With unmatched experience rebuilding four struggling hoop programs to national prominence, Danny Hurley reveals the secrets to maximizing personnel in the face of enormous challenges. Having led UConn Huskies to a National Title in 2023, Hurley offers solution-oriented strategies for creating a team environment for success, unifying an organization around a shared vision, and supporting team members to achieve their best as individuals and a company.
The Art of Perserverance
Head Coach Danny Hurley is an expert in perseverance – he has served as the architect for multiple rebuilding projects and led the UConn Huskies – who were previously unranked – to the National Title. In the midst of these turnarounds, Hurley persevered personally and inspired his players to persevere as a unified team – through strategy, motivation, and resilience.
Coach Danny Hurley has led multiple teams to national prominence through strategic rebuilding projects, including the NCAA 2023 Champion Huskies. Having made an immediate impact and left his mark on the programs he’s rehabilitated, and shares his insights on recruitment, maximizing personnel, motivation, and mentorship in this compelling talk.
Head Coach Danny Hurley led the UConn Huskies from unranked to National Champions in 2023, and shares strategic takeaways
Head Coach DANNY HURLEY knows what it takes to be an architect of success – having rebuilt multiple struggling hoops programs to national prominence. Most recently, he led the previously unranked UConn Huskies to the NCAA 2023 championship title. In one of the most impressive March Madness runs in history, the Huskies defeated San Diego State 76-59 to clinch the title.
One of the most dynamic coaches in college basketball today, Hurley comes from legendary hoops family – following in the footsteps of his brother Bobby who took the family to the Final Four in 1990 as a player at Duke and his Dad Bob Sr., who is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In sought-after events, Hurley reveals the secrets to maximizing personnel, creating a team environment for success, unifying an organization around a shared vision, and motivating team members to achieve their best.
Since taking over as the head coach of the UConn men’s basketball program in March, 2018, Dan Hurley has made an immediate impact, most recently, leading UConn to its fifth national title in a dominating fashion over San Diego State, 76-59.
Back to a semblance of normalcy following the uncertain Covid-plagued season of 2020-21, Hurley coached the 2021-22 Huskies to 23 overall wins (23-10), the third different program he has resurrected from a sub-.500 record to a 20-win season in four years or less. It was the most overall wins for a UConn team in six years and the most conference wins (13) for UConn in eight seasons.
Not only has UConn’s winning percentage improved in each year under Hurley, but last season, the Huskies had five road wins, three wins against Top 25 opponents, four neutral-site victories and were ranked in the national Top 25 poll for 15 weeks. Hurley again took his team to the NCAA Tournament, marking UConn’s first back-to-back appearances in the Big Dance in 10 years. The season included a second consecutive top three finish in the BIG EAST Conference, a second straight trip to the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals, three separate five-game winning streaks and the 10 losses were by an average margin of just 4.7 points.
Two of the Huskies were selected as First Team All-BIG EAST, upping Hurley’s total at UConn to six all-conference picks, three all-freshman team selections, two all-conference tournament picks, as well as individual awards for defensive player of the year, sixth man of the year, and most improved player of the year.
In 12 seasons as a head coach, Hurley has posted a 224-152 overall record (.596), 73-47 at UConn (.608). Take away the records from his first season at each new school, during which he was essentially tasked with stopping the bleeding of a broken program, and that overall winning percentage jumps to an impressive .658.
A steady influx of highly-rated recruiting classes has been the backbone of UConn’s yearly rise under Hurley and his coaching staff.
Despite the most uncertain of seasons in 2020-21 that included stops and starts, shutdowns and restarts, cancellations, postponements and rescheduling, the program continued to move forward.
The Huskies had three lengthy shutdowns and 10 games either cancelled or postponed, but still they finished third in their first season back in the BIG EAST, cracked the Top 25, reach the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals and, perhaps most importantly, earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years.
In 2019-20, the Huskies posted the program’s first winning season (19-12), the most overall victories, and the most conference wins in four years and, when the season was abruptly stopped by the coronavirus pandemic, UConn was on a five-game winning streak to close the regular season and had major momentum heading into the American Athletic Conference Championship. With seven losses by four points or less – including four in overtime, two of them in double overtime – the Huskies’ record could easily have been even more impressive.
Hurley became the 19th head coach in the history of UConn basketball on March 22, 2018, when he accepted the challenge of resurrecting a program that had suffered two consecutive losing seasons. It didn’t take long for him to put his stamp on the program. Three games into his first season as the head coach of the Huskies in 2018-19, the team had three victories, including its first win over a nationally-ranked opponent in three years.
As the architect of two previous college basketball rebuilding projects, however, Hurley was well-aware that the challenge of returning the four-time NCAA champion Huskies to national prominence wasn’t going to be that easy. As with his two other program turnarounds, there clearly were going to be struggles and growing pains, and UConn’s final 16-17 record, while disappointing, was not all that surprising.
Although he was a national recruit coming out of St. Anthony High School and he put together an impressive college playing career at Seton Hall, it is as a coach that Hurley has made the basketball world take notice, as a program-builder and a positive guiding force for young men. While still a youthful coach in college basketball terms, Hurley has already taken charge of four struggling hoop programs – St. Benedict’s Prep, Wagner College, the University of Rhode Island, and UConn -- and built them into competitors on the national stage.
Hurley is a product of one of the most well-known basketball families in the country, led by his father, Bob Sr., a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee following a legendary high school coaching career at powerhouse St. Anthony in Jersey City (N.J.) and including older brother Bobby, a college All-American and two-time National Champion player at Duke, who played for five years in the NBA, and is currently the head coach at Arizona State.
While following in those giant sneaker prints has understandably never been an easy task, Dan Hurley has always embraced the challenge and built himself an extremely impressive basketball resume in the process.
Hurley came to UConn following six years at Rhode Island, where he took a program that went 7-23 in the season before he arrived to a combined 51-18 mark and two NCAA Tournament appearances in his final two years, URI’s first NCAA appearances in 18 years. In each year, Hurley guided the Rams to a first-round NCAA tourney victory.
In 2017-18, Hurley’s URI team posted a 26-8 record, the most wins by a Rams team in eight years, which included a 16-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history. Rhode Island swept to the Atlantic 10 regular-season title with a 15-3 mark, and spent seven weeks ranked in the national polls, rising as high as No. 14 in the USA Today Coaches poll. Earning a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, URI defeated Oklahoma in the first round before bowing to second-seeded Duke. Hurley was named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, earned his second USBWA District I Coach of the Year Award and sent two of his players to NBA teams, Jared Terrell to the Timberwolves and E.C. Matthews to the Grizzlies.
The previous season, Hurley took Rhode Island to a 25-10 record, earning an automatic NCAA tourney bid by capturing the Atlantic 10 Championship. The 11th-seeded Rams upset sixth-seeded Creighton in the NCAA first round before suffering a three-point loss to No. 3 seed Oregon.
Despite a rash of injuries that decimated his 2015-16 team, Hurley still managed to post a winning 17-15 record and place his team among the national leaders in scoring defense, allowing just 64.8 points per game. That followed a banner 23-10 season in 2014-15, during which URI led the nation in three-point percentage defense (.265) and ranked ninth in overall defensive efficiency. That team put Rhody back in the national picture, earning an NIT berth and reaching the second round before losing to eventual NIT champion Stanford, bringing Hurley his first USBWA District I Coach of the Year Award.
In his six seasons in Rhode Island, Hurley’s teams were a combined 113-82 (.579), but an even more impressive 91-43 (.679) with two NCAA appearances and an NIT berth during his last four years.
Previous to his tenure in Kingston, Hurley spent two years at his first Division I head coaching job at Wagner College in the Northeast Conference. Taking over a program that had just five wins in 2009-10, Hurley immediately upped the win total to 13 in his first season of 2010-11 and nearly doubled that total to a 25-6 mark in 2011-12. His overall record in the Northeast Conference was 24-12.
Wagner was not Hurley’s first college basketball coaching experience. After graduating from Seton Hall in 1996 and spending a season as an assistant coach under his father at St. Anthony, he was hired as an assistant coach at Rutgers and remained there for four years. When Rutgers decided to change coaching staffs, Hurley opted to go back to the high school level and took over the basketball program at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., in 2001.
It was at St. Benedict’s, where he also taught history, that Hurley maintains he really learned his craft, building the program into a national prep school powerhouse. In nine seasons, Hurley compiled a sterling 223-21 record, with four Top Five finishes in the national rankings. He coached four McDonald’s All-Americans as well as future NBA players J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Lance Thomas.
Following the 2009-10 season, Hurley was more than prepared to advance to the college level and accepted the job at Wagner.
Born (1/16/73) and raised in in Jersey City, Hurley was an outstanding high school player at St. Anthony, leading the team to a 31-1 record and a No. 2 national ranking as a senior. At Seton Hall, he played under head coaches P.J. Carlesimo and George Blaney, amassing career totals of 1,070 points and 437 assists and helping the Pirates to three NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT berth during his career. Following his graduation in 1996, Hurley went directly into coaching, joining his father at St. Anthony for one year before heading into the college ranks at Rutgers.
Dan and wife Andrea, who met while both were attending Seton Hall, are the parents of two sons, Danny, also a Seton Hall graduate, and Andrew, a junior at UConn.