UConn's Hurley has seen it all at Madison Square Garden

New York — Odds are only a select number of people can say they’ve experienced Madison Square Garden as a fan, player, high school and college basketball coach.

Dan Hurley belongs to that unique club.

The UConn men's basketball coach talked about his history at the World’s Most Famous Arena before bringing UConn to New York to face Indiana on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic.

“So many memories at the Garden,” Hurley said.

Hurley, a native of Jersey City, N.J., regularly made trips to New York to attend events, watching the New York Knicks during his first visit.

The most memorable thing that happened that day occurred outside the arena.

“I went to Cosby’s, a sporting goods store, and that’s when I met an offensive lineman from the (Cincinnati) Bengals who bought me a Bengals hat,” Hurley recalled. “That was my Mean Joe Greene moment.”

Hurley went to “tons of Knicks games” over the years. He saw the Bulls and Michael Jordan a couple of times. He also was at MSG for the Knicks-Rockets game the night of the police chase of O.J. Simpson.

He’s also seen WWE wrestling, boxing and MMA events, the Harlem Globetrotters and many concerts.

His favorite concert?

“I saw Billy Joel and Elton John there with my wife,” Hurley said.

His best game there as a player during his Seton Hall days?

“I remember the most important game in my career was the year after I quit the team, playing St. John’s at the Garden,” Hurley said. “I had a really good game. We beat St. John’s in overtime. I hit a 3 to put it into overtime. … I was able to finish out my career with coach (George) Blaney. So I remember that one.”

Hurley coached at MSG while at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J. UConn made its fourth appearance Tuesday since Hurley took charge.

His fondest coaching memory in the building?

“I’d say St. Benedict’s-Rice when Kemba (Walker) was at Rice and (now UConn assistant) Kimani (Young) was coaching at Rice and playing them at the Garden. It was pretty cool there as a high school coach.”

Hurley-Miller connection

Hurley and Indiana coach Archie Miller have similar backgrounds. Both come from basketball families.

“We grew up around the game,” Hurley said.

Hurley’s father, Bob Sr., is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame following a legendary coaching career at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. His brother, Bobby, was an All-American and two-time national championship guard at Duke and now coaches at Arizona State.

Miller and his brother, Sean, were coached by their father, John, at Blackhawk High School in Beaver Falls, Pa. John won 657 games in his 35-year coaching career. Sean played at Pittsburgh and now coaches at Arizona.

“Big shadows that were cast before us with dads and older brothers, so we’re connected that way,” Hurley said.

It’s not the first time that they’ve coached against each other. They used to regularly battle in the Atlantic 10 — Hurley at Rhode Island and Miller at Dayton.

A familiar face

The first game of the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader featured Louisville and Texas Tech.

Steven Enoch, who spent two years at UConn before transferring, is the starting center for the top-ranked Cardinals. He entered Tuesday’s game averaging 10.7 points and 7.4 rebounds.

He’s one of 20 players on the watch list for the 2020 Kareem Abdul Jabbar Center of the Year Award.

Enoch attended Norwalk High School and St. Thomas More before heading to UConn. He averaged 3.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 12.1 minutes per game in 29 appearances in his final season for the Huskies in 2016-17 .

News and notes

UConn freshman James Bouknight, who’s from Brooklyn, expected to have “a whole bunch” of family members on hand for his Madison Square Garden debut. He attended the Big East tournament last season. … Second home: UConn has played a game at Madison Square Garden in 36 of the last 37 years. And the Huskies will be back again next season when they return to the Big East. … Redshirt junior Alterique Gilbert is starting to find his groove. He’s 9 for 17 from the field, 5 for 11 from three, to go with 13 assists and two turnovers in the last two games, averaging 12.5 points per game. “I’m just slowing down and seeing the floor, really listening to a lot of directions that coach is giving me,” Gilbert said. … The Huskies were winless in three previous appearances in the Jimmy V Classic. … UConn is seventh in the nation in blocks per game, averaging 6.5. …. Up next: After an exam break, UConn hosts St. Peter’s on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at the XL Center in Harford.

g.keefe@theday.com

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