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UConn’s Dan Hurley embraces chaos of rollercoaster season: ‘This is a drug, man’


Dan Hurley awoke on Christmas morning to search out an easel in his home.

“I mentioned to [my wife] Andrea that I wanted to get into painting,” mentioned the UConn head coach, who isn’t into golf practically as a lot as different faculty coaches. “I haven’t been able to get to it yet.”

While the considered Hurley making use of paint to canvas would possibly evoke a picture of calmness and serenity, the coach’s on-court demeanor — in addition to his staff’s efficiency this season — presents a much more chaotic image.

His Huskies, who began the season 14-0 and have been ranked as excessive as No. 2 within the AP Top 25, have since misplaced 5 of their final seven. Thought to be the Big East favourite coming into convention play, the Huskies are 5-5 in league video games and attempting to regain the rhythm that noticed them notch double-digit wins over Alabama and Iowa State en path to a Phil Knight Invitational title. 

Fittingly, alternative knocks for Connecticut to reassert itself and earn some measure of revenge on Wednesday night time when the Nineteenth-ranked Huskies host the staff that handed them their first loss — No. 13 Xavier — at Gampel Pavilion (6:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports app).

It’s been a rollercoaster trip for UConn in current weeks, however the unbeaten non-conference season nonetheless has them in place to earn a No. 5 seed in Mike DeCourcy’s newest NCAA Tournament bracket forecast.

While Hurley clearly prefers the highs to the lows, the eagerness that builds in him on the every day 40-minute drive from his residence in Glastonbury to Storrs by no means wavers. 

“This is a drug, man,” mentioned Hurley. “There’s nowhere else where you can get the adrenaline rush and the highs of doing this every day. Getting the win provides such a rush, but even the falling and being at the bottom when people crush you. That feeling of getting out of bed and needing to respond, and knowing you have the courage to live life like that.”

Hurley’s realization that teaching could be his pathway got here on Jan. 6, 1996 on the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. He was a senior at Seton Hall on the time, and that afternoon Pirates head coach George Blaney assigned Hurley to protect Georgetown star Allen Iverson.

The future Hall of Famer matched his career-high with 40 factors in a Hoyas victory. 

“I knew I would coach that day when Iverson went off on me,” Hurley mentioned with a chuckle. “When I was holding onto the thought of maybe playing in the NBA, that was the moment when I was like, ‘Yo, you’re probably not going to the draft.” 

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So, Dan did what anybody would have accomplished to start out his teaching profession in his footwear: he went to his dad, Bob, and joined the teaching employees at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, N.J. Bob Hurley Sr. was in the course of a 39-year run that featured 26 state championships, 4 nationwide titles and an eventual induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“His intensity level, his passion and love for the game is what made me who I am both on the court and now as a coach,” Hurley mentioned. “There’s no better combination of coach and father to have than what I’ve been blessed with.” 

Dan shares that bond together with his older brother Bobby, 18 months his senior, who received two nationwide championships at Duke as an All-American, Final Four Most Outstanding Player and NCAA all-time assists chief earlier than getting drafted seventh general by the Sacramento Kings in 1993. They each performed for his or her dad at St. Anthony. 

Bobby is now in his eighth season as head coach at Arizona State, a essential marketing campaign as he tries to get the Sun Devils to their first NCAA Tournament in 4 years.

“You’re each other’s Tony Robbins during the grind of the season,” Dan mentioned of his brother. “We support the hell out of each other. Everything is your responsibility, and it’s a nonstop, five-month war of a season. We try to build each other up throughout and talk things out.” 

Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State Sun Devils are 15-5 and tied for third place within the Pac-12. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

For the youthful Hurley, these conversations matter. He is true to himself and admits his pathway has featured ups and downs. Through the low factors, he takes delight in how he’s taken on these moments and moved previous them.

“I am tough on myself because my experience in basketball hasn’t just been a joyride,” Hurley says. “My playing career wasn’t what I thought it would be. I went to Rutgers for four years under Kevin Bannon, and we got fired in 2001. You know, I didn’t have some basketball experience at a Duke or a Kentucky.”

Losing his job at Rutgers despatched him from Piscataway to Newark and a nine-year stint in the highschool ranks at St. Benedict’s earlier than ultimately reentering the school stage at Wagner in Staten Island. During his prolonged run at St. Benedict’s, although, Hurley adopted in his mother’s footsteps as a trainer and instructed historical past lessons on the college. The energy of household is what saved him at the highschool stage for near a decade.

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“I stayed in high school coaching longer than I needed to for Danny Jr. and Andrew,” Hurley mentioned when describing how he’s as a father to his boys. “I wanted to be a parent that gave them love and time, to set an example for them. I did the little league games, the Pop Warner, the CYO matchups. That all meant something to me. I don’t have a lot of friends, to be honest. Andrea and my boys are who I have, and they’re my world.”

Andrew is at the moment a junior on the Huskies, whereas Danny is a Seton Hall graduate working in public coverage.

“To go through basketball with him,” Hurley mentioned of his son Andrew, “it’s really powerful and makes me emotional. There’s been times where I think about the journey in this sport, and the fact I can share in that with my boy now, you just hug your son and cry tears of holy s— in those moments.” 

Hurley is now in his fifth season at UConn, and he understands the expectations of the job. 

After he led Rhode Island to back-to-back seasons with an NCAA Tournament win (2017 and 2018), Hurley’s led Connecticut to 2 straight journeys to the large dance. The subsequent step is successful significant video games in March.

“There’s a ton of pressure here,” Hurley mentioned of this system that Jim Calhoun constructed right into a four-time nationwide champion. “You take this job knowing there’s way more pressure here than there is at so many other places. It’s here and Villanova in the Big East. Those are the two places where expectations are through the roof. It’s hard to be elite. That’s what I came here to be.”

Speaking of Villanova, as Hurley has hung out during the last 12 months evaluating how his program can obtain success, he has relied on the counsel of former Villanova coach and Hall of Famer Jay Wright. 

“Jay told me you have to stare so hard at your culture every day and look at every single crack of it,” Hurley mentioned. “Whether it’s a manager, a player or a video guy, you need to be attentive to detail and have everyone bought in to winning every single day. There are storms in the season. You’re going to lose. The Big East is brutal, man. But that said, you better protect your culture every single day.”

The Big East is actually brutal, fielding 4 groups — No. 13 Xavier, No. 16 Marquette, No. 23 Providence and Hurley’s No. 19 Huskies — within the AP Top 25, the second-most ranked groups from any league.

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Can Hurley get UConn again on monitor and enjoying its finest basketball when it issues most? With Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan within the frontcourt, plus a high-level scorer (Jordan Hawkins) and a terrific chief (Andre Jackson) on the wing, the Huskies have to search out guard play for it to click on.

Here’s one factor you may count on: Hurley will not be backing down from the eagerness that he coaches with day in and day trip, which generally attracts criticism. He doesn’t thoughts the hate, although. He can take it.

“I’ve won at a lot of places, and when you do that, you become a villain,” Hurley mentioned. “Rarely does hatred develop for people who aren’t winning. It only seems to go to people at or near the top of their conference.

“The different a part of it’s who I flip into on recreation night time, with competitiveness and keenness. I’m not a cheater, and I’m not a liar. Kids come to UConn as a result of they wish to play for a coach who fights onerous for them and that coaches as onerous as they play all 12 months lengthy. There are instances on a trip residence from a recreation the place I do know I ought to have saved my composure extra, however by the identical token, that is me.” 

Dan Hurley throws a tantrum after being ejected

Dan Hurley throws a tantrum after being ejected

UConn head coach Dan Hurley is understood for a tempestuous nature on the sideline, which was on show in a recreation in opposition to Villanova final season.

Though Hurley listens to meditation podcasts on the drive to and from work, takes half in yoga periods periodically, and will attempt his hand at portray within the offseason, there’s no stopping the UConn coach from being who he’s, and he believes there’s no higher place for that than Storrs. 

“You need a coach like me at UConn,” Hurley mentioned. “Somebody that is a little edgy, that is overly passionate and tough. I can see this place being the last place I coach at, definitely. This job suits me. It fits.”

John Fanta is a nationwide faculty basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports. He covers the game in a wide range of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to offering commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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