After his first SMU practice, Brown told players he was going to "pray that we win a game." He seriously asked them to do the same.
"He was like, 'Ah, this is terrible.' ... It was our first time playing against one another," said junior forward Shawn Williams, chuckling at the memory. "I expected a little rust, but I think with him being around NBA guys, it was a little different."
Self, who attended Brown's SMU introduction along with Doherty, stays in touch with Brown and remembers a call he got last month after a difficult Jayhawks victory.
"He told me how good we're doing, and I said, 'Are you watching the same stuff I watched?' Which goes totally against how he used to be," Self said. "Because if he's talking about his own team, they're always awful."
Brown seems to like his team now - and the players waiting for next season.
Three transfers get to practice while having to sit out this year, including players from Villanova and Illinois State. A top-notch junior college player and two Chicago-area high school standouts have signed letters of intent for next season.
Brown admittedly isn't crazy about recruiting, and there have also been a lot of changes in the college game since he was at UCLA (1979-81) and Kansas (1983-88).
"It's become four different professions in the time I've been in it, it changes so much," said Jankovich, in his 30th season coaching. "I sometimes try to see it through his eyes, and I'm like, `You must think you're on Mars sometimes.' ... But he's very bright, and he's a fast learner, and he's very observant."
Many young players know little about Brown, the only coach to win NBA and NCAA titles. Some do connect him when reminded of Allen Iverson's famous rant about practice while playing for Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers.
When Brown was recently watching some high school games in Beaumont, Texas, some seventh- and eighth-graders sitting nearby were trying to figure out what SMU was.
"There's a big hill to climb," Brown said. "It's a little different when you're at North Carolina and UCLA and Kansas. You walk into a home where you see a kid, maybe they recognize your program based on the tradition and the excellence and stuff like that. ... That being said, I know in my heart we're going to be like those other programs. I really believe that."
Brown, in his 14th job and with a reputation for impressive turnarounds and often messy or quick departures, also knows the inevitable question: How long will he be at SMU?
Jankovich gets asked that and doesn't know the answer - and figures Brown probably doesn't, either.
"Other people bring it up about how long I'm going to stay, and it's based on my age and based on my track record," Brown said. "It's a question I should have to answer because I have moved, and I don't know if any Division I head coach is older than me."
There is. Jackson State's Tevester Anderson is 75.
As for how long he will keep coaching this time, Brown said he always wants to be doing something in basketball.
"Nobody has had a background like me. Not only the people I played for or worked for, it's the people who worked with or the people I coached," Brown said. "Why not share what they taught me?
"I don't look at mirrors or celebrate birthdays," he said. "Otherwise, I feel exactly like I did when I was coach's assistant at North Carolina."