STORRS, Connecticut — Dan Hurley leans ahead in a chair inside his workplace overlooking UConn’s males’s basketball observe courtroom and smiles.
“I am not the sufferer,” he mentioned with fun.
In latest weeks, the fifth-year UConn head coach was proven on digital camera calling one official a “f—ing clown” in a win over Villanova and was given a technical foul late in a good sport in opposition to Xavier.
None of it is a new improvement for Hurley, one of many extra fiery sideline personalities in faculty basketball. He has been ejected from video games, reprimanded by the Large East and called out by local media to stop getting technical fouls at inopportune occasions.
However there’s one other aspect of Hurley, one he is continuously battling. There is a dichotomy between the on-court Hurley and off-court Hurley, between the observe model of Hurley and the sport model of Hurley. The brand new Dan Hurley and the previous Dan Hurley.
The constant ref-targeted anger is what everybody sees. It is a trait that runs within the Hurley household, beginning along with his father, Bob, one of many best highschool coaches of all time at St. Anthony in New Jersey, and shifting to Dan and his brother, Bobby, a former top-10 NBA draft pick of Duke who has been the pinnacle coach at Arizona State since 2015.
“My father is without doubt one of the best coaches of his era at any degree,” Hurley mentioned. “I mannequin how I coach after my dad.”
Hurley does not disguise from his sideline habits, noting that he has introduced many of the undesirable consideration onto himself. However he additionally thinks his repute results in him receiving extra technicals from officers — and digital camera time — than different coaches with related habits.
“Clearly, I am the boy who cried wolf in relation to any kind of referee interactions due to my historical past and I am judged due to that historical past,” he mentioned. “In any conditions that go badly, I’ve created that for myself. “
Throughout the UConn program, there is no concern about Hurley’s in-game outbursts. The surface criticism does not trouble the gamers; in actual fact, they feed off their coach’s sideline power.
“That is what I would like from my coach,” guard Joey Calcaterra mentioned.
“I simply want that folks understood what we considered him,” Calcaterra continued. “We love his power, his depth, the emotion he reveals. He cares, and he desires one of the best for us, and he simply desires to win. Seeing him do this, we love him for it.”
Is Dan Hurley teaching or delivering a Shakespeare monologue? pic.twitter.com/JpefawEGZZ
— Tyler Aki (@TylerAki_) January 7, 2023
‘Sure kind of edge’
HURLEY ALSO BELIEVES the UConn males’s basketball head coach must have an edge as a job requirement. Regardless of the 4 nationwide championships in a 15-year run from 1999 to 2014, it isn’t precisely a historic blue-blood program. It did not have a observe facility till the Werth Household UConn Basketball Champions Middle opened earlier than the 2014-15 season. The campus is off the crushed path, 30 miles east of Hartford.
After which there are the expectations. The boys’s program has 4 titles up to now 25 years. However the girls’s group has 10 championships in the identical time-frame. The boys’s observe health club has a formidable wall full of all of the NBA draft lottery picks from this system. However while you take the brief stroll throughout the observe facility to the ladies’s aspect, you may see a whole wall of Olympic gold medalists — some with a number of appearances. Sure, a whole wall of Olympians.
“It is all about excessive confidence on sport night time. If I am yelling at my gamers on sport night time, I suck as a coach.”
In Hurley’s view, it takes an angle to teach at UConn — a few of which stems from this system’s best-ever coach being Jim Calhoun, identified for his nationwide titles, information convention rants and sideline eruptions.
“Sure types of coach or sure types of character aren’t going to make it right here,” Hurley mentioned. “UConn may solely be UConn once more in the event that they get an elite head-coaching efficiency with a sure kind of edge to them. …. Coach Calhoun instilled a toughness in his groups. That began with him on the sideline.”
Hurley definitely conveys the message throughout observe, yelling at his guards to “Go rating like a UConn guard!” throughout one drill. It is laborious to not assume again to the Kemba Walkers and Ben Gordons of the Huskies’ glory days.
With Hurley in place, the UConn model remains to be robust.
“That goes all the best way again to the Jim Calhoun days,” guard Jordan Hawkins mentioned. “Simply having these powerful guards that play laborious. They will rating, they will defend, they will make performs. That is the UConn manner.”
The UConn edge does not come as a shock to the gamers once they arrive on campus. Throughout the recruiting course of, Hurley makes it clear how intense their time at UConn shall be.
“Individuals love to look at my groups due to the eagerness,” he mentioned. “You do not play with that kind of ardour if you’re sitting on the bench such as you’re in a board assembly. You may both struggle or may coach with fright. And I am going with struggle.”
Hurley hardly ever yells at gamers throughout video games. Certain, a barrage of selection phrases will fly throughout observe, however it’s uncommon to see him lose it on a participant from the bench.
“It is all about excessive confidence on sport night time. If I am yelling at my gamers on sport night time, I suck as a coach,” he mentioned. “These gamers are in a tricky sufficient spot. … We turn into extra just like the cornerman in boxing who’s attempting to pump up their fighter.”
‘There was no pleasure, man’
ON A FRIDAY afternoon in early January, UConn is on a two-game shedding streak after defeats at Xavier and Windfall, back-to-back losses after a 14-0 begin that noticed the Huskies soar all the best way to No. 2 within the polls. Outwardly, there’s little or no frustration or nervousness from Hurley. On one desk in his workplace is the David Goggins guide “Cannot Harm Me: Grasp Your Thoughts and Defy the Odds.” The opposite guide he is at the moment studying? “The Mountain Is You: Remodeling Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery” by Brianna Wiest.
Earlier within the afternoon, Hurley coached a whole observe with out sneakers. It was initially supposed to convey a message: The Huskies had been again dwelling after a few video games on the highway. However he preferred the best way it felt, so he determined to not put on sneakers for the total three hours.
This wasn’t at all times Hurley, although. The even-keeled, mild-mannered, off-court Hurley has been a protracted work in progress. Hurley, who simply turned 50, did not at all times have the identical stability.
Wins and (particularly) losses consumed him.
“I used to be beneath my desk, man,” he recollects. “I used to be beneath my desk 90 minutes earlier than my Wagner video games. Like, individuals knocking on my door like, you gonna take a bathe and placed on a swimsuit?”
The considered losses terrified Hurley. And he can hint that feeling again to the household enterprise of teaching basketball.
“Each me and Bobby, we mirror my dad — like how private he took St. Anthony profitable and shedding and the way debilitated he could be — like nonfunctional — if he ever misplaced,” he mentioned. “So we take this unbelievable disgrace from shedding when our groups fail, and we’ve a tough time functioning. The day of a sport you are nearly so paralyzed with worry of shedding and failure.”
“It was all struggling with the momentary aid of profitable after which instantly again to struggling. I did not need to do it. I used to be getting near getting out if I used to be going to expertise it like that.”
Dan Hurley on teaching earlier in his profession
He chuckles considering again about these days at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey and Wagner, continuously considering he was going to get fired if he ever misplaced.
On the time, although, it wasn’t humorous.
“There was no pleasure, man,” he mentioned. “It was all struggling with the momentary aid of profitable after which instantly again to struggling. I did not need to do it. I used to be getting near getting out if I used to be going to expertise it like that.”
Hurley known as just a few of his mates in teaching for recommendation, together with then-Florida coach Billy Donovan. Donovan shared some concepts for Hurley and recommended a physician down in Florida, and Hurley started studying the guide “The Energy of Full Engagement.” He acquired into meditation and faith, selecting up visualization methods, and was in a position to higher take care of his off-court feelings.
UConn assistant Luke Murray, who was with Hurley at Wagner and Rhode Island earlier than becoming a member of his workers in Storrs after the 2020-21 season, has observed a dramatic change in Hurley since these early days in faculty teaching. He says Hurley’s steady consumption of books and podcasts has allowed him to deliver a special body of reference to teaching.
“He coaches with such depth and fervour and focus and want, however he can now mix that with the levity of a humorous second, a extra broad perspective and scope on life and the world — even in a extremely tense pregame setting,” Murray mentioned.
Added Hurley: “If you do not have some issues in place that can assist you handle that strain, that stress, that nervousness, you are in bother.”
The teaching occupation does not typically lend itself to midcareer self-development or self-improvement. As soon as a coach finds constant success teaching a method, it may be troublesome to vary. Hurley’s quest to raised himself from an emotional perspective is its personal story, however it’s occurring whereas he is additionally adapting to a brand new period of basketball. Title, picture and likeness, the switch portal — it isn’t fairly the identical sport because it was when Hurley made the transfer from highschool to varsity or when Hurley performed at Seton Corridor within the Nineteen Nineties.
When constructing a roster, Hurley’s most well-liked identification revolves round toughness, protection, dominating across the rim and profitable a principally half-court battle. His previous two UConn groups ranked within the 300s nationally in tempo, and he hasn’t had a group rank inside the highest 200 in 3-point try fee since 2013. He would relatively recruit highschool gamers he can develop over the course of 4 years. Final 12 months’s group had solely two transfers — and one got here from Hurley’s earlier cease at Rhode Island.
However regardless of a 1-5 stretch in late December and early January, this 12 months’s UConn group stays on observe to be Hurley’s finest group in faculty (and in response to KenPom, UConn’s finest group because the 2009 Last 4 group). It is occurring in a really un-Hurley-like style. The Huskies are essentially the most prolific 3-point taking pictures group Hurley has ever had, rating within the high 50 nationally in 3-point try fee and getting nearly 35% of their factors off 3-pointers, in response to KenPom.
This group pushes the tempo and appears to get out in transition. And 4 of its high 9 gamers — basically your complete backcourt — had been plucked out of the switch portal final spring.
“That is extra enjoyable to teach,” Hurley mentioned.
The transformation did not occur accidentally.
Regardless of good common seasons the previous two years — 24 Large East wins in two seasons was UConn’s finest two-year run since 2008 and 2009, when Calhoun was in cost — UConn was bounced within the first spherical of every of the previous two NCAA tournaments. Hurley needed extra firepower shifting ahead, and with 4 of the group’s high 5 scorers leaving after final season, the Huskies wanted quick manufacturing. Andre Jackson, Hawkins and preseason Large East Participant of the Yr Adama Sanogo had been going to be the core, however how they surrounded these three anchors would decide how the group fared in 2022-23.
“In April, you are not going to have the ability to substitute that with highschool gamers. The portal was the best way to go,” Murray mentioned. “I believe Danny made the dedication in his thoughts that he needed to essentially place a higher emphasis on spacing and ball motion. We completely went into the portal saying taking pictures, taking pictures, taking pictures. That was intentional.”
‘It is getting worn’
WHEN SOMEONE WALKS right into a UConn observe, it is laborious to not discover a large cardboard cutout of a trophy on the sideline. Proper now it is the Large East regular-season trophy. Earlier this season, it was the Phil Knight Invitational trophy — which the Huskies secured again in November with consecutive wins over Oregon, Alabama and Iowa State.
It goes in all places with the group. On the highway, on airplanes and in locker rooms, and it’s current at each observe and pregame shootaround. It has been a staple of Hurley groups for a number of years, relationship again to Rhode Island.
After the common season ends, the cardboard cutout will change to the Large East event trophy after which, in fact, the NCAA championship trophy.
“It is getting worn,” Hurley joked. “We have to get one earlier than it is fully beat up.”
The final word trophy feels a bit additional away than it did just a few weeks in the past, when UConn was 14-0 and No. 2 within the nation. 5 losses in six video games dropped the Huskies to 4-5 within the Large East and out of the highest 10, however they rebounded to beat Butler and regain some momentum getting into Wednesday’s sport in opposition to convention chief Xavier.
The cardboard trophy on the sideline represents one among Hurley’s key coping mechanisms: visualization. It not solely reveals what UConn is working towards but additionally is a reminder that there is nonetheless lots left to play for. Hurley likes to say the Huskies are within the midst of the “we season,” with the “me season” — NIL, portal, NBA — coming after they lose their closing sport, and the hope is that gamers trying over and seeing a trophy helps refocus for the stretch run.
“It offers you a why,” Jackson mentioned.
Earlier in his profession, Hurley was on the trail to turning into a coach who shined brightly and burned out rapidly. Now, he is in it for the lengthy haul.
“I would like these children authentically to need to play for me,” he mentioned. “Due to how a lot I really like teaching.”