Hur­ley heads home for game to ben­e­fit 9/11 vic­tims

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS -

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn bas­ket­ball coach Dan Hur­ley was teach­ing high school his­tory at St. Bene­dict’s in Ne­wark, New Jer­sey on Sept. 11, 2001, when he looked out the win­dow and saw smoke ris­ing from the World Trade Cen­ter across the Hud­son River in New York.

“I re­mem­ber prob­a­bly within 10 min­utes of see­ing the smoke, just be­ing called into the au­di­to­rium and just the chaos of what was hap­pen­ing on the way into the assem­bly,” he said. “Then ev­ery­one got this mes­sage.”

One of Hur­ley’s friends would lose his brother, a New York fire­fighter, in the ter­ror­ist at­tacks that day. Hur­ley had just started at the prep school as a teacher and the bas­ket­ball coach. He took sev­eral of St. Bene­dict’s in­ter­na­tional stu­dents into his home while the school was tem­po­rar­ily closed dur­ing the en­su­ing chaos.

Hur­ley re­turns to Ne­wark on Satur­day, his first visit back home since tak­ing the UConn job.

The Huskies (7-2) will play No. 11 Florida State (7-1) just blocks from St. Bene­dict’s at the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter in the Never For­get Trib­ute Clas­sic.

The event hon­ors those killed in the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks and raises money for the ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren who lost par­ents that day.

Hur­ley ex­pects the home­com­ing, his first as coach at Con­necti­cut, to be an emo­tional one and not just be­cause of its con­nec­tion to Sept. 11.

The coach, who grew up in nearby Jer­sey City, doesn’t get back of­ten, “un­less they’ve got some 6-foot-11 kids that we need,” he said.

He knows there will be a large con­tin­gent of fam­ily and friends in the stands.

He says he’ll take the time, per­haps dur­ing the na­tional an­them, to look around and re­mem­ber that it wasn’t that long ago he was coach­ing just blocks away, in a high school gym, in front of 200 fans.

“I’m go­ing to take the time to ap­pre­ci­ate the jour­ney,” he said. “Laugh­ing, be­ing sad, happy. Run­ning the emo­tions gamut is a good thing. I’m no stoic.”

The game Satur­day will be a home­com­ing for guard UConn Tarin Smith, a grad­u­ate trans­fer from Duquesne. Smith played high school bas­ket­ball for Hur­ley’s fa­ther, Hall of Famer Bob Hur­ley, at the now-closed St. An­thony High School in Jer­sey City.

The 23-year-old was in kinder­garten dur­ing the ter­ror­ist at­tacks. He said his par­ents were both work­ing in Man­hat­tan that day and he’s heard their sto­ries of try­ing to re­con­nect with each other and get back home to him.

But he has no mem­ory of 9/11 and doesn’t get choked up, like his coach, when talk­ing about it.

“I’d def­i­nitely call it more so his­tory for me,” he said.

For him, the day will be all about bas­ket­ball and show­ing his home­town what he can do.

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