Hubert Davis Leads Alma Mater UNC To Final Four In First Year As Head Coach| “It’s Not A Hope, It’s Not A Dream Anymore”

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The North Carolina Tar Heels and first-year head coach Hubert Davis had some trying times throughout the season. There were some unusual blowouts suffered and some downright awful showings by a program used to winning and winning at a high clip.

Carolina Way Under Hubert Davis Clicks 

Many believed Carolina was a tourney bubble team until late-season wins over Syracuse and Duke in Coach K’s final home game at Coach K Court at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Those triumphs erased any bubble talk about the blue bloods from Chapel Hill. But they would enter as an unusually low eighth seed, with the talent to go on a run.  

The Heels have done just that by winning the East Region, and along the way defeating defending national champion and No. 1 seed Baylor. Davis’ team hit peak performance with a dismantling of 2021 national semifinalist UCLA and strangling tourney darling Saint Peter’s in the regional final to punch their ticket to a record 21st Final Four. The program also has 130 wins in the NCAA Tournament, which is the most all-time.

Davis, who endeared himself to the Carolina community as one of the greatest shooters in school history in the early ’90s, had this to say about leading his alma mater to the brink of another national championship

“Well, it was really emotional towards the end of the game when we can finally settle in and realize that these guys are going to a Final Four. It was something that I desperately wanted for them. This is probably the most nervous I was before a game, because I really wanted them to go to the Final Four. And it’s something that we had talked about at the beginning of the season. And then in the huddle I told them that it’s not a hope, it’s not a dream anymore, it’s a reality.
“And for these guys to have this experience, to be able to go to the Final Four, brings so much joy to my heart.”

 

Davis Is Making History 

Davis, a former NBA player, mentioned that he knew a month prior to the announcement that he was taking over for Roy Williams after last season. He also said he just wanted to keep the UNC tradition going. There were many who questioned the readiness of Davis to deal with everything that comes with leading such a storied program.

UNC was suffering from a Final Four dry spell when Davis took over, and in his first season, he led them back there for the first time since 2017, when they eventually cut down the nets with a victory over Gonzaga.

With the Tar Heels’ ticket punched, Davis made some history. He becomes the sixth UNC coach to lead a team to the Final Four, joining Ben Carnevale, Frank McGuire, Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, and Roy Williams. He’s the first since Guthridge to lead the team to the Final Four in his first year as head coach. With this feat, UNC joins UCLA and Kansas as the only programs to have six different sideline stalkers lead them to the Final Four.

Carry On Tradition 

Davis also joins Dick Harp, who played for the Jayhawks in the 1940 Final Four and led them to the Final Four in 1957 as their head coach. Davis will take his Tar Heels into New Orleans with a chance to win the program’s seventh national title. They cut the nets down in the French Quarter twice in 1982 (MJ jump shot) and 1993 (Chris Webber timeout).

Black coaching excellence is on full display at the Final Four in New Orleans. Legacies are also on the line as Davis looks to win the first title of his budding career at the expense of Coach K, who has enjoyed so many iconic moments already and is looking to put a cherry on the top of an illustrious run. What say the basketball gods?