Matt Doherty, whose basketball credits include noteworthy stops at two of the most tradition-rich college basketball programs in the country in the University of North Carolina and the University of Kansas, is in his first year as the head basketball coach at Notre Dame.
Doherty has enjoyed an outstanding first season with the Irish as Notre Dame has defeated five ranked teams at the time of the game in 1999-2000. Doherty and his Irish got off to a quick start with a win at Ohio State in the first round of the Preseason National Invitation Tournament by a 59-57 score on Nov. 18. The Irish wound up finishing in fourth-place in the event as they spent the Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. The Buckeyes were ranked fourth in the country at the time of the game in the Associated Press poll and had advanced to the ’99 NCAA Final Four.
Doherty and his Irish have also posted a pair of wins over defending national champion Connecticut this year and the other ranked wins are over St. John’s and Seton Hall.
The five ranked wins are tied for second in the country this year and only Arizona — with six — has more ranked wins.
Doherty has already led the Irish to 17 wins this season — the most the program has enjoyed since posting an 18-15 mark in 1991-92. Notre Dame’s 8-8 finish in BIG EAST Conference regular-season play this year marks the first season in the Irish’s five-year membership in the league that the team has not posted a losing record.
Doherty and the team took on one of the toughest schedules in the country as 15 of the 30 games the Irish played were against teams that participated in the ’99 NCAA Championship.
A highly-regarded assistant basketball coach at Kansas the last seven years and a former standout player at North Carolina, Doherty was named the 16th head basketball coach for the Irish on March 30, 1999.
“Matt brought to Notre Dame a tremendous basketball background based on his involvement with Dean Smith as a player at North Carolina and with Roy Williams as an assistant at Kansas,” says Notre Dame director of athletics Mike Wadsworth.
“He’s extremely mature, he’s very knowledgeable as far as the game is concerned and he has a proven track record as a recruiter. He’s tremendously excited about the opportunity ahead of him here at Notre Dame. We talked to a long list of people involved in basketball, and we didn’t find anyone who didn’t think Matt Doherty possesses all the qualities you look for in a head basketball coach.”
As the veteran assistant at Kansas for Roy Williams — who as a Tar Heel assistant recruited him to play at North Carolina under legendary head coach Dean Smith — Doherty helped the Jayhawks to the NCAA tournament each of his seven seasons in Lawrence. During those seven years, Kansas played in the ’93 Final Four, advanced to the final eight in ’96, the sweet 16 in ’94, ’95 and ’97 — and to the second round each of the last two years.
Kansas won five Big Eight/Big 12 Conference titles during his stay and compiled an overall 202-42 (.828) record, including a 15-7 mark in NCAA tournament play.
Widely heralded as a top-notch recruiter, Doherty coordinated both the recruiting and scouting areas at Kansas and assisted in all day-to-day operations of the Jayhawk program. During his tenure at Kansas, he played a key role in signing nine McDonald’s high school All-Americans, including standouts Jacque Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, Ryan Robertson, Lester Earl, Eric Chenowith, Kenny Gregory, Jeff Boschee and Nick Collison (he’s a freshman at Kansas in 1999-2000). Both Vaughn and LaFrentz (twice) earned Big Eight or Big 12 Conference player-of-the-year honors — while LaFrentz and Pierce earned consensus All-America honors in 1998 and Vaughn won first-team honors in ’97.
Among current National Basketball Association players coached by Doherty are LaFrentz (Denver), Greg Ostertag (Utah), Pierce (Boston), Scot Pollard (Sacramento), Vaughn (Utah), Rex Walters (Miami) and Ryan Robertson (Sacramento).
Here’s a year-by-year look at what the Jayhawks accomplished in each of Doherty’s seven seasons on the staff:
- 1992-93 — Kansas finished 29-7, won the Preseason NIT, won its third straight Big Eight regular-season title, finished the season ranked fourth (USA Today) and ninth (Associated Press) and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans.
- 1993-94 — Kansas finished 27-8, finished ranked 13th (AP) and 12th (USA Today) and advanced to an NCAA Southeast semifinal.
- 1994-95 — Kansas finished 25-6, won the Big Eight Conference regular-season title, finished ranked fifth (AP) and 10th (USA Today), advancing to the NCAA Midwest semifinals.
- 1995-96 — Kansas finished 29-5, won the Big Eight Conference regular-season title, finished ranked fourth (AP) and fifth (USA Today), advancing to the NCAA West final.
- 1996-97 — Kansas finished 34-2, won its first 22 games, won the Big 12 Tournament and regular-season titles, finished ranked first (AP) and fifth (USA Today), advancing to the NCAA Southeast semifinals.
- 1997-98 — Kansas finished 35-4 (tying a Kansas record for team wins), won the Preseason NIT, won the Big 12 Tournament and regular-season titles, finished ranked second (AP) and eighth (USA Today), finished with a school-record 60-game homecourt win streak, advancing to the NCAA Midwest second round.
- 1998-99 — Kansas finished 23-10, won the Big 12 Tournament title for the third straight year, advancing to the NCAA Midwest second round.
Prior to his seven-year stop at Kansas, Doherty spent three seasons (1989-90 through 1991-92) as an assistant coach at Davidson under head coach Bob McKillop, who coached him in high school. The high school seniors he helped recruit in his final season at Davidson finished 25-5, ended up unbeaten in league play and participated in the NIT as college seniors in ’96.
Doherty’s playing career at North Carolina included a starting role as a sophomore on the Tar Heels’ national championship squad of 1982. As a senior in ’84, the 6-8 forward was part of a starting five that included Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith. That same year, he helped Carolina to a 14-0 Atlantic Coast Conference record (only the sixth team in the ACC to do that) while becoming only the second player in ACC history (North Carolina’s Walter Davis was the first) to accumulate 1,000 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists in a career.
Here are details of Doherty’s accomplishments as a three-year starter at North Carolina:
- Freshman Season (1980-81) — The Tar Heels finished 29-8, won the ACC Tournament, finished ranked sixth nationally (both polls) and advanced to the NCAA title game against Indiana. That team began a string of 13 straight North Carolina teams that advanced to the final 16 in the NCAA tournament. Doherty averaged 6.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and had 67 assists in 28 games as a reserve forward.
- Sophomore Season (1981-82) — The Tar Heels finished 32-2, won the ACC Tournament and regular-season titles, finished ranked first (both polls) and claimed the NCAA championship by defeating Georgetown (he had four points, three rebounds, one assist in that game). Doherty averaged 9.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, had 105 assists and led the team in free-throw percentage with a .772 mark (71 of 92). That team began the season ranked number one in the polls, and Doherty appeared (along with Dean Smith, Perkins, James Worthy and Jimmy Black) on the cover of the Sports Illustrated preseason college basketball issue. He hit three free throws in the final 28 seconds of North Carolina’s 47-45 triumph over Virginia in the ACC Tournament title game. He also tied for the team lead with 16 points in the Heels’ NCAA regional semifinal win over Alabama.
- Junior Season (1982-83) — The Tar Heels finished 28-8, won the ACC regular-season title, finished ranked eighth (both polls) and advanced to the NCAA East Regional final. Doherty averaged 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds, led the team in assists with 150 and was named the team’s outstanding defensive player. His career scoring high of 28 points came in the ’83 ACC Tournament opener versus Clemson.
- Senior Season (1983-84) — The Tar Heels finished 28-3, won the ACC regular-season title, finished ranked first (both polls) and advanced to the NCAA East Regional semifinals. Doherty averaged 9.8 points and 4.0 rebounds and again led the team in assists with 124. He was a first-team selection on the all-ACC Tournament team (after earning second-team honors each of the two previous seasons) after hitting 17 of 25 field goals. He joined Perkins and Cecil Exum as captains of the team. He received the University’s Jim Tatum Award for an athlete at North Carolina with outstanding achievement in his/her sport and constructive participation in the community.
He finished among the Tar Heel career leaders in scoring (1,165 points for 9.0 average), free-throw percentage (.761 on 309 of 406) and assists (third with 446 when he graduated, behind only Phil Ford and Black, and still ranked ninth). Doherty earned letters in four straight seasons, with the Tar Heels finishing a combined 117-21 (.847) during that period, 48-8 (.857) in ACC play.
A member of the ACC All-Academic team as a senior, he also played on the 1983 United States Select team that competed internationally.
Doherty was a sixth-round pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1984 NBA draft as the 119th overall selection.
A 1984 North Carolina graduate with a degree in business administration and Dean’s List honors, he’s a graduate of Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, N.Y. He first worked in New York City for more than three years as a bond salesman for Kidder Peabody & Co., Inc., then spent a year as an executive search consultant with Sockwell and Anderson in Charlotte, N.C. He served two seasons as a basketball analyst in 1987-88 and 1988-89, handling the color commentator assignment for the Davidson basketball radio network and also working games at North Carolina, St. Francis (N.Y.) College and Charlotte area high schools.
He has been involved with a variety of charitable causes, including the National Kidney Association, Special Olympics and the Salvation Army.
Doherty immediately became immersed in the Notre Dame community as he played in the famous Bookstore Basketball Tournament that takes place each spring. The tournament is the world’s largest five-on-five full-court tournament, drawing over 400 teams annually. Doherty was invited by a group of Notre Dame undergraduates to play on a team called “Lebo’s Legends,” named in honor of former North Carolina player Jeff Lebo.
Born Matthew Francis Doherty on Feb. 25, 1962, in East Meadow, N.Y., he and his wife, the former Kelly Propst of Concord, N.C., are parents of a son, Tucker, born June 17, 1997, and a daughter, Hattie Fitzgerald, born Sept. 13, 1999.
The Matt Doherty Coaching File
|Year ||School ||Position ||Head Coach ||Rec. ||Postseason|
|1989-90 ||Davidson ||Assistant ||Bob McKillop ||4-24 ||--|
|1990-91 ||Davidson ||Assistant ||Bob McKillop ||10-19 ||--|
|1991-92 ||Davidson ||Assistant ||Bob McKillop ||11-17 ||--|
|Davidson Totals (three seasons)||--||--||-- ||25-60 (.294)||--|
|1992-93 ||Kansas ||Assistant ||Roy Williams ||29-7 ||NCAA Final Four|
|1993-94 ||Kansas ||Assistant ||Roy Williams ||27-8 ||NCAA Regional Semifinals |
|1994-95 ||Kansas ||Assistant ||Roy Williams ||25-6 ||NCAA Regional Semifinals |
|1995-96 ||Kansas ||Assistant ||Roy Williams ||29-5 ||NCAA Regional Final |
|1996-97 ||Kansas ||Assistant ||Roy Williams ||34-2 ||NCAA Regional Semifinals |
|1997-98 ||Kansas ||Assistant ||Roy Williams ||35-4 ||NCAA Second Round|
|1998-99 ||Kansas ||Assistant ||Roy Williams ||23-10 ||NCAA Second Round|
|Kansas Totals (seven seasons)||--||--||-- ||202-42 (.828)||--|
|Career Totals (10 seasons) ||--||--||--||227-102 (.689)||--|
More About Matt
- In the September '98 issue of Basketball News, Doherty was rated as the college basketball assistant coach with the brightest future in a poll of head coaches, assistant coaches and members of the media. Each coach was asked to name three assistants he thought would be head coaches within the next few years. Doherty received 22 votes, followed by Michigan State's Tom Crean (now the head coach at Marquette) with 16 and Duke's Quin Snyder (now the head coach at Missouri) with 11. Wrote Joe Henricksen, "Doherty has paid his dues....and has the Carolina connection going for him, as well. It's only a matter of time before Doherty heads a program of his own."
- Wrote Dick Vitale in USA Today, "Hey, when you talk about the second lieutenants who are ready to make the jump to become head coaches, I hope athletic directors in search of new leaders take a deep look at Matt Doherty, a workaholic assistant at Kansas....There are many assistants waiting for the phone call from a gutsy AD, a la Bob Frederick at Kansas. He had the guts and fortitude to hire an unknown assistant by the name of Roy Williams, even though he had a stack of resumes from proven head coaches. But Frederick did his research, and today, as they say, the rest is history."
- Doherty has earned high marks for ingenuity in recruiting: -According to eventual Kansas signee T.J. Pugh, Doherty's correspondence included a single match with a note that said, "We think you and KU are a perfect match." Doherty also sent Pugh an air sickness bag inscribed, "We'll be sick if you don't pick Kansas." Said Pugh's mother, Jan: "I absolutely fell in love with Matt Doherty. He sent the funniest recruiting letters. I thought that was so ingenious." - Jayhawk standout Raef LaFrentz told USA Today, "Matt Doherty really has got a good sense of humor. He drew this flip-thru cartoon called Jayhawk Slammer, special for me. It's a player jumping over a bunch of people and jamming the ball. It was crazy."