NEW ORLEANS — First year North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis has his team on the precipice of a national championship, which would be the seventh in the history of the program.
While it certainly would not be the first time North Carolina has taken home the ultimate college basketball prize, Davis would become just the second coach to win a national championship in his first season as head coach. The first was Michigan coach Steve Fisher, who was promoted to interim head coach right before the tournament, guiding the Wolverines to the 1989 national championship.
It’s been a special season for North Carolina and Davis, going on an epic run to even make the NCAA tournament, and then defeating one-seed Baylor, four-seed UCLA, and two-seed Duke on their way to the national championship game.
Following the Tar Heels upset of Duke on Saturday — sending Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski into retirement — Davis discussed keeping God in mind throughout the game as well as the season.
“It’s a place of thankfulness, humbleness, humility, to be able to be in this position,” Davis said. “I’ve often said that my job, it’s like I’m on a mission field. Like, this is service. I’m trying to help these kids. And I’m just trying to give back everything that Coach [Dean] Smith and Coach [Bill] Guthridge gave to me.”
“Whether it’s on the court, in the classroom, in the community, that’s my job,” Davis continued. “If I’m only coaching basketball, then I’m not doing my job. And so I know that Jesus allowed me to be in this position and he’s put me in this position to be a light. And that’s what I want to do.”
It was not the first time that Davis had discussed his faith at the Final Four, telling reporters last Friday that his relationship with Jesus is the “foundation” of who he is.
“I mean, the foundation of who I am is my relationship with Jesus,” Davis said. “And so whether it’s coaching, whether it’s my marriage, whether it’s my three kids, decision-making, everything is filtered through my faith.”
“I can’t do anything without it,” Davis added. “It’s not me sharing it, it’s me being me. And so that’s how I roll every day. And that’s just who I am.”
“The foundation of who I am is my relationship with Jesus. And so whether it’s coaching, whether it’s my marriage, whether it’s my three kids, decision-making, everything is filtered through my faith.” (@UNC_Basketball Coach Hubert Davis) pic.twitter.com/fzKAAciGpS
— Michael O’Neal (@tmichaeloneal) April 1, 2022
Davis and North Carolina will have one more hurdle to leap over if they are to accomplish an incredible feat, and the opponent in front of them will be their most difficult test.
Kansas is led by the Big 12 Player of the Year in Ochai Agbaji, averaging 18.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Agbaji is coming off of a brilliant performance in the national semifinal game against Villanova, scoring 21 points on 6-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
“Defensively, I think the biggest thing is transition defense,” Davis said Sunday. “On film, they appear to be the fastest transition team that I’ve seen all year, whether it’s on made or missed baskets, they sprint to offense. And so it’s really important for us that our transition defense — we always have an end game. And our end game in transition defense is no layups or dunks, no pitch-ahead lace-up three’s, make them make two passes or more so the defense can get set. We’ll have to do that tomorrow night.”
Kansas and North Carolina tip off Monday at 9:20 p.m. ET.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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