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How UConn’s Dan Hurley turned the most important teaching character in school basketball

Dan Hurley took a deep breath of relief in the back hallway of TD Garden. The Huskies’ sixth-year head coach had cried earlier in the day, shedding tears when deep in thought about UConn’s journey, and the pressure of pursuing the first back-to-back national championships in men’s college basketball since Florida in 2006 and ’07. 

How UConn’s Dan Hurley turned the most important teaching character in school basketball

Dan Hurley took a deep breath of reduction within the again hallway of TD Backyard.

The Huskies’ sixth-year head coach had cried earlier within the day, shedding tears when deep in considered UConn‘s journey, and the stress of pursuing the primary back-to-back nationwide championships in males’s school basketball since Florida in 2006 and ’07. 

In downtown Boston on Saturday evening, Hurley bought a second to smile and soak within the greatness of his program, which continued to rewrite historical past with an eye-popping 30-0 run en path to a 77-52 win over Illinois to punch a ticket to a second straight Last 4.

“I am a crier,” Hurley instructed FOX Sports activities. “I snort, I yell and I cry. Jim Valvano mentioned that is a full day. 

“Clearly, you pour a whole lot of your self into this job, a whole lot of your self emotionally into your gamers and into your group. Bodily, these seasons are lengthy and if you’re actually going for it the way in which we’re, you’re crammed with emotion. You permit the resort and there are tons of of UConn followers high-fiving you on the way in which to get on the bus to return over right here [to the arena] to go on your second Last 4 in a row. After which there are issues going by means of your thoughts too, that this can be my final yr teaching my son [Andrew]. I’ve bought to get Cam Spencer [a transfer] and Stephon Castle [a freshman] to the Last 4. This crew deserves Phoenix. You are emotional going by means of that.” 

All of that built-up starvation and drive is unleashed when Hurley’s crew steps on the courtroom. The Huskies got here off a 10-for-30 taking pictures efficiency within the first half in opposition to the Illini, after which opened the second half by scoring 25 unanswered factors. The 30-0 run – relationship again to the primary half – marked this system’s longest in a sport in 34 years. And, this got here on a night when first-team All-American Tristen Newton didn’t document a made discipline objective and UConn shot 3-for-17 from 3-point territory.

“We all know it is not regular to return to again,” mentioned sophomore Alex Karaban, one in all 5 Huskies who scored in double-figures within the 25-point Elite-Eight win. “However there’s not a single regular individual on this locker room.”

What UConn has completed by means of 4 video games on this event will not be regular. 

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The Huskies’ +111 level differential is the fourth-highest mark of any crew by means of the Elite Eight within the NCAA Match. The one groups to have the next level differential: 1993 Kentucky: +124 (misplaced in Last 4), 1999 Duke: +120 (misplaced in title sport) and 1996 Kentucky: +113 (received title).

UConn can be the one crew within the sport’s historical past to win 10 straight NCAA Match video games by 13-plus factors. The Huskies have received 18 video games this season by 20-plus factors, and 15 of these have been by 25-plus factors, essentially the most of any Division 1 crew this season.

We’re watching one of many single best seasons in NCAA males’s basketball historical past, and Hurley is unabashed to say it, and to point out it in his method. When he threw his fingers within the air to pump up the UConn-heavy crowd with beneath 4 minutes remaining and his crew main by 30 on Saturday evening, you could possibly see why he is the proper match for a faculty that followers check with as “The Basketball Capitol of the World.”

That marriage is what has led to a blue blood being reborn, and Hurley changing into the most important teaching character within the sport proper now. 

“I simply wished to rejoice with our followers,” Hurley mentioned. “Dave Benedict [UConn’s athletic director] noticed one thing in me as a mid-major coach, being a Hurley, so I might have thick sufficient pores and skin … then there’s the fiery character that is excellent for this fan base. You may’t have an empty swimsuit over there with these individuals. You have to have a monster on the sidelines at Connecticut. Plus, we’re a program the place our gamers have a whole lot of confidence and a whole lot of swagger. Our fan base is obnoxious as s— on social. So everybody hates us.

“It was an opportunity to rejoice with them as a result of our fan base and our group proper now … It is us in opposition to the world of faculty basketball, and I wished to rejoice with them slightly bit.”

When Hurley talks about having thick pores and skin, he is referring to his dad, Bob Sr., who received 26 state championships at St. Anthony Excessive College in New Jersey, in addition to his brother, Bobby, the two-time nationwide champion at Duke and now Arizona State head coach, who will not need to journey far to help his brother within the Last 4 subsequent weekend. 

Now, Hurley is the famous person within the household, silencing his doubters and, within the course of, making those that query UConn’s standing on school basketball’s blue-blood pedestal look silly. He is aware of that not everyone likes him. He understands some opposing coaches are rubbed the unsuitable approach by his fiery demeanor on the sidelines. And he would not give a rattling — he simply retains successful.

“If I’m a type of [faces of the sport], I am in all probability an excellent one as a result of I am genuine,” Hurley mentioned. “I am principally a highschool coach masquerading on the school stage. I do not actually care what individuals consider my depth or ardour. It clearly exhibits up with my crew with how we play. We do not cheat. We do not lie. We’re about all the correct issues. Simply at occasions, I am an asshole.

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“When your protection is elite, which ours is, and your offense is elite, which ours is, we’re not flawed in any specific approach. That makes you as bulletproof as potential.”

Maybe no participant exemplifies these attributes higher than Donovan Clingan, the Huskies’ dominant huge man who shares in his coach’s swagger and selected to remain in his house state to play for Hurley and the Huskies.

Clingan was named the East Area Most Excellent Participant, totaling 22 factors, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and three steals within the victory over Illinois. Following the sport, Hurley was fast to go with Clingan, saying he is an instance of why every little thing in Storrs has blended so properly, as a result of a man who could be a ten/10 on the “will get us” meter with Connecticut’s fan base, fits up for this crew and is wired just one approach – to win.

“We love the problem of this,” Hurley mentioned. “It is what will get you off the bed within the morning, being judged by the best to ever do it. However now we have all winners, man. It is the connection they’ve with one another, and the arrogance they present up with on the courtroom. 

“We play with an vitality and an depth like we’ve not completed a rattling factor within the sport.” 

And that is precisely why these Huskies are within the territory few have entered, and why Hurley says he is absolutely embracing being one of many faces of faculty basketball.

John Fanta is a nationwide school basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports activities. 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 Community to offering commentary on The Subject of 68 Media Community. Observe him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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