Dan Hurley, head coach of the University of Connecticut (UConn) men’s basketball team, is in position to lead the Huskies to their fifth NCAA championship, putting him on a trajectory to solidify his family’s legacy in the sport. The son of legendary high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. and the younger brother of former Duke star and current Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley, Dan has always exuded an idiosyncratic personality, mixing self-deprecation with dry humor. But as he stands on the precipice of greatness, his affable façade is starting to crack under the weight of expectations.
UConn’s dominance during this year’s tournament has been impressive, with the Huskies winning each game by an average of 20.6 points. If they beat the San Diego State Aztecs in the championship game, it would be UConn’s first title under Hurley. He took over the program in 2018 and has quickly elevated it back to a national power.
Here are some of the highlights of Dan Hurley’s journey to the national championship game and what a win would mean for him and his family.
Dan Hurley’s Humble Beginnings
Dan Hurley grew up in a basketball family. His father, Bob Sr., was a legendary coach at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he won 28 state titles and compiled a record of 1,185–125. Bob Jr., Dan’s older brother, was a star point guard at Duke in the early 1990s and is now the head coach at Arizona State.
Dan played for his father in high school and later followed his brother’s footsteps to Seton Hall University, where he played from 1991 to 1996. He then embarked on a career in coaching, spending several years as an assistant before landing his first head coaching job at Wagner College in 2010. He later coached at the University of Rhode Island before coming to UConn in 2018.
Since taking over at UConn, Hurley has been building toward this moment. The Huskies struggled in his first season, finishing with a record of 16-17. But they rebounded last year and were poised to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, UConn has been a force, winning the Big East tournament and steamrolling through the NCAA tournament.
The Huskies’ defense has been stifling, and their offense has been efficient, with several players stepping up in key moments. James Bouknight, a sophomore guard, has been the team’s leading scorer and is expected to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft later this year.
What a Win Would Mean
If UConn beats San Diego State on Monday night, it would be the fifth NCAA championship for the Huskies and the first for Dan Hurley. It would also cement the Hurley family’s place in basketball lore. Bob Sr. is already a Hall of Famer, and Bobby has established himself as one of the top coaches in the country. Dan has always been seen as the little brother, but a championship would put him in rare company.
It would also be a validation of Hurley’s unorthodox approach to coaching. He has always been open about his flaws and insecurities, using self-deprecation as a way to connect with his players and the media. But as he has become more successful, that approach has drawn more scrutiny. Some have accused him of being too hard on himself or of putting too much pressure on his players.
At UConn, Hurley has quickly transformed the program back into a national powerhouse. After a rough start in his first season, Hurley has led the Huskies to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, including this year’s trip to the Final Four.
Under Hurley’s leadership, the Huskies have also been successful off the court. UConn has consistently been one of the top programs in the country in terms of academic performance and community service.
Hurley’s approach to coaching is unique, but it has clearly resonated with his players. He is known for his fiery demeanor on the sidelines, but he also has a great sense of humor and a genuine love for his players.
As the Huskies prepare for their national championship game against San Diego State, Hurley is focused on the task at hand. He knows that this is a chance for him to add his own chapter to the Hurley family legacy, and he’s not taking it lightly.
Regardless of the outcome, Dan Hurley has already solidified his place in the world of college basketball. He may have big shoes to fill, but he has shown that he is more than capable of leaving his own mark on the game.