Dan Hurley’s ‘obsessed’ style a hint of how Bob Hurley Sr. would have coached in college

GLENDALE, Ariz. — You always wondered what Bob Hurley Sr. could do at the next level. You imagined the now-retired correctional officer would one day become an even bigger star coaching middle schoolers, doing what he did at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City on a much grander scale, this which involved getting the best out of his players.

Hurley was a dominant figure in talent-rich New Jersey for more than four decades, winning 26 state titles, four national championships and 13 New Jersey Tournament of Champions crowns in 45 seasons and producing more than 150 Division 1 players until the school closed its doors in 2017. The Naismith Hall of Famer, considered one of the great high school coaches of all time, never attempted college, passing up several opportunities to stay in Jersey City.

But lately you don’t need to use your imagination anymore. Just look at Connecticut. Watch his son Dan’s Huskies compete as the St. Anthony Brothers often did. Of course, UConn has plenty of talent, projected lottery picks Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle, high-profile college players Cam Spencer, Tristen Newton and Alex Karaban who will also make big money in the sport. The top seed, however, reminds you of St. Anthony with the ferocity with which it defends, the way it shares the ball and the force with which it plays.

It’s one thing to be more talented than the opposition. It’s another to outscore the other team, too, which UConn does, and St. Anthony did so often under the elder Hurley’s watch.

Bob Hurley Sr. won 26 state titles and four national championships when he was head coach at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. Getty Images

This run that Connecticut is in is unprecedented, 10 straight NCAA tournament wins by double digits, four wins in this tournament by an average of 27.8 points. It has already set a school record for wins with 35 and is two wins away from becoming the first team to repeat since Florida in 2006-07.

And, really, that would be an even more impressive achievement.

These Gators, led by Billy Donovan, Joakim Noah and Al Horford, returned their entire starting five and were ranked first in the preseason. This group added three new starters in Castle, Clingan and Spencer. Five of the Huskies’ top eight scorers left the game after last year’s dominant stretch. They weren’t even a top-two pick in the Big East, behind Marquette and Creighton, and were ranked sixth by the Associated Press before the season started. In hindsight, those projections significantly undersold the Huskies.

Dan Hurley looks to lead UConn to back-to-back national championships. Getty Images

“What he’s doing at the college level right now, the culture and everything about it, it’s just incredible,” Hurley Sr., 76, said after Connecticut crushed Illinois , number 3, in the Eight Eight, highlighted by a 30-0 run. to return to this weekend’s Final Four. “I thought last year what was accomplished was incredible, and then five of the top eight scorers left. It’s a different team, and they’re playing really well again. They’re really good, but in a different way.

As Dan rebuilt Connecticut where Jim Calhoun once owned it, it’s easy to forget the journey he took to get here. He spent nine years as a high school coach at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, a combined eight years rebuilding lower-level programs Wagner and Rhode Island before landing in Connecticut in 2018. He climbed the proverbial mountain . Now that he’s reached the top, Dan isn’t ready to give up that high perch.

Just look at how his program reacted after winning everything: by having an even better season. There was no respite, neither from him nor from his players. It’s always about the next game. Last year’s championship made him even more motivated.

Bob Hurley Sr. coached 45 seasons at St. Anthony’s and produced more than 150 Division 1 players until the school closed its doors in 2017. Denis Gostev
Bob Hurley Sr. P.A.

“It was important for me to show my fans and my players that they’re not going to have a guy who’s going to rest on his laurels after winning one, and that he’s just going to hit the stock market. New York) and go hang out with (President) Biden, and then he’ll take a year off and do the honeymoon,” Dan said. “I’m an obsessed coach, and I’m going to be more obsessive the next few days than I wasn’t in the ones before this, I promise you. And when this season is over, it’s going to get worse.

Dan believes that if his father had ever made the jump to the college ranks, he would have established himself as one of the greats at every level. This does not happen. Instead, Dan wears this role quite impressively, coming close to the rare repeat, establishing himself as one of the best in the college game.

If you want to know what a Bob Hurley Sr.-coached team might have looked like at this level, tune in to the Final Four on Saturday night.

New York Post

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