July 12, 2000

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame still remains in shock over Matt Doherty’s decision to step down as the head coach of the men’s basketball program.

While the fans are bitter, Doherty’s former players are not.

“We do understand,” forward Troy Murphy said. “When you make a decision, people are going to be upset. People and going to agree with you and people are going to disagree with you. The people that are close to coach Doherty and understand what went on with the decision and things that pulled him to North Carolina, we understand why he made the decision.”

If any of the players should be bitter, it should be Murphy. Doherty played a large role in Murphy’s decision to stay at Notre Dame rather than declaring for the NBA draft. Now the junior will have to grow accustom to a third coach in his third year of college basketball.

“It’s tough,” Murphy said about having yet another coach. “David [Graves], Harold [Swanagan] and I have been through some stuff in our three years here. Never thought we would play for three coaches. It’s hard adjusting but we’ve done it before and we’re going to have to do it again. We have to adjust and we have to adapt. It’s not good that we’ve been through it before but we’ve been through it before. We know what it’s like to not really have a coach and that’s the situation we are in right now and it makes us stronger.”

Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White finds himself with a tough assignment just a couple of months into his stint as athletic director. White will be the single person responsible for hiring the new coach.

The players are hoping that White will be able to move swiftly and bring in someone that brings as much love for the game as Doherty did.

“We definitely care about who our next coach is going to be,” guard Matt Carroll said. “Dr. White (Notre Dame athletic director) is going to keep us informed. We know we’re not going to be making the final decision, but he is going to be asking for our input and I think that’s good. We want a coach who is a players’ coach and can relate to us. We’re looking forward to getting a coach in here and getting started.”

Most of the players believe that Doherty’s decision to leave has only brought them closer.

“I think that from the beginning we were a close-knit group, and now this has brought us even closer,” Ryan Humphrey said. “We have dealt with adversity before this. We are all still pulling for each other. I also think that next year we have a point to prove and we are going to go out there and have fun.”

The players can only hope that White makes a decision quickly. The month of July is critical one in the world of basketball because it is a time to evaluate talent. Recruits are crucial to keeping Notre Dame’s talent level up.