The UNC volleyball team's match against Wake Forest earlier in the night drew 7,442 fans, most of whom came early to assure themselves a seat for the basketball activities.
The fans got to see the new face Doherty is putting on North Carolina basketball. Doherty didn't look like a player 16 years removed as he wore the new team warm-ups and shoes.
Doherty said he looked for former coach Dean Smith at the scorer's table. Smith used to sit there during the team's annual Blue-White games in Carmichael. With no Smith in sight, Doherty realized the team is actually his to lead.
"When I walked in and saw the crowd, it really hit home that I am now the head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina," Doherty said.
Doherty and his coaching staff took the court for a three-on-three game against a team of students that included former UNC junior varsity player Jau'Ron Hayes.
Doherty scored seven points, and the coaching staff held on for a 14-13 win.
Doherty scored the game's final two points and then called for his team to run the "Four Corners" offense.
But Doherty turned the ball over in the closing seconds. Hayes stole an errant Doherty pass, dribbled to the basket from the top of the key and went up for a game-tying dunk. But Hayes' attempt clanged off the rim.
"I almost cost us the game," Doherty said. "Fortunately, he missed the dunk."
Doherty didn't shy away from throwing an occasional elbow, and he even complained to a referee during one play that Hayes was pushing off on offense.
UNC forward Kris Lang said he liked Doherty's intense style of play.
"He's like one of us, and we love that," Lang said. "He plays with a lot of intensity, as you saw out there. He was giving some cheap shots."
The real intrasquad scrimmage was much less physical. Brendan Haywood helped the White team beat the Blue
55-28. Brian Morrison excited the crowd with an off-the-backboard-pass to Orlando Melendez, who threw home a two-handed dunk. Haywood had eight dunks en route to 21 points.
"Brendan has probably been the hardest worker, and everyone's worked hard in the preseason conditioning," Doherty said.
In addition to Morrison, the crowd also got its first look at freshman point guard Adam Boone. Each time Boone made a noteworthy play, the crowd, much they way it cheers for UNC linebacker Brandon Spoon, would yell "Booone."
Such newfound intensity is just what Doherty will be looking for this season. And many fans are willing to oblige. Chris Harbinson, a student at Appalachian State, decided to spend part of his Fall Break in Chapel Hill just so he could see the new-look Tar Heels.
"I hope it's going to be a whole lot higher of an intensity on the court and in the stands," Harbinson said. "I hope the players get hyped about the crowd getting hyped."
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