see this as a long term gig for Doherty. He'll make them better and create a foundation, but once he starts winning, he'll get picked off by someone else.
The Duke of Dallas??!! No wonder people in Chapel Hill hate this guy. The only difference between the SMU team and Duke in its first few seasons with K, is the fact that Coach K is a good coach, and Doherty is an idiot.
SMU is one of the schools that almost always gets spoken as an acronym. BYU, UCLA, UAB are some others. I can't remember ever hearing "their next game is home against Southern Methodist". Has it always been like that? If he takes this program to the tournament year after year it will be a major achievement. You might as well go for the Duke of Texas angle. (although Rice is a better example I thought).
as an SMU alumni I can say Mike is playing it perfectly. SMU and Duke comparison is cleaver marketing. He's done more already without one game than many SMU coaches before him. He's reached into the community more and the fact this article is on SI web site proves it.
He absolutely should have compared Duke to SMU, because New Jersy University - Durham Campus (aka Duke) isn't nearly as good of a school as it is made out to be. In fact, SMU is a reputable school in the South, and while not a Tier 1 school - NJU-Durham isn't either.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Duke have a pretty good run of consistent excellence in the '60s under Vic Bubas, and then again in the '70s under Bill Foster? I think it's slightly presumptuous to compare SMU--which has been in the tourney 10 times in the past 60 years--with pre-Krzyzewski Duke.
Will Brown, the coach of the University at Albany, has been blogging for longer (you can check him out at CoachWillBrown.com). College basketball fans will remember Coach Brown as the coach of the Great Danes, the #16 seed in last year's tournament that almost beat Connecticut in the first round. Coach Brown is a rising star in the coaching community, and his website and blog offer insight into his thoughts and coaching ideals.
What Doherty needs to do is to committ to one school and really build a program. I thought he stayed out of coaching too long after leaving UNC. He would benefit from going into a nice program where can build a program and work on his coaching skills.
Actually, SMU is an exceptional academic school that has an excellent reputation, albeit not quite Duke's in some folks' eyes. The new athletic director, Steve Orsini, put Central Florida on the map before he got to SMU, and he already has made major moves (fund-raising, facilities upgrades, etc.) His hiring of Doherty was a stroke of genius. SMU will take its lumps -- probably a lot of them -- in 2006-07, but he already is making his presence felt on the recruiting trail. I expect much of the roster will be overhauled by next year, and SMU will be a program that will really take off.
(As a Maryland grad, it hurts to say that about a Carolina grad. But he's an absolute stud coach and recruiter.)
Only Stanford, UVA, Cal, and Notre Dame are Duke's academic and athletic equilivants? I guess Rice, UCLA, Michigan, UNC, Wisconsin, etc. are chopped liver. These are all schools with athletic success and in the same range academically as Duke.
Dallasnews.com reported a secondary violation of NCAA rules already committed by Doherty. SMU reported it to teh NCAA and C-USA. He did not comment on the violation. Not a great start. There is talent in teh metroples, but none stay in the area and go to SMU or TCU. SMU is considered by US News as a Tier 2 (51-100)universities nationally.
The SMU/Duke comparison is a good one. Both have lovely campuses, well off alumni, smallish alumni bases, solid academics (SMU has much higher standards for its student athletes than does Duke, I'm sorry to have to point out), and older, funky basketball facilities.
I am a Duke alum and appreciate the commitment to excellence by Carolina coaches such as Dean Smith. Doherty has constuctively tried to learn from his experience at Carolina, and become a better leader. Even if he does not pile up wins, he is doing what he can to become a better coach. He did not allow loyalties to prejudice him in finding a successful model of building a team. He should be commended for his willingness to seek a successful model regardless of the source. I wish him well.
The "Duke of Dallas." It's interesting to me that a Carolina guy would use that analogy when he could have chosen the "Roy Williams at Kansas from 1989-1991" analogy. It sounds like pandering to the alumni/fan base, to me. Of course, I've always felt old Matt was a little too slick for his own good.
Good for Doherty. As a Carolina fan, I am ashamed of the way he was shown the door at Carolina...he took the fall for a poor decision made by impatient alumni who HAD to have the Carolina connection in the next coach. My biggest fear is Doherty winning his 1st Nat'l Title against Carolina as he is on his way becoming a sucessful coach. Seriously, he's had one bad year with players he didn't recruit. I wish him the best of luck, I just hope we UNC fans don't come to regret our decision after Roy retires as I truly believe Doherty was the future of UNC ball, but he was hired too early....should have been hired after Roy....oh well, such is life
"Seriously, he's had one bad year with players he didn't recruit."
I disagree. I was at carolina at the time and i read every DTH article about it. It's true that he had trouble with guys he didnt recruit (Morrison, Boone, Forte) but he ALSO had trouble with McCants and May. I remember specifically talk of how Doherty used personal attacks on May, saying he'd never be as good as his father. Plus you have to consider that the players visibly suffered under him. Jawad Williams, Melvin Scott and Jackie Manual were all there for the 8-20 season. These same guys were an integral part of the 2005 championship. That is more than just improving skills over time. Doherty made huge mistakes and his forcedd resignation was deserved. However, I agree that with more experience as a head coach he could have done a better job. Perhaps if he had made those mistakes elsewhere, he indeed could have turned out to be Roy's future successor. Oh well. He will have a fine career despite.
Why can't the 9:01 AM guy just admit he's a Duke Hater? Sorry you didn't get into Duke pal.
Seriously, Doherty is a very very smart guy (he worked on Wall Street and was Academic All-American) who will do just fine just as long as he knows how to control his temper. After learning his lessons at Carolina, I'm sure he has.
In reference to the comment that was in the message "No wonder people in Chapel Hill hate this guy. The only difference between the SMU team and Duke in its first few seasons with K, is the fact that Coach K is a good coach, and Doherty is an idiot. “Coach Kommandant is a great coach and Doherty is an idiot? Are you still in See Jane Run Books? Chapel Hill doesn't hate any of the Carolina Family, we may be unhappy about the way things may have gone and that is about all. We have come through the best and the worst. Doherty was just trying to give UNC what they wanted, a winning team. If you still have a live brain cell left you know that the team that won the 05 Championship was recruited by him, so without him there, there is no 05 Championship. Hope he does well and gets what he deserves, you can't find a better guy or one who is more True Blue. Don't forget he started with MJ when we won the championship with that team. He was a big reason for their success.
Rice,UCLA,Michigan UNC,Wisconsin;all good schools w/many top tier students,but from top to bottom,not close to Duke students as far as academic qualifications,read any of the last several years of US News rankings and statistics...Comment on SMU having higher student athlete qualifications-you got to be kidding,check the stats on athlete graduation rates Duke and Notre Dame regularly at top of the list...agree,though w/prior comments on SMU coeds......
Ya Doherty got totally screwed by Carolina. Besides the fact that you built the team that won the National Championship they should be sending you a National Championship Ring tellin you thanks for building it so they could dump you for Roy (pay his players after they leave) Williams. You'll do great and hopefully Mizzu will pick you up.
Doherty was not treated badly at Carolina. He had 3 players transfer in his first 2 years and after his 3rd year half the team was contemplating transferring, even most of the starters. He had serious relationship problems with his players and he was not mature enough as a coach to handle the scrutiny & stress that the coach at Carolina must endure. Hopefully he has learned from his past mistakes and will be successful in the future. He is no doubt a great recruiter.
Matt, I'm a huge carolina fan and I don't care what anyone says you were mistreated at Carolina and if Coach Williams hadn't been available you might still be there. It was obvious during Coach Williams first year that your last recruiting class was the problem with the team not the coach. Roy couldn't even get their best efforts until his second year.
I don't think that team came together until Sean May was fully healed and a focus of the offense, see '05 Ncaa stats for Mr. May for proof. I seem to recall that your last year at Carolina got off to a great start, until Sean May broke his foot and then it went south.
Your a good coach just keep doing what you do. Carolina should be ashamed.
1. Notre Dame: Left after one year. That's what "Bigtimers" do. Hang others out to dry! 2. Carolina: Threw chairs and verbally abused players. Tried to be a "Bigger Bigtimer". Do you think you're a Coach Knight or something? Trying to copy others....you were fired! 3. Left FAU after taking part of the "Season". On the show, the AD talked about the remolding the gym for you and FAU basketball. "Bigtimed him and that school". 4. SMU: TBD
Good luck with tesing the Basketball Gods....again
Hopefully Matt will have a great career at SMU. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out some unsound politics were at work during the UNC coaching days. I heard Coach Williams speak at a clinic after he won the championship. He gave him credit for building the team that he won the championship with two years ago.
Without winning a couple of championships, it would be tough to survive a 8 - 20 season at North Carolina. I wish him the best.
Matt has been a winner everywhere he has gone and SMU will not be different. Texas has great talent, but a hard time keeping the talent in State. If SMU will make the commitment to the program, Matt has the skills to build it. As to the Duke analogy coming from a Carolina guy, I guess he is marketing. We'll be watching the progress from Fort Worth. Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred!
It is funny to see all you people call this guy an idiot and insult his coaching ability. The fact is Doherty did not get along with his playets at UNC because he was to tough and his practices were grueliing. Not to say that team was not talented, but Doherty will be successful at SMU, if not in two years soon after.
doh must still be pissed off at Carolina for canning him.
So, let me get this straight - he aspires to build a program that runs a one-dimensional offense, teaches its atheletes to be vain and arrogant, teaches its' assistants to swear at and taunt other players and coaches, and consistently chokes come tourney time?
The post at 11:16 AM, August 09, 2006 is absurd. This person claims to have followed things so closely but fails to mention how Matt improved himself as a person and a basketball coach. It is easy to attack someone when you are hidden behind a keyboard. The bottom line is he made mistakes and has atoned for them. UNC would not have the national championship of 05 without the groundwork Matt did regardless of mistakes he may have made.
I don't think that anyone is denying that Doherty was an essential factor in the 2005 championship. of course he was, because he did recruit those players. however, i think it's important to note 2 thing:
1) he was recruiting for Carolina, a school players grow up dreaming to play for. Felton and McCants both grew up Carolina fans and May didn't want to go to Indiana because he was trying to separate himself from his dad's legacy.
2) how a coach is as a recruiter and how he is as a coach are two very different things. Doherty is a charming, likeable guy. He just didnt know how to appropriately push his players in the gym. He used personal attacks to try to motivate them and it didnt work. Also, it's a lot easier to control your temper when you are sweet talking someone into playing for you than it is when emotions are running high and you're, for example, coaching a close game against Duke at home.
No one is saying Doherty hasn't matured and learned from his experience at Carolina, I think the point is just that he made mistakes when he was there and that was why he left, not because of "political" reasons. However, even if that was the case, is it really so unbelievable? Coaches get fired all the time for poor records. 8-20 at a school like Carolina is unacceptable. It absolutely tarnished the program and I was not surprised he was forced to resign.
As a freshman during the 1993 NCAA Championship run at UNC, a grad student during Doherty's last year and Roy's first year back, and as a doctoral student during the Championship run in 2005, the rebuilding that has taken place last year, and the likely championship run this year as well, each and every day I realize more and more just how Doherty took the fall for his egotistical and difficult to coach players who were there til they saw the money or graduated. As one blogger said, it took til Roy convinced them to put forth the effort before their true talent as a team was revealed and the fruits of Doherty's last recruiting class was revealed. It was poetic justice that the players and parents that got Doherty run off had to suffer one of the most embarrassing losses in Carolina history to open the 2004 05 season at Santa Clara, a game I might add Doherty announced for CSTV. Poetic Justice for a good coach that just because he didnt bow down to the Carolina elite and bow to the feet of his players that they embarrassed themselves right in front of him that night. Everything worked out in the end that season, another Tar Heel title, but God was looking out for Matt Doherty that night. To those players that showed Doherty the respect he deserved throughout his tenure at UNC and that night at Santa Clara by treating him as the professional he is, I applaud you for your character and the appreciation u showed for the coach that opened professional doors you may have never seen if not for his recruiting u to UNC. Hence, I think it is only a matter of time before MD establishes a powerful D1 program that he was on the way to reestablishing after the lack of recruiting the years before he took the reigns at UNC. Good luck Matt, die hard Carolina Fans appreciate what u did to reestablish UNC as a basketball power through your efforts during your short tenure at UNC. We ll especially enjoy it when you knock off Duke in the NCAAS in a couple years!
Isn't one Duke enough? I'm not sure there are enough arrogant, over privileged, vain, spoiled kids to populate another iteration of the University of New Jersey at Durham.
Duke is another example of how money begets money. If your family is rich enough to send you there, then you are rich enough to fit in with the old-money Duke social network which will give a lucrative job.
Duke is excellent school, but not on the same level across the board in all departments as Stanford in academics. Not even close. And SMU is a good school in certain departments, but probably not the overall academically on the level of Duke. I think the school that blows them all away when you compare the the size of the student body and the quality of academics in all areas would be Rice. How Rice manages to continue to play Division I sports with the admission standards they have and the size of their student body is amazing, but the fact that Wayne Graham annualy has the Rice baseball program in the top 5 in the country and going to the College World Series in unbelievable. I am not an alumni of Rice, Duke, SMU, or Stanford, but I know some alumni from each school, and the best thing about Rice is their students and alumni are not a bunch of conceded, blow-hard braggarts.
Doherty stepped into the heat at UNC a little early. His temperment and maturity did not match the demands of the job. However the way Carolina treated one of the family was inexcusable. They did the same thing to football coach Bunting. I wish Matt all the luck at SMU but really why would any school want to be the "Duke" of anywhere. Duke and Coach K showed their real lack of class this year. It easy to have class when everything is going well but to show it during tough times is the real test. And coach K has been weighed, measured and found wanting.
I played for Doherty when he was an assistant at Davidson and wasn't surprised in the least by what happened to him at Carolina. None of us were. Our sentiments of him were echoed in the player uprising at UNC.
He was boorish, insensitive and that national championship aura was largely diminished by his egregious lack of people skills.
We were a horrible team then and being that bad certainly made for some tense moments between the players and the coaching staff. But Doherty crossed the line of professionalism many times by belittling players on and off the court.
Cool stories about playing with Jordan could only take him so far and we were happy to see him go.
For the sake of the SMU players, I hope he's had that come-to-Jesus that Bob McKillop had at Davidson in the early 90's. Doherty played for McKillop in high school and they were much of the same mold. But Bob changed, started coaching from the heart, and now he’s greatly respected even by those guys in his doghouse back then. He earned that respect.