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Despite Wins Over Duke, Maryland, Unhappiness With Doherty Appears To Be Growing

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina basketball team has doubled its victory total over last season and has beaten top-10 teams Duke and Maryland in its last two games.

There does, however, appear to be widespread unhappiness with the leadership of the UNC basketball program.

WRAL spoke with a cross-section of the Tar Heel basketball family on Friday. People spoke on the condition that their names not be used.

Doherty appears to be lacking support from several key constituencies: his players, their families and the all-important Educational Foundation, also known as the Ram's Club.

One long-time booster said flatly: "This has become a crisis," primarily because Tar Heel players and their parents aren't happy.

Following the 2002 season, when Carolina went 8-20, three players left the team. The fear in Chapel Hill is that if Doherty remains, more players may transfer.

One former player told WRAL that he would be "shocked" if every player returned for another season. Another suggested as many as three or four might transfer.

Much of the players' unhappiness, according to a former player, stems from Doherty's coaching style, in which -- as in basic training -- players are built up only after they are torn down.

Former players who remember Doherty's outbursts during practice say they weren't surprised by what they saw in Sunday's Carolina-Duke game when Doherty suddenly confronted Duke assistant coach Chris Collins.

"That was a snap," a former player said. "I've seen that before."

Thursday, a day before UNC's 84-72 victory over Maryland, Doherty was asked if he regretted that incident.

"I'm ready to move on from that," he said. "I'm here to talk about Maryland."

Privately, parents have begun to speak out. The father of a former player spoke of intimidation at Doherty's practices, including breaking things and verbal abuse.

Another said: "If I can't say anything good about a person, I won't say anything at all. I'm not saying anything about Matt Doherty."

A third parent refused to be drawn in with Doherty's critics.

"My son seems really happy at Carolina," he said. "I'm especially happy with the academics."

Asked about reports about widespread unhappiness, athletics director Dick Baddour said he can't comment on rumors. He said the real story should be how well the team played against Duke and Maryland in spite of what is being said.

Members of the Ram's Club say Doherty no longer has the support of the athletic department's most influential donors. Since basketball historically is the university's top athletics revenue producer, the administration has more than wins and losses to consider as it evaluates the coach.

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