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My interview with Danny Hurley, long before he became famous


Coach Danny Hurley at Wagner


… From high school to Wagner to two NCAA titles


This was a game that I have completely forgotten, but I do remember some of the post-game interview. My coverage of sports was a hobby, not a career choice, but it was enjoyable.


This, however, was one of my last interviews, albeit no a one-on-one. Instead, it was a postgame one-on-two after the Wagner College-St. Francis University game during the 2010-11 season.


I cannot tell you who won that game, but the Hurley name was interesting — more because of brother Bobby than Danny. However, this was also interesting because Wagner, a Div. I program playing in the Northeast Conference, had hired a high school coach to lead its men’s basketball program.


Can this be problematic? Just ask Notre Dame who hired a very successful high school coach named Gerry Faust. Just Google his name to see the results.


What I remember


I have no idea who won the game that night, but Dan Hurley was an impressive coach in the post-game interview at the Maurice Stokes Center. I was not surprised to see him move up the ladder — though he did it with tremendous speed.

First, he had much more hair than he has now, but he was articulate and painted a very clear vision of what he wanted to do with Wagner basketball.


Not many questions focused on the game. Much more time was spent on the vision. I think that Wagner won the game, but I could be wrong.


Hurley had compiled an impressive record as a high school coach,


His background is interesting,


Prior to coaching at Wagner, Hurley built St. Benedict's Prep of Newark, NJ into one of the nation's top high school programs.

 

During his nine-year tenure at St. Benedict's (2001-2010), Hurley led the Grey Bees to a 223-21 record, coached four McDonald's All-Americans and developed four teams that were ranked in the top-five in the nation.


Hurley is a 1991 graduate of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, NJ where he played for his father Bob Hurley, a legendary coach who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. At St. Anthony, Hurley was a member of a National Championship team in 1989 and a member of a team ranked No. 2 in the nation in 1991.


Following a successful prep career, Hurley headed to Seton Hall where he graduated in 1996. While with the Pirates, he played under former Wagner head coach P.J. Carlesimo. For his career, Hurley scored 1,070 points while helping the Pirates to three NCAA Tournament appearances and one berth in the NIT.


Wagner athletics


Success, then Rhode Island and then UConn


In two seasons at Wagner, he achieved immediate success. Wagner had been struggling in basketball, but he won 13 games his first year and then made a tremendous improvement the second year, going 25-6, which impressed the athletic department at Rhode Island.


Again, he inherited a program that was struggling, but in six seasons, they made two NCAA Tournament appearances from the Atlantic-10. That improvement was enough to impress the powers-to-be at UConn, who hired him in 2018 to return then to greatness.


He has done so, with two national championships wins last year and this one giving the Huskies six national titles. Hopefully, he will refrain from accepting a huge offer to go elsewhere, like Kentucky, as has been rumored.


What I remember about Danny Hurley was that he was a gracious, articulate and personable young coach whom I knew could go places.


However, to go this far in that short a period of time is really impressive ... and few former high school coaches ever capture NCAA titles.



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