The date is March 8th 2018, a 14-18 UCONN team has just been defeated by SMU in an empty, dreary, and lifeless Amway Center at the AAC conference tournament.
Two days later Kevin Ollie was fired by UCONN.
Most would agree that despite the fact Ollie had won a title in 2014, made the AAC final in 2015, and a NCAA tournament appearance in 2016, it was time for Ollie to leave. He proved he could only win with Jim Calhoun’s recruits, was a poor in game decision maker and he was not the man to lead UCONN men’s basketball for years to come.
After any coach is fired, one question is asked-“Who will be the new coach?”. For UCONN, they would have to look far and wide to find the man to lead one of the most storied and successful basketball programs of the last 30 years. Names such as Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski, former Louisville and Boston Celtics head coach Rick Pitino, and former Xavier head coach and current Louisville coach Chris Mack were mentioned.
However, UCONN only had to look to neighboring state Rhode Island to find their man. That man was Dan Hurley.
Hurley comes from basketball blood. His father Bob Hurley won 26 state titles in 39 years as coach of St. Anthony’s in NJ. While his brother, Bobby played at Duke and is the head coach at Arizona State.
While at URI, Hurley led the Rams to 2 NCAA appearances and 75 wins in six seasons. He took URI from a bottom feeder of the A-10, to one of the best teams in the conference. This, combined with Hurley’s northeast recruiting success proved he was the man for UCONN.
Hurley’s first year at the helm of UCONN was underwhelming to say the least. UCONN was below .500 and lost in the second round of the AAC tourney. Despite this, many UCONN fans still had hope in Hurley. The excitement for Huskies fans had grown even greater. As on June 27th 2019, it was announced the UCONN Huskies were headed back to the Big East. This created an insurmountable about of hype that was now in UCONN basketball.
You could feel this hype entering the ‘19-’20 season for UCONN. They had a strong freshman class in James Bouknight , Jalen Gaffney, and Akok and returned many key players from the year before. In November, UCONN beat top 20 Florida at home and Dan Hurley could be seen hugging every student as he walked back to the locker room. Dan Hurley showed he cared about UCONN, he showed he wanted to be at UCONN, and most importantly he showed he wanted to win at UCONN.
UCONN is set to be a contender in the Big East. Gampel Pavilion and the XL center will be sold out for every game. This is all because of one man….Dan Hurley-The Carpenter.
Photo: Cent Cigar