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Doherty feels connection with current Tar Heels

Matt Doherty is waiting for his moment.

The former North Carolina coach is enjoying work as a college
basketball broadcaster and spending time with small business
ventures, but he acknowledges it's getting harder to ignore the
pull of the sidelines. Nearly two years after he went from one of
the nation's hottest young coaches to a castoff, Doherty wants to
coach again.

And, he says, he's ready to apply the lessons learned from three
tumultuous seasons at his alma mater.

"I'm motivated," Doherty told The Associated Press in a phone
interview Friday. "I've got the energy of a 42-year-old, but I've
got the experience of a guy that's been around the block a few
times.

"It's time. It's time for me to go back to work and do what I
have a passion to do."

Doherty boasts a resume that features four years of Division I
head coaching experience, a career marked by a rapid rise and even
faster fall.

After leading Notre Dame to the 2000 NIT final, he took over at
North Carolina, guiding the Tar Heels to a No. 1 ranking and
becoming the AP national coach of the year in 2001.

But his second team at North Carolina went 8-20, the school's
first losing record since Dean Smith's first season in 1962.

Then came an ugly public split between Doherty and the school in
April 2003, which included reports that players and parents
complained to athletic director Dick Baddour about Doherty's
intense practices and drastic mood swings.

Doherty -- who played for Smith and alongside Michael Jordan on
the 1982 NCAA championship team -- said he is not bitter, calling
his time as coach of the Tar Heels "a positive experience."

He knows he made mistakes, including making drastic changes to
the program from the start, and said the players should not have
been blamed for his departure.

"It's all about how you handle situations and whether you're
tough enough to bounce back," Doherty said. "And I'm tough enough
to bounce back."

Both sides sound as though they've buried the past. Doherty said
he has enjoyed watching successor Roy Williams lead his former
players to the nation's No. 2 ranking.

"I have a lot of pride in what they're achieving," Doherty
said.

"I prefer to look back on those times as, 'Wow, we did make a
difference,' " he said. "That team is successful ... I feel I had
a little to do with that, and it's satisfying."

Meanwhile, school spokesman Steve Kirschner said Baddour would
support Doherty in his pursuit of another coaching job, while
senior Jackie Manuel -- a freshman on Doherty's losing team -- said
he didn't hold anything against his former coach.

"There's no harsh feelings or anything," Manuel said. "I'm
pretty sure he feels the same."

Doherty has spent the past two seasons in broadcasting, which
has given him the chance to talk with coaches across the country
and observe them at practices.

He's tried to pick up pointers everywhere he goes, so much so
that Davidson coach Bob McKillop -- who coached Doherty in high
school and gave him his first break in the business as an assistant
in 1989 -- likened Doherty to a sponge.

"I think he's clearly determined to get back into coaching, and
I think he's going to have an opportunity down the road without a
doubt," McKillop said. "People will be making a mistake if they
don't do it. He's got a tremendous amount to offer."

Doherty, who talked with St. John's and James Madison about
openings last year, said that he is looking for the right fit.
Meanwhile, he stays busy by dabbling in commercial real estate in
Mooresville, N.C., a NASCAR-crazy town north of Charlotte where he
now lives.

He also started a marketing firm that does some NASCAR-related
business, indulging his growing interest in the motor sport.

But he's ready to drop everything to start coaching again.

"I've done some things well and, of the things maybe I didn't
do well, I've certainly learned from those experiences," he said.
"I want to put those things to use. I want to think I'm more ready
than most to take advantage of an opportunity."