Hur­ley tak­ing his Huskies home

UConn coach brings pro­gram to Jersey for first time to face FSU

The Day - - SPORTS - By GAVIN KEEFE Day Sports Writer

Dan Hur­ley be­lieves it's im­por­tant to ap­pre­ci­ate life's jour­ney.

Some­time be­fore Satur­day's game against No. 11 Florida State at the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter in Ne­wark, the UConn coach and New Jersey na­tive will re­flect on his long climb.

"It's the place that means ev­ery­thing to me, so I'm go­ing to take the time to ap­pre­ci­ate the jour­ney," Hur­ley said. "Prob­a­bly dur­ing the an­them, I'll look around and be like, 'Wow, I'm coach­ing UConn.' Maybe 12 years ago I was coach­ing against a school in front of 200 peo­ple. "So, wow, pretty cool." It's ex­pected to be an emo­tional home­com­ing for Hur­ley, who was born and raised in Jersey City, played bas­ket­ball for his fa­ther at St. An­thony's High School, at­tended Seton Hall, and spent nine years coach­ing and teach­ing at St. Bene­dict's Prepara­tory School, less than a mile from Satur­day's Never For­get Trib­ute Clas­sic event.

A large con­tin­gent of Hur­ley's fam­ily and friends will be on hand.

"I don't get a chance to get back to Jersey City a whole lot, un­less they've got some 6-11 kids," Hur­ley said. "There's not a whole lot of time to get to Jersey City and see fam­ily and friends. We're stay­ing in a ho­tel in Jersey City. We're play­ing a cou­ple

“I learned so many things there. I learned how to be a head coach. I learned how to run a huddle. I had no idea when I got there . ... I learned ev­ery­thing about coach­ing, prac­tice plan­ning, re­la­tion­ships.” DAN HUR­LEY, ON HIS FIRST HEAD COACH­ING JOB AT ST. BENE­DICT'S (N.J.)

blocks down from where I coached high school ball. Jersey City and Ne­wark are prob­a­bly the two places that mean the most to me."

Hur­ley's roots are planted firmly in New Jersey. His par­ents, Bob Sr. and Chris, live there in a house with a view of the Statue of Lib­erty.

He re­mains in close con­tact with Rev. Ed­win Leahy, the head­mas­ter at St. Bene­dict's. He talks fondly about his ex­pe­ri­ence there as a his­tory teacher and bas­ket­ball coach and the im­pact the job had on his life and ca­reer.

"I learned so many things there," Hur­ley said. "I learned how to be a head coach. I learned how to run a huddle. I had no idea when I got there. How to be a leader. How to run a team. I learned ev­ery­thing about coach­ing, prac­tice plan­ning, re­la­tion­ships.

"The head­mas­ter of the school there is one of the great ed­u­ca­tors in New Jersey. He's like an in­sti­tu­tion — Fa­ther Ed Leahy. The school, just be­ing in a com­mu­nity like that, it's such a great school. Re­ally, Fa­ther Ed was an in­cred­i­ble men­tor for me. He taught that my job is not only to win a lot of games but my job is to help raise kids. So that's al­ways stuck with me."

In the class­room, Hur­ley taught World His­tory II, cover­ing from the Fall of the Ro­man Em­pire to the French Rev­o­lu­tion. Let's just say he had a bet­ter han­dle on teach­ing man-to-man de­fense than about Napoleon. He would check out Wikipedia be­fore walk­ing into class.

"Ob­vi­ously, I had to learn it on the fly be­cause I was a gen­eral stud­ies ma­jor at Seton Hall," Hur­ley said. "I just love be­ing around young peo­ple. I get en­er­gized by be­ing around kids. ... Plus, you un­der­stand the ver­nac­u­lar what these kids are talk­ing about nowa­days. Other­wise, I'd be com­pletely lost.

"... Those ex­pe­ri­ences, I'll never for­get it. The close­ness you de­velop, the re­la­tion­ships. Then the climb. Makes me ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery part of what this ex­pe­ri­ence is like and kind of where I came from."

Not all his St. Bene­dict me­mories are fond ones.

The Never For­get Trib­ute Clas­sic, which sup­ports the ed­u­ca­tional as­pi­ra­tions of the chil­dren of the vic­tims of the Sept. 11, 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, presents an op­por­tu­nity for Hur­ley to talk about his ex­pe­ri­ence that sad day.

"I re­mem­ber I was teach­ing World His­tory II and looked out the win­dow and you could see the smoke," Hur­ley said. "Be­ing in Ne­wark, you look out and you can see Man­hat­tan there.

"Get­ting within prob­a­bly about 10 min­utes of see­ing the smoke, just be­ing called into the au­di­to­rium and then just the chaos of what was hap­pen­ing on the way into the assem­bly. And then ev­ery­one got dis­missed."

An emo­tional Hur­ley paused be­fore con­tin­u­ing.

Hur­ley said he brought sev­eral in­ter­na­tional stu­dents home with him that day.

Paul Keat­ing, a fire­man and the brother of Hur­ley's friend Jeff, died af­ter head­ing to the World Trade Cen­ter af­ter the first plane crash.

"We all have peo­ple re­lated to us that per­ished that day," Hur­ley said. "Ev­ery­one was af­fected by it and still af­fected by it. Jeff Keat­ing was like a friend of me and my brother's. His brother was a fire­man . ... He ended up dy­ing that day as a hero. There's so many of those types of sto­ries, you just get a chill. You'll get a chill as you get to Satur­day.

"The emo­tion is good, I think. Laugh­ing, be­ing sad, happy. Run­ning the emo­tional gamut, I think is a good thing. I'm no stoic." [email protected]­day.com

JES­SICA HILL/AP PHOTO

UConn coach Dan Hur­ley locks arms with his play­ers dur­ing the na­tional an­them prior to Sun­day’s game against Ari­zona at the XL Cen­ter in Hart­ford. Hur­ley, a New Jersey na­tive, will bring his Huskies to the Gar­den State for the first time to­day to face No. 11 Florida State at the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter in Ne­wark, N.J.

STEPHEN DUNN/AP PHOTO

UConn coach Dan Hur­ley yells from the side­line dur­ing the sec­ond half of a game against UMass Low­ell back on Nov. 27 in Storrs. Hur­ley re­turns to New Jersy to­day to lead the Huskies against Florida State.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.