‘Act of service’: Hubert Davis’ coaching philosophy leads UNC to Elite Eight

Friday evening, Hubert Davis did not want to talk about January.

At No. 8 North Carolina’s postgame press conference following their win over No. 4 UCLA, a reporter asked about the Tar Heel’s recent turnaround, pointing to a loss 22 points against Wake Forest just over two months ago.

As soon as this loss was mentioned, Davis stepped in.

“That was a long time ago,” he said. “I’m sorry – no, I’m serious. We have won 15 of the last 18 games? I mean, that Wake Forest game was in January. Like I told you before, and I apologize, I’m a positive guy.

As the 51-year-old nears the end of his first full season on the sidelines of his alma mater, it seems certain: Hubert Davis is a positive guy.

Sometimes – as the Tar Heels’ fate faded into uncertainty, Quad 1 wins (and lack thereof) were obsessed with and a run to the NIT Semi-Finals seemed far more likely than a trip to New York. Orleans – this attitude may have seemed wrong.

But even through all the challenges Davis had a front row seat to, his spirit persisted – and ran through his team and his players.

“We knew we could do this course,” junior forward Armando Bacot said Friday. “Coach Davis and all the coaches, even when we struggled, always told us that. We never thought at one point that we were a bad team.”

On Saturday, as UNC held its press conference on the eve of an Elite Eight game with No. 15 seed St. Peter’s, Davis was more willing to discuss the past.

“I know everyone wants everything to go perfectly in November and December,” he said. It just takes time. I just felt like the shared experiences and the time we spent on and off the pitch allowed us to grow together, understand and accept each other… We’re settled now. We are in a friendly place.

Davis has repeatedly said that he views his coaching position as “missionary work”.

He showed this philosophy in his answers to questions about himself throughout the season. Leading one of the most successful programs in college basketball, Davis had plenty of opportunities to discuss his experience.

One such question was asked after the win over UCLA – specifically about his feelings about advancing to the Elite Eight in his first year as head coach.

Davis cried.

“This year where I feel happiness and joy and I’m proud is that they get those memories,” he said. “It’s not about me at all. Coaching is an act of service.

On Saturday, his remarks were similar:

“For me this year there has always been a desperation to succeed. I just want things to work out for them.

St. Peter head coach Shaheen Holloway, who received as much admiration as anyone in March for his work coaching the Peacocks in the first Elite 8 appearance by a No. 15 seed, said praises Davis.

“I love what he does for his guys,” Holloway said at a press conference on Saturday. “I like how they play hard for him, they respond to him.”

With two wins to go before national championship heights are an immediate consideration, there’s still a tough road ahead for this year’s North Carolina team to permanently enshrine themselves in college basketball tradition. .

But if this March was any indication, Davis has proven capable of guiding the program he played 30 years ago into the foreseeable future.

@zachycrain

@dthsports | [email protected]

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