Jersey Boy Dan Hurley Finally Gains Entry Into Exclusive, But Crowded UConn Country Club Of Trophies

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HOUSTON – For a minute there late Monday night in the national championship afterglow, Connecticut coach Dan Hurley forgot his address.

“There’s so many people. My wife, Andrea. My boys. My dad. My brother. My mom,” he said after routing San Diego State, 76-59, in the title game as if accepting an Oscar.

“Jersey City,” he said and pumped up the volume. “Jersey City! Jersey City, New Jersey!”

Suddenly, he sounded like Springsteen in concert. Hurley is from Jersey City. He met Andrea Sirakides of Toms River, N.J., at Seton Hall in South Orange, N.J., where he played under coach P.J. Carlesimo, who is from Scranton, Pennsylvania, which is near Jersey.

“But now, I’ve got this new home in Connecticut,” he said.

Dan Hurley Is New Jersey Proud

Actually, not that new. Dan, Andrea and their boys have lived in the Storrs, Connecticut, area since 2018. That’s when Hurley left Rhode Island’s coaching job to become the UConn head coach.

But he will always be Jersey like his dad, Bob, the 26-time state championship basketball coach at St. Anthony’s High in Jersey City. And like his brother Bobby, the Arizona State coach who won two national titles as Duke’s point guard in 1991 and ’92.

“Maybe I don’t do a great job kissing the media’s ass and presenting this image that’s incredibly likable,” he said. “But I am who I am.”

He’s a Jersey Boy.

“I’m from Jersey City,” he said. “And this is how people from Jersey City act.”

Funny, Rollie Massimino and Gary Williams didn’t kiss up much to the media either on their way to coaching national championship teams at Villanova in 1985 and at Maryland in 2002, respectively. The late Massimino was from Hillside, New Jersey. Williams is from Collingswood. Hurley became the third head coach from New Jersey to win the national championship in men’s basketball.

Connecticut’s National Championship Trophy Case Is Crowded

OK, that’s one club, but he just got in a little more elitist one, albeit in the village of Storrs.

Hurley directed UConn to its fifth national championship in men’s basketball since 1999 and his first. UConn women’s coaching legend Geno Auriemma, 69, has won 11 since 1995 – most in college basketball history – men or women.

But the UConn Crown Club went dry on national titles since Auriemma’s last one in 2016. That’s a seven-year gap – the longest at UConn since Auriemma won the school’s first in either sport in 1995. Jim Calhoun won three for the men in 1999, 2004 and 2011 while Auriemma won in 2000, ’02-04 and ’09-10 and ’13. Kevin Ollie won the men’s fourth in 2014, and Auriemma added three more from 2014-16.

National Championship Trophies Abound

“When you’re in that Werth Champions Center with everything that Geno’s done and what they do on a yearly basis and all their hardware,” Hurley said and sighed. “And obviously we propped up in recruiting those four national championship trophies (from the men) in front of these kids. And we had nothing to do with them.”

UConn forward Adama Sanogo (middle) scored 17 points with 10 rebounds to lead his team over San Diego State, 76-59, Monday night in the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Dan Hurley Wanted Trophies Put Away

But Hurley had the men trophies relocated before the 2021-22 season when he felt his program was taking the next step. His first two teams went 16-17 and 6-12 (9th Big East) and 19-12 and 10-8 (5th). His third team in 2020-21 finished 15-8 and 11-6 (3rd). It reached the NCAA Tournament, but fell in the first round as a No. 7 seed to 10 Maryland, 63-54.

“So, we removed those trophies and got them out of our offices and said, ‘We don’t want any trophies in here until we’ve got our own,” he said.

Huskies Were 0-2 In NCAA Tournament

Last year, without the trophies around, the Huskies finished 23-10 and 13-7 (4th) and got into the NCAA Tournament as a 5 seed. Improvement. But they lost again in the first round to 12 seed New Mexico State, 70-63. And suddenly, Hurley wasn’t as good as his family name around Storrs. And he was in trouble entering his fifth season with no hardware. Then the Associated Press preseason poll left UConn out.

“They buried us before the season,” he said, sounding Jersey tough again. “They buried us at the midpoint.”

By Jan. 25, UConn had lost six of its previous eight games.

“We weren’t ranked at the beginning of the year, and we had a chip on our shoulder,” he said.

But UConn only finished tied for fourth in the Big East at 13-7 and got a No. 4 seed – third best in the league. Marquette won the conference and got a 2 seed, followed by Xavier with a 3. Then the Huskies drew No. 13 seed Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Dan Hurley Vs. The Boogeyman

Uh-oh, New York City native and two-time national champion head coach Rick Pitino was coaching the Gaels. Here comes a third straight first-round loss to a worse-seeded team, right?

“And then hysteria started,” Hurley said. “We were playing the boogeyman, Rick Pitino, and we were in big trouble.”

Iona became popular 12-5 upset pick as brackets cooked around the nation.

“We knew we couldn’t go out like suckers again in the first weekend,” Hurley said, or he may have to go back to Jersey. “We didn’t wear that around our players, but we certainly felt it. But we had an edge to us to start the year to prove people wrong.”

Connecticut Blew Everyone Away

And that they did. Iona and the Boogeyman, aka Michael Corleone, fell by 24. Saint Mary’s by 15. A hot Arkansas team that upset No. 1 seed and defending national champion Kansas lost by 23 and never led. No. 3 seed Gonzaga went quietly by 28. No. 5 seed Miami had knocked off No. 1 seed Houston and No. 2 seed Texas. But it never led UConn and lost by 13 on Saturday in the Final Four.

No. 5 seed San Diego State stifled No. 1 overall seed Alabama. But it was barely in the game Monday night and lost by 17.

If you watched all six of UConn’s tournament games on TV and went to the refrigerator at the wrong time, you never saw the Huskies behind.

“They had their way with the entire field this tournament,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “We ran into too good of a team. They’re are a reason why we didn’t play at our best.”

And now they’re making room for basketball national championship trophy No. 16 at the Werth Champions Center.

Dan Hurley Now Can Join The Huskies Club

“When you’re in a place like that, it’s a little bit empty until you feel like you can join the club,” Hurley said.

You’re in, Dan. And they’ll be bringing those other trophies back in with yours. UConn now trails only UCLA (11), Kentucky (8) and North Carolina (6) in men’s national titles. The Huskies are tied with Duke and Indiana at five. I’d say UConn is a blue blood.

“I feel like now we’ve held up our end of the bargain that the women’s team had been carrying for so long since forever, it seems like,” he said. “Coach Calhoun and Kevin Ollie, Geno, it feels good to accomplish what they’ve done.”

Not bad for the fourth place team in the Big East, which produced its first national championship since Villanova in 2018.

“I thought we were the best conference in the country this year,” Hurley said and went on to repeat that four times. The Big East was the best conference in the NCAA Tournament at 12-4. Creighton went 3-1, Xavier 2-1 and Marquette 1-1 with Providence at 0-1.

National Championship For Big East

“Clearly the best,” he said. “If Xavier doesn’t lose Zach Freemantle (foot injury in January), they’re very easily in the Final Four. Creighton was right there. Tough call away from maybe playing us tonight here. And then Shaka Smart (Marquette coach), for me, was the best coach in the country.”

Or Dan Hurley was the best coach in the country, but he couldn’t stop talking about the Big East as if it is in Jersey.

“We were the most successful in the NCAA Tournament, and we have the national championship,” he said. “So, we were the best league in the country. And I don’t think that’s going to change.”

Especially with the Boogeyman switching jobs to Big East member St. John’s.

“I don’t think we (the Big East) are going anywhere,” Hurley said. “I know we’re not.”

Neither are the trophies.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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