North Carolina’s Hubert Davis is one victory away from becoming the first person to win the Division I men’s basketball championship in his first full season as a coach.
In 1989, Steve Fisher was made the interim head coach at Michigan right before the NCAA tournament and went 6-0 on the way to winning a championship. Jim Calhoun was in his 27th season as a head coach when he won his first title, the same for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Roy Williams was in his 17th season as a head coach when he won his initial title with North Carolina in 2005. Mike Krzyzewski won the first of his five championships in his 11th season at Duke and 16th as a head coach.
Davis, 51, spent 12 years playing in the NBA and nine as an assistant to Williams before taking over for him last April. He guided the Tar Heels to victories over the defending national champion, Baylor; the darling of the tournament, St. Peter’s; and their most hated rival, Duke, in Krzyzewski’s final game.
Nine other first-year coaches have guided a team to the Final Four, most recently Bill Guthridge with North Carolina in 1998. Davis is the sixth Tar Heels coach to reach a Final Four.
“I’m just overwhelmed with thankfulness,” Davis said after the national semifinal. “I think about the experiences that I’ve been able to have. I had always dreamed about being part of the program. And to think that I got to play for them, to think that I got to come back and be an assistant coach, and now I’m a head coach of North Carolina and we’re in the national championship game.”
He added: “When you look back, everything significant in my life has happened because they’ve given me this opportunity and a chance to be a part of this program. My wife and I fell in love there. We got married there. After I played in the NBA, we moved back, raised our three kids there. Now I’m the head coach there. It’s just a pretty cool deal.”
Davis was asked whether Michael Jordan, who played at North Carolina in the 1980s, was expected to be in New Orleans on Monday. Jordan attended the 2017 Final Four in Glendale, Ariz., when the Tar Heels won.
“That would be great,” he said. “I don’t want him just to show up. I’d like him to play.”