Press Conference: Johnson & Holmes Q & A

CHAPEL HILL -- Following the announcement that UNC head basketball coach Matt Doherty was resigning, seniors Will Johnson and Jonathan Holmes shared their thoughts.

Will Johnson

What kind of relationship did you have with Coach Doherty?

He was my coach. He was demanding, and I worked hard for him. We had a typical coach/player relationship. This isn't a personal issue. This is about what's best for Carolina basketball. As far as personal issues, vendettas, that kind of thing, that isn't what this is about.

Where in Coach Doherty's personality is it to resign?

I'm not a psychologist. I, I--

Doesn't that seem odd, knowing what you know about him?

That he would resign? Yeah. Obviously, this is a situation where he and Mr. Baddour have met and discussed things. Coach Doherty loves Carolina basketball, I do know that. He felt it was the best for our program.

Other players have said that they felt there would have been transfers had Matt stayed. What do you think?

I can't comment on what they would do. Rashad may know things I don't know. He may be speaking for people that I'm not comfortable speaking for. I don't know. I can't predict it.

When you say that, do you mean you can't speak for others or you don't know?

I don't know. I really don't know.

We've talked about you growing up as a Carolina fan and having an image in your mind's eye of the program. Lot's of kids grow up in the state of North Carolina dreaming of playing at UNC, just like you did. Is your image of the program any different than before you came here?

No. This place stands for excellence athletically, academically. The team stands for playing hard, playing smart, playing together. There is always a sense of family here. Those things make Carolina unique in relation to other programs. None of that has changed for me.

If you bumped into Coach Doherty tomorrow, what would you say to him?

I'd say 'Hello' to him. If he had any questions, I'd answer them. Like I've said, this isn't a personal thing between me and Coach Doherty. This is about what's best for the program.

Was there any division within the team throughout the year?

No. It was remarkable how unified our team was this year.

Has the last week been hard, or have you been able to get away?

You can't get away. Even if you go home, you've got people asking about it. If you're here, you have people asking about it. Mentally, it just weighs on you if you aren't around anybody. It's hard to get away, and it's been difficult for everyone, coaching staff and players alike. I think there is a sense of relief that the process was over.

You, the players, had to know that people knew of the turmoil and the questions kept coming up. How tough was it to keep trying to put off discussing it until the end of the season?

It was hard. That speaks to how unique and mentally tough our guys are that they could do that and could just focus on the game. It's amazing what these guys did this year, to be a young group. It's the youngest team in the country, and they are constantly dealing with media scrutiny and rumors on top of living away from home for the first time, on top of facing competition they've never seen before, on top of just college life. These kids are tough, and that shines [through] and is very evident.

Did you think, personally, that there was a problem with the way Coach Doherty ran things?

I'm not going to get into my personal opinion. My views were discussed with Mr. Baddour. They had all the information they needed to make this decision. It's made, and that's all that needs to be said.

Are you comfortable with the decision?

I'm comfortable with the way Mr. Baddour and the chancellor handled the situation, along with Coach Doherty. They met together. We were a step in this process--the players' input--but Mr. Baddour and Coach Doherty initiated the conversations. We were part of an information-gathering process, and they got all they needed. This was a tough decision for them to make. Like they said earlier, it's not a losing record, it's not an NCAA violation. This is a unique situation, and for them to make that speaks to how thorough their investigation was and how they were willing to take due diligence of assessing our program.

Jonathan Holmes

You've been here during some very interesting times. If you were writing a book about your college career--not just basketball--what would the title be?

Wow, J.B. Whew! Man. That's a really tough question. Can I get back to you at Sutton's tomorrow on that one because I dont' know. That's tough.

OK, think about it and get back to me.

I will. I'll get back to you on that one.

What was your initial reaction to Coach Doherty's resignation?

It's a difficult day. It's difficult to sit here and listen to something like this and be a part of it because--if someone had told me four years ago that I was going to have to endure this, a coaching change and a resignation, you don't forsee that happening. It's tough. Families are involved and stuff like that. It's hard to sit here and watch. It's just tough. It's part of the maturation process and growing up.

What kind of relationship did you have with Coach Doherty?

I played three years for Coach Doherty, and he and I got along really well. I'd like to think that every day I laid it out on the floor and gave my heart and soul to this program for all four years I was here. Just like anybody else, I had questions and concerns that I wanted addressed and things like that. As far as specifics, that's a personal thing that we dealt with internally.

Rashad said that he felt like there would have been transfers if Coach Doherty had stayed. Was that your feeling as well?

I mean, I don't know what was said in each player's individual meetings, and I don't know what their feelings were about whether Coach was here or not. Mr. Baddour addressed that. It was a concern. There was a possibility that players may decide to transfer or whatever. I think that was something that had to be addressed because it was such a prominent issue. Any time you are dealing with these types of rumors, speculation, and turmoil, that's always a concern that comes to mind.

Can you share what would make these people feel that they would want to transfer?

I'm really not in a position to comment on other peoples' stuff.

Aside from you personal experiences, do you feel like this is what's best for UNC basketball?

I think that with all the things talked about tonight. The last few years, there has been a lot of speculation, a lot of turmoil, a lot of questions out there--not just from our standpoint but from the public. Obviously, these rumors are coming from somewhere. I think Mr. Baddour, Chancellor Moeser, and everybody who was in together on this in handling this situation felt like this was in the best interest of the Carolina program. I think that's what's going to happen. The program is going to move forward and continue to get back to the status where North Carolina should be.

Do you have any regrets about your decision to come to the University of North Carolina?

Never. This is a wonderful institution. I have had a lot of great experiences. I've learned a lot about myself. Any time you deal with adverstiy, it requires you to grow up and mature, maybe faster than you anticipated. I think that without these four years here, I would be a different person. By coming here and experiencing this, I'm a different person, and I'm thankful for all the opportunities and experiences I've had here.

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