The URI Rams season ended at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday. By Monday, there were already reports from Jeff Jacobs of the New Haven Register that Coach Dan Hurley was on his way to Storrs, CT to take over coaching a UConn program that is only four years removed from its last National Championship.
Such is life when you rebuild a program in short order. You get the foundation right (E.C. Matthews, Hassan Martin) and keep adding to it with desirable pieces that fit your style (Jared Terrell, Stan Robinson). By the time it’s finished, you have Jeff Dowtin and Fatts Russell, components that would work for any entity, and people from afar say I want that person to build my house.
Those people have also seen how it was built, and that the process is repeatable. The Rhode Island program was built over three or four years and sustained for a couple more.
There were the early years, when wins were hard to come by but a culture was being formed. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see players kicked out of practice for not doing the right things on the court. Or, for the whole team to hear Hurley yell “On the line!” to run sprints when only one player wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do off the court.
More wins came in the following years, then postseason play, before conference championships and NCAA Tournament wins. Now, with the program fully established, this type of success is expected, by the players, coaches, administration, and importantly, the fanbase.
When a coach has gone through all of that, built it brick-by-brick, like Dan Hurley has, it will never be an easy choice to leave.
Accd to source, the Hurley to UConn report of near done deal is patently false. At same time, hopefully URI admin (beyond athletics) prepared to be creative and proactive to stave off suitors.
— Chris DiSano (@CDiSano44) March 19, 2018
It would be naive to think Hurley, or any coach, would stay put simply based on the great emotional toll leaving may take. It happens every offseason, in every sport.
It’s also true though that emotion does play a part. Does this sound like a person who wouldn’t take emotion into account?
After all, he did stay coaching in high school for nine years, when he surely had chances to move on. That’s not something coaches only looking for their next opportunity would do.
One last hint, and again, we’re only ten days out from when he said this about Freshman Fatts Russell unprompted at the Atlantic 10 Tournament:
Dan Hurley very well might leave for UConn or Pitt, but that quote embodies the URI coach. He may have opportunities for more money, bigger crowds, more luxuries now, but while he’s been the coach in Kingston, he’s been thinking only about coaching the Rhode Island Rams.
They’ve been his family for six years, and that’s a tough thing to rebuild anywhere.