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    Sunday, October 02, 2022

    Hurley family passion for basketball on display during Hall of Fame appearance

    Moderator Kyle Belanger, center, interviews Dan and Bob Hurley at the Hoophall Hangout Friday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    Bob Hurley talks with some young fans during an autograph session at the Hoophall Hangout Friday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Bob made an appearance with his son Dan, right, UConn's basketball coach. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    UConn basketball coach Dan Hurley holds a photo from his playing days at Seton Hall given to him to sign during an autograph session at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday in Springfield, Mass. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    Springfield, Mass. — Fans waiting in line took turns approaching the table where Bob Hurley Sr. and son Dan sat signing autographs on Friday afternoon inside the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

    A New Jersey high school coaching legend and 2010 Hall of Fame inductee, Bob clearly enjoyed the interaction.

    He told some high school kids from Connecticut about the great Calvin Murphy, who grew up in Norwalk, went on to have a storied pro career and enter the Hall of Fame. When he spotted a young boy wearing a Stephen Curry jersey, he mentioned the NBA star’s work ethic.

    Nearby, Dan occasionally glanced over at his father and smiled.

    They share a passion and joy for the game that comes from growing up in a basketball family. Dan learned from watching his father coach and playing for him at St. Anthony in Jersey City, New Jersey.

    “He’s got 49 years worth (of stories),” said Dan, who’s entering his fifth season as UConn head coach. “I grew up around that. That was like my house. This is how the game becomes a central figure. You can’t live without it — the season, the players.

    “... Just his commitment level to his players, to doing it all year round is why we’re doing what we’re doing in the summer. There are some programs where it may be optional for players to be on campus during the summer, or they may be doing a lot of really light work.

    “Just how hard we work every second we’re on campus is a reflection of how my Dad committed to player development. Then, the preparation, the detail that my Dad took to the court.”

    Any visit to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is special for the Hurleys.

    On Friday, Dan and Bob began their appearance as part of the HoopHall Hangouts summer series with an interview session in front of fans, covering everything from how the family bonded over basketball, the importance of education and the impact a coach can have on players.

    “This is pretty cool,” said Bob, who also worked as a probation officer during his coaching career.

    Bob, who’s retired and runs the Hurley Family Foundation as well as running camps, used to visit the Hall of Fame with Dan and Bobby, now the head coach at Arizona State. They fired up shots on the court that is now called the Jerry Colangelo Court of Dreams.

    Only closing time on that Saturday years ago prevented the Hurleys from a longer visit.

    “My wrists had locked for the amount of shots that I had taken in that time,” Bob said. “Meanwhile, they were like 13 and 11, and could have stayed much longer. From those days, with a dream and just loving being here, wow. Time goes by. Look what happened. It’s amazing. Never could have been planned.”

    There was a time when being the son of a coaching legend proved to be a big burden for Dan.

    Dan struggled badly on and off the court during part of his Seton Hall career. He didn’t think his future would include the basketball profession.

    “When I was younger, it was (a burden),” Hurley said. “I didn’t handle it well in my teens and maybe in my 20s. For me, it was a comparison thing that made me crazy. You get older and you’re not dumb anymore, you’re proud of your family, you’re proud of being a part of such a successful group of people.

    “And you realize you are where you are because of them in large part.”

    That’s when Seton Hall coach George Blaney, who later in his career served as an associate head coach at UConn on Jim Calhoun’s staff, basically rescued Dan.

    ‘When he got the job, that’s what really changed the rest of my basketball life,“ Dan said. ”I played better and the impact that he had on me as a coach made me want to be a coach. Obviously, my Dad had a huge impact in how I coach and what I do. But I wouldn’t be a coach without coach Blaney. I don’t know what I would be doing because I was a mess when he got there.”

    Dan greatly appreciates his family and coaching journey from Jersey City to Storrs.

    He’s who he is today as a coach because of his father.

    “To grow up in a household with one of the greatest coaches of his generation at any level, it’s hard to (stink) as a coach,” Dan said. “It would be hard to screw it up. Really, it’s a recipe in terms of how you run your program day in and day out.”

    Bob is proud of Dan for what his son has accomplished at every stop of his coaching career.

    “Passion can get you a long way,” Bob said. “Look what Danny has been able to accomplish.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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