Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bob Hurley- A Great Coach Leading a Great Team

The name Bob Hurley goes hand-in-hand with New Jersey high school basketball. The head coach of the St. Anthony Friars is a living legend in the hoops world. Coach Hurley's team is near the top of the state ranknigs every year, and has competed for national titles a number of times as well. This year, the Friars are undefeated and considered by many as the top high school team in America. Coach Hurley was kind enough to take some time and talk with me after his team's dominant win over John Carroll (MD) on Friday night.

NB: Start to finish, you guys were in control of that game. What went into that?
BH: I think we jumped them defensively early. We were very concerned about their size, and I think our quickness bothered their size early. We got out and got some run-outs for lay-ups . . . got a chance to get people shots. Mike Rosario, who had a great game, really waited on his first couple shots. He really wasn’t out looking to shoot the first shot of the game. We got some other people off, and then I think Mike wound up having a fabulous game . . . I couldn’t have been happier with the way we played in the first half.

NB: How were you able to compensate [for playing without] Dominic Cheek?
BH: I’m blessed, I start Alberto Eastwick, who’s going to Fordham, so I have a kid coming off the bench who’s a Division I player. . . . We have a stat sheet called the “effort sheet” and he won the effort sheet today. And he tied actually with Jamee Jackson, who was [making] only his second start today. He started [at] center because AJ Rogers is coming off the flu. . . . I think our first seven played very well today. And it’s good for us for the future, because knowing that we’re missing Dominic and 6’8” Madut Bol, [who was] out with the flu also.

NB: You have a lot of guys with the flu. Do you know when [they will be] back?
BH: I think Dominic and Madut will both play next Tuesday against Our Savior New American. We have Elizabeth on Sunday. I don’t think they’ll be back. I don’t think they’ll be physically ready for that.

NB: You mentioned [that] you got a guy going to Fordham. You got Tyshawn Taylor going to Marquette, Rosario heading to Rutgers. What’s it like having so many DI players on the team?
BH: Well, I’m going to enjoy it for this entire run, because next year . . . I’m back to the pack. I’ll have the same concerns high school coaches normally have, trying to figure out who’s in the starting lineup. We’re blessed right now, we have a group of seniors, that since sophomore year have developed tremendously. On a great team, kids are accepting sharing the ball, and a kid like Travon Woodall who’s going to Pitt, welcomes coming off the bench a couple of minutes into the game . . . He’s one of our six starters, but we start the game with him sitting. So, chemistry has been great. They play hard. It’s been a pleasure to work with the kids.

NB: You mentioned that you guys are a great team. You guys are widely considered the best team in the country right now. Do you feel any added pressure, or is it just going about business as usual?
BH: We talk about the bandwagon of life, and a lot of people have jumped on the St. Anthony’s bandwagon, but our goals are not to please the people who have jumped on the bandwagon. Our goal is to reach the goal we set, which is [to] win a state championship. So if we lose three times between now and the end of the season and everybody forgets about us, but we win a state championship, we’ll be very happy, because that’s what we are going to try to do right now. For . . . our school, it has particular meaning because if we win a state championship, we’ll set a national record with 25. We’re tied now for the national record with 24.

NB: What’s it like for you, you know, with your son [Danny Hurley] also in the state of New Jersey running [the program at] St. Benedict’s?
BH: We’re very proud of him. He’s done a great job building the program there. . . . He’s got it now where it’s nationally known in only a short period of time. . . . I think he’s enjoying being a high school coach.

NB: You guys have to replace a lot of guys for next season, like you mentioned, [you have a] big senior class this year, [with] a few juniors on the team. Are there any guys you got your eyes on to replace some of them?
BH: We’re very happy with the way Jamee Jackson has been playing. It gives us good hope for next year. Devone McCloud was a little guard who played quite a bit in the second half. I think . . . he’ll be able to help us next year, and obviously, Dominic . . . we are going to lean on him extensively next year to be a very big, you know, part of the way we play both offensively and defensively. This happens in high school, everybody else is gone. We need the returning varsity kids, and our freshman and jayvee to find a couple of kids that can build up some depth, but we have no illusions about where we’ll be next year. . . . We’re going to enjoy this whole experience, and then next year we’ll have a dangerous team, but we won’t have as many weapons.

NB: How are you able to get so many top-notch players to come to this school?
BH: Well, we’ve always had a reputation for developing guards, and I don’t mind playing a bunch of them. . . . I don’t know actually, why things [have happened this way], because I’m not the easiest guy to play for. I’m very demanding, and I’m on the kids nonstop. While they’re in high school . . . they don’t necessarily understand it. I think by the time they get to college they enjoy it, but that isn’t what would necessarily make somebody want to come to the school to see how hard I work with them. That may not be as appealing as something else, but we’ve always managed to have good teams because we . . . know what we’re doing too.

NB: What was it like having a book written about you guys, The Miracle of St. Anthony? . . . Was that enjoyable?
BH: It’s very much like what’s going on now. They’re doing a documentary on this particular team, so we’ve had a whole year of someone following [us] around. . . . It’s interesting. . . . I think the documentary is harder because I have a microphone on me basically six days a week, and there’s hours of trying to be the same person, yet maybe be a bit a little more politically correct in my delivery. Whereas when the book was written, I had a very difficult group of kids to work with, and my frustration level at times was through the roof.

Coach Hurley may be demanding, as he siad he was, but his style is certainly working. Maybe some other high school coahces will want to follow Coach Hurley's lead and become a bit tougher to play for. Regardless, Bob Hurley is one of the top high school basketball coaches in the nation. He has been producing Divison I talent like it's a piece of cake, and it certainly is not. Coach Hurley said that he is blessed to have such a loaded roster, and he may very well be right, but Bob Hurley is one heck of a basketball coach, and we are blessed to have had him invloved with high school hoops for such a long time.

Note- photo is from www.dailyhampshiregazette.com

No comments: