Art Chansky recently wrote a column criticizing Dick Baddour for how the coaching search was handled in 2000. Every Tar Heel will probably agree with Mr. Chansky that hiring Matt Doherty was a mistake, but I am glad Doherty snagged Sean May right out from under Indiana’s nose and brought in a crew that along with Marvin Williams gave Roy Williams his first national title.
Matt Doherty recruited Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams, Melvin Scott and yes Rashad McCants who gave North Carolina fans some of the biggest headaches yet some of greatest clutch shots on their way to winning the 2005 national championship. Sean May was just listed as being one 75 best NCAA tournament performers ever.
Mr. Chansky points out all of the decisions that doomed Doherty from the start, but says Jeff Lebo would have been a better choice. While I am a Jeff Lebo fan and he brings a 6-1 record tomorrow as ECU’s head coach his argument for Lebo is shaded light blue. Mr. Chansky points out that Lebo was successful at Tennessee Tech and UT Chattanooga before making a bad choice to choose Auburn. The reason he says Coach Lebo failed at Auburn was because he refused to cheat like the other schools were doing. That is a pretty broad accusation that he fails to back up with any facts. I am sure Mr. Chansky was a Jeff Lebo fan when he was bombing threes in Chapel Hill and by every account Coach Lebo is a great person. The fact is things did not go well in Auburn and in coaching that happens sometimes.
To be successful at a school such as Auburn who worships football you have to have a little luck and the right guys on your team. Recruiting is not an exact science and when Lebo took over Auburn they were going on probation. He did have a 24-12 season in 2008-2009 but after a 15-17 record the following year with a record of 35-61 in conference play Auburn made a change. Auburn has rarely had good basketball, but coaches are hired and fired based on wins. At this stop in his coaching career he probably needed a change in setting as much as Auburn needed to go in a different direction. Jeff Lebo may very well be selected one day to lead North Carolina’s program after Roy Williams finally puts the clipboard down. Many will say Hubert Davis is being groomed for this one day, but things can change quickly in college basketball.
Art Chansky has been a person who I have enjoyed reading over the years. I just felt in his attacking of Matt Doherty who was part of Coach Smith’s first national title and recruited the core of the 2005 national championship while making excuses for Coach Lebo in his time at Auburn was not the type of journalism I have grown to respect from him. I doubt Mr. Chansky will give two thoughts to what this blogger thinks, but I hope he would because he has a plethora of great stories from a lifetime of Carolina sports to tell.