Dan Hurley was announced as the 19th head coach of the UConn men’s basketball program Thursday, and Friday afternoon he was introduced during a press conference at the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center. Here, quickly, are five takeaways from the presser.
1. It was incredibly difficult for Hurley to leave Rhode Island
Hurley just finished his sixth season at Rhode Island with the Rams’ loss to Duke in the round of 32 last weekend. He built that program into an A-10 contender and developed great relationships with many of the players and staff he met at URI, and breaking the news he’d be heading to UConn was part of the reason his decision making process was drawn out.
“The hard part became telling people you love so much that you weren’t going to be there any more [at Rhode Island],” Hurley said.
2. The UConn brand is still strong
One topic Hurley kept coming back to during his opening remarks, as well as the Q&A portion of the presser, was his respect for the brand UConn has built with both of their basketball programs.
“UConn is one of the great brands in all of college basketball,” Hurley said.
He’s not at all worried about league affiliation, because when it comes to the American, the 45-year old coach believes the university’s brand “transcends the conference.”
“Walking around [during the recruiting period] with the UConn logo on your shirt is a powerful thing.”
3. UConn was Hurley’s “dream job”
Hurley said people close to him kept calling and texting him during his decision process, asking ‘Why haven’t you picked UConn yet?’ As far as schools he hoped of coaching in the future, UConn was at “the top of the list.”
“The No. 1 reason for me [in picking UConn] is that this was a dream job for me,” Hurley said.
4. He’s bringing a culture of hard work
With the current UConn roster seated to his right, Hurley talked briefly about the ways he will change the team’s culture, with an emphasis on hard work and playing with effort. He even called his strenuous practices “legendary.”
“Our goal is the be the hardest working, hardest playing team in the country,” Hurley said. “There’s not going to be a more connected team.”
5. Adams unsure of UConn future
One player potentially left in limbo with the arrival of Hurley as head coach is Jalen Adams, who played his first three years under previous coach Kevin Ollie, and expressed complete support for Ollie after being eliminated from the 2018 AAC Championship eight days ago. Adams was the team’s leading scorer each of the last two years, and is unsure of where his career will go next.
“Definitely not transferring, but I’m not entirely sure,” Adams said of his future at UConn, speaking with a crowd of media members after Hurley left the podium.
His other option would be to turn pro, and that a decision he will grapple with over the next few weeks. He is excited about his new coach.
“I’m looking forward to getting in the gym and working with [Hurley],” Adams said.