Maybe the biggest name of the coaching off-season to be on the move to a new home is Danny Hurley. A member of basketball royalty, Hurley was at the top of the list of many schools for their coach opening. In the end, he chose the University of Connecticut. After restoring life in the Rhode Island program, where took the Rams to two consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, he will attempt to resurrect a very proud UConn basketball program coming off back to back to losing season (the first losing seasons in the past 30 years).
How is he going to do it? In a Sports Illustrated article, Danny Hurley explains he is going to a holistic approach: “In the locker room before the press conference, I explained my background as a player, as a coach, my family, and then the approach that I was gonna take with these guys. I’m taking a holistic approach to their development. I’m trying to make them better men. ‘You’re gonna be better players and have better careers and we’re all gonna be very successful together.’ I had to explain to them that I expect them to be excellent in every part of their lives. We’re gonna be better than we were last year. We’ll carry ourselves better, the product on the court has gotta look different in terms of how hard we play and how well-connected we are to each other. We gotta see that UConn toughness that has produced four national championships in the last 20 years. I’m gonna set really high standards. I’m gonna develop all-around people. And this is UConn. We just came off two losing seasons. We gotta get this fixed, fellas. Because this is UConn and you can’t really do this here, this whole losing thing.”
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Danny Hurley has a big task on his hands. UConn, a powerhouse program has been going through some tough times and turmoil since the 2014 national championship season. Since then, they have been “kicked out” of the Big East (after being an original member) and forced to join the less respected American Conference, they have experienced their first losing season in the past 30 years, they have fired one of their own in Kevin Ollie, and they are amidst an investigation into wrongdoing.
However, rebuilding isn’t new to Danny Hurley who has rebuilt several programs on his coaching journey that has led his to Storrs, Connecticut. He turned St. Benedict’s High School into a national powerhouse. He took a 5-win program at Wagner and turned it into a 25-win team 2 years later. He took a Rhode Island program plagued with problems on the court and in the classroom to the dance back-to-back seasons and a perennial power in the Atlantic-10 Conference. So if there is anyone who can get UConn back on track (and quickly) it is Hurley. His tough love, winning mentality, and approach to player development will be the keys to his turning around the program. While he knows this rebuild may take some time, you won’t’ be hearing any excuses from Hurley or the Huskies. They will carry the winning mindset and attitude into every practice and game. If you can count on any one thing from UConn this year, expect them to be the hardest playing team on the floor night in and night out.