Unbridled passion. Proven experience. Unwavering commitment. Lofty expectations.
Those four elements are among the most vital to changing a culture and Dan Hurley has brought them to fruition each and every day he coaches at the University of Rhode Island.
In his fifth season as head coach, Hurley’s plan to completely overhaul the Rhode Island men’s basketball program came to fruition as Rhode Island won the second Atlantic 10 championship in program history. Hurley led the Rams to an upset of Creighton in the first round, then pushed eventual Final Four participant Oregon to the limit in the Round of 32. Senior Hassan Martin was the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, while junior E.C. Matthews earned third-team all-conference honors and was the A-10 Championship’s Most Outstanding Player. Freshman Jeff Dowtin became the fourth player in Hurley’s first five years to garner A-10 All-Rookie honors. The Rams won 25 games for just the fourth time in program history.
After a 23-win season and a return to the postseason in 2014-15, Hurley was named the United States Basketball Writers Association District I Coach of the Year. In April, 2015, Hurley and the University agreed to restructure his contract, reflecting the University’s continued investment in the program and its commitment to future growth and success. The extension of the current pact runs through the 2021-22 season.
A cornerstone of Hurley’s success as a head coach is his commitment to individual improvement and development on and off the court. Since taking over as URI’s 19th head coach on March 21, 2012, Hurley has not missed a single team practice or workout. He places an extremely high value on each and every minute of practice time.
The 2015-16 campaign began with high expectations, but a series of injuries derailed the season. Rhody starters missed close to 35% of the season, beginning with the season-ending knee injury to preseason First Team All-A-10 E.C. Matthews midway through the first half of the season opener versus American. The injury bug also bit Hassan Martin - the A-10’s Defensive Player of the Year . Starters Kuran Iverson and Jarvis Garrett all missed time due to significant injury.
Despite the setbacks, the 2015-16 Rams exhibited the trademark toughness of a Hurley-coached team. For the second straight season, Rhode Island led the Atlantic 10 and ranked among the national leaders in scoring defense, allowing just 64.8 points per game.
Hurley’s success has been bolstered by some of the highest-rated recruiting classes in program history. According to 247Sports.com, Rhode Island had the top crop of newcomers in the A-10 in 2013-14, led by A-10 Co-Rookie of the Year and Freshman All-American E.C. Matthews and All-Rookie team selection Hassan Martin. Rhode Island posted the league’s second-best recruiting classes in 2012-13 and 2014-15. In 2014-15, Jared Terrell was an A-10 All-Rookie selection.
The 2014-15 Rams spent much of year battling for their first-ever Atlantic 10 Regular Season Championship. Rhody held a share of first-place into the month of March - the latest a URI team had held at least a share of first place. Rhody finished in a tie for second place, advancing to the conference championship semifinals. The Rams were a #3 seed in the 2015 National Invitation Tournament, downing Iona in the opening round before falling at eventual NIT champion Stanford.
One of the calling cards for the 2014-15 Rams was their relentless effort on the defensive end of the floor. Rhode Island finished the season as the National Statistical Leader in 3-point Field Goal Percentage Defense, holding opponents to just 26.5% shooting from the perimeter. According to Ken Pomeroy’s statistical analysis website KenPom.com, URI ranked ninth nationally in defensive efficiency, yielding 91.2 points per 100 possessions, while also ranking 10th in effective defensive field goal percentage (43.9%).
Rhode Island was one of just three teams in 2014-15 to have at least a +9 overall win improvement and a +8 in conference wins. Over the past two seasons, Hurley has guided Rhode Island to a +15 win differential - one of the five best turnarounds in college basketball.
Hurley’s second year featured high-scoring guard Xavier Munford - who reached the 1,000 career point mark in just 51 games - and one of the youngest lineups in the country. URI fought to a 14-18 record, despite first-year players accounting for 35% of the team’s scoring and 40% of the team’s minutes.
The 2012-13 season was Hurley’s first season at Rhode Island and despite the team’s record (8-21), the blueprint for success and the culture change was evident in every facet of the program - on and off the court. The Rams earned their first victory under Hurley in a double-overtime thriller at Auburn and also posted an OT win at Saint Louis in A-10 play. Fourteen of URI’s losses were single-digit affairs, including seven by five points or less.
Hurley arrived in Rhode Island after a successful two-year stint as head coach of Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. While at Wagner, Hurley orchestrated a turnaround of the Seahawks program. Inheriting a program that had won just five games in 2009-10, he guided Wagner to 13 victories in his first season. The eight-win improvement was the nation’s best among first-year head coaches in 2010-11.
The Seahawks set several program records in 2011-12: wins (25); best overall start (14-3); best start in NEC play (14-2). The second-fastest coach in Wagner history to reach 30 wins, Hurley’s team ranked among the national leaders in true road wins and road winning percentage.
On Dec. 23, 2011, Hurley guided Wagner to a 59-54 victory at then #15 Pittsburgh. It was the first-ever victory over Pittsburgh by a NEC team, which had lost its last 70 matchups against the Panthers. It was also Wagner’s first victory over a ranked opponent in over 33 years. In his two full seasons at the Staten Island school, Hurley compiled a 38-23 overall record and a 24-12 mark in Northeast Conference games.
Prior to becoming an NCAA Division I head coach, Hurley was a highly successful head coach at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J. During his nine-year tenure at St. Benedict’s (2001-2010), he compiled a 223-21 record, developed four McDonald’s All-Americans, and coached the Grey Bees to four top five finishes in the national rankings.
Hurley is a 1996 graduate of Seton Hall, where he was a standout guard for head coaches P.J. Carlesimo and George Blaney. He scored 1,070 career points while leading the Pirates to four straight postseason appearances (three NCAA, one NIT).
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Hurley grew up in one of America’s most well-known basketball families. His father, Bob, Sr., is the highly successful head coach at St. Anthony H.S. During the summer of 2010, he became just the second high school coach inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Hurley teamed with his older brother Bobby on the 1989 St. Anthony team that captured the National Championship. The All-American guard at Duke and an NBA lottery pick of the Sacramento Kings in 1993 served as an assistant under Dan Hurley as both Wagner and Rhode Island before being named head coach of the University of Buffalo in March, 2013.
He began his coaching profession as an assistant to his father at St. Anthony during the 1996-97 season before serving a four-year stint on the Rutgers coaching staff from 1997-2001.
Hurley and his wife Andrea are the proud parents of two sons; Danny and Andrew.