Over two decades after winning his second national championship playing for the Duke Blue Devils, in 1993, former college standout and NBA prospect Bobby Hurley is now on the opposite end of the basketball spectrum. Like his Hall of Fame father Bob and younger brother Dan, Hurley has joined the business that made the family name famous: head coaching.
This year, in his second season manning the helm at the University of Buffalo, Hurley led the Bulls to an overall record of 23-9 and the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship, plus their first ever NCAA tournament appearance. Last year, the team won the MAC Eastern Division championship under his watch and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Buffalo will be a team to watch going forward after years of substandard play.
It’s certainly been an interesting road for Hurley. After playing for his father at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he helped lead the program to an overall record of 115-5 across four years as well as four state titles as the starting point guard, he went to play for another Hall of Famer in Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Hurley was the starting point guard for all four of his seasons at Duke, making the Final Four every year and winning national championships his junior and senior seasons. Over those four years, he averaged 12.4 points and 7.7 assists per game.
Hurley was then drafted seventh overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 1993 NBA draft, but was limited to 19 games his rookie year after being injured in a serious car accident. He would return to play the following season but never averaged more than 16.3 minutes per contest over the next four years and retired in 1998. Now, after a few years as an assistant under his brother at Wagner College in Staten Island and then the University of Rhode Island, Hurley is in charge of a team of his own, and has big shoes to fill from a family standpoint.
As I mentioned before, his father Bob is the head coach of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. I grew up in New York City, just a 20-30 minute train ride away from Jersey City, and actually had the pleasure of watching this team on occasion when visiting my family who lived in the area. Simply put, Bob Hurley’s accomplishments on paper don’t do him justice.
The man has won 27 state championships with St. Anthony (25 has a head coach, two as an assistant), including eight in a row from 1983-1991 during which his sons were playing for him, as well as four national championships. He is also in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and I don’t know what it is about him, but his teams are GOOD. The man is a master at connecting with his players, most of whom live at or below the poverty line like most of St Anthony’s student body, and he is showing no signs of slowing down at age 67. This year, he achieved his 1,100th career win and the Friars outscored opponents 2,086-1,161.
His younger son Dan has also left his mark on the New Jersey high school coaching scene. Prior to taking jobs at Wagner and Rhode Island, he was manning the sidelines of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey, turning the team into a perennial contender and often finishing behind his father in the standings. As was mentioned before, he brought big brother Bobby with him to Wagner and Rhode Island as an assistant. This year, he will coach the Rams in the NIT.
That leaves Bobby as the last Hurley standing, as St. Anthony recently lost to rival Roselle Catholic High School in a championship game. Though he has the least experience of anyone in the family, Bobby Hurley is now set to be the only coach in the family to ever coach in an NCAA tournament game.
His Bulls drew a No. 12 seed and will face off against the No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers in Columbus, with his opposing coach being the veteran Bob Huggins. West Virginia’s strong man-to-man defense will pose a challenge to Hurley’s players, but keep in mind that Buffalo ranked 28th in the nation in scoring and 16th in in rebounding, plus finished with a record identical to that of WVU.
It’s going to be a big test for Hurley but with his dad and brother cheering him on, either from the stands or from afar, he just has to remember one thing.
You’ve got this, coach. After all, it’s in your blood!
*Section Photo credit to Amy E. Voigt, Toledo Blade; Featured Photo (above) credit to Harry Scull Jr., Buffalo News