Davis ready for his coaching debut with No. 19 North Carolina | Sports


Hubert Davis seems comfortable.

He will coach his first regular-season game on Tuesday against the 19th-ranked North Carolina. This is where he played under Dean Smith before enjoying a long career in the NBA and later returning to join the staff of another Tar Heels Hall of Fame coach at Roy Williams.

Stepping into Tuesday night’s game against Loyola Maryland, Davis, 51, points to his deep connection to the program as the reason he feels so comfortable.

“From that point of view of having the spotlight on you, yeah, I haven’t been there as a head coach,” Davis said Monday. “But I’ve been there before. So it’s no different for me. I’m going to walk there the same way – emotions and feelings will be the same – as I walked through that tunnel the other 2,000 times that I went through the tunnel.

The North Carolina transition is one of the most prominent coaching changes coming into college basketball opening night on Tuesday, from april retreat from a 903-game winner with three national championships at Williams to the importance of the tradition-rich program turning to his first-ever black head coach at Davis.

The night also marks notable debuts in several other high-profile programs, including the former Hoosiers star and NBA coach. Mike Woodson takes over in Indiana (vs. Eastern Michigan), former Texas Tech coach Chris Beard tops No.5 in Texas (vs. Houston Baptist), Loyola Chicago’s Porter Moser takes over in Oklahoma (v Northwestern State) and assistant Gonzaga Tommy Lloyd replaces Sean Miller in Arizona (against northern Arizona).

It also kicks off Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell season for ninth-seeded Duke, who faces 10th-ranked Kentucky in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Krzyzewski will retire after the season and hand over to associate head coach and former Blue Devils player Jon Scheyer.

For the Tar Heels, the 1970s grand program nephew Walter Davis is a bridge to the Smith era. Yet he’s also linked to recent successes since joining Williams’ coaching staff in 2012 after working as an ESPN basketball analyst, including reaching the domestic championship game in 2016 and then returning for. win the title the following year.

“That says a lot about the program,” great man Armando Bacot said of Davis’ ties to UNC. “You see a lot of other programs going and getting guys from other schools, other leagues and stuff like that. But just being able to keep it in the family says a lot.”

Davis built on that tradition by hiring a squad filled with former UNC players, including bringing in former East Carolina and Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo while promoting a Final Four MVP to Sean May as an assistant alongside Brad Frederick, the rest of Williams.

Davis wants to keep certain traditions such as remaining one of the best rebounding teams in the country, while making adjustments such as improving floor spacing with the big men shooting on the outside.

That was clear in the way the Tar Heels overhauled their frontcourt by bringing in 6-foot-9 transfer Brady Manek from Oklahoma and 6-11 transfer Dawson Garcia from Marquette. In Friday’s exhibition victory over Elizabeth City State, both scored 4 of 9 3 points.

Davis also encouraged Bacot to shoot 3 after a working offseason to expand his lineup. The junior 6-10 made his only 3 in the show after trying one in his first two college seasons.

After the show, Garcia described Davis, whose varsity head coach experience is limited to the Tar Heels junior varsity team, as “super committed… like he’s almost competing with us.”

Davis seems to see it that way too.

“I’ve played basketball my whole life,” Davis said. “I’ve been there. So I know basketball. I know Caroline’s basketball. … I have had a lot of experiences, both on the pitch and on the bench, which I can draw on to help me make decisions during a game.


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