Busting Brackets

“We run college basketball” Dan Hurley as confident as ever after back-to-back national titles

Dan Hurley cemented himself as one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time on Monday night with his second national title, beating Purdue 75-60.
Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley
Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

On January 18, 2020, amidst the second year of his tenure at UConn, Dan Hurley warned the rest of the country about what was about to come next. 

That season, UConn finished 19-12 and would have missed the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year had it not been canceled because of the pandemic. What followed was a move back to the Big East, where the Huskies always belonged, four straight tournament appearances, and now back-to-back national championships. 

After Monday night’s 75-60 win over Purdue, Dan Hurley’s Huskies have won 12 straight tournament games by at least 13 points, this season utterly dominating the rest of the field with a +140 point differential after entering as the No. 1 overall seed. 

The UConn dominance isn’t just limited to these past two postseasons. The Connecticut Huskies have now won six national championships, one more than Duke, the same amount as North Carolina, two less than Kentucky, and five less than UCLA. That’s the company that UConn keeps except within the last 25 years, no program is on its level. 

All of UConn’s six national titles have come since 1999. Danny Hurley is well aware of that recent history, first ushered in by Jim Calhoun and continued by Kevin Ollie and himself. He was quick to remind the college basketball world of that fact. 

“For the last 30 years, UConn has been running college basketball,” Hurley told Tracy Wolfson on the court postgame. “We run college basketball,” he reiterated. 

At the height of his dominance, when most coaches would say that they’re coming back for more, Hurley took a different tone with Wolfson, “Me and Luke Murray (Hurley’s assistant and son of actor Bill Murray), had some talk about if we won, this one maybe we’ll both retire on Tuesday, so this is going to be it for me.” 

Of course, he clarified that he was only kidding. Hurley has climbed to the mountaintop and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon. A maniacal worker, he’ll almost certainly start his title defense soon, but his obsession with the day-to-day doesn’t cloud his view of college basketball history and his place in it. 

UConn is the first team to go back-to-back since Florida in 2006 and 2007, but he’s not even the first in his family to accomplish the feat. In 1991 and 1992, Bobby Hurley, along with some help from Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, led Duke to consecutive titles. He was cautious about restarting any family feuds in the postage press conference, but his team is undeniable. 

“ I think it's up there in terms of the greatest two-year runs that a program maybe has ever had just because -- I can't say anything about Duke because I'm going to piss my brother off. But I guess I can say stuff about Florida. But I love Billy Donovan. So I'm in a bad spot,” He said with a smile. 

“I just think it's the best two-year run I think in a very, very long time just because of everything we lost from last year's team. To lose that much and, again, to do what we did again, it's got to be as impressive a two-year run as a program's had since prior to whoever did it before Duke. To me, it is more impressive than what Florida and Duke did because they brought back their entire teams. We lost some major players.”

While he’s willing to stoke the fire of his legendarily fiery older brother, in his on eyes, Dan, who joined Henry Iba, Adolph Rupp, Phil Woolpert, Ed Jucker, John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, and Billy Donovan as the only head coaches to win consecutive NCAA title, still doesn’t measure up to his first coach. 

“It's like my dad, he looks at me, he looks at my brother, he sees us coaching in college, what it would have looked like for him if he was doing it. So I know it means a lot to me and Bob again. We're the version of my father that would be coaching in college. Even after back-to-back for me, I'm still just a worse version of him. A little bit worse. I'm getting better, and I'm coming for him.”

Hurley will undoubtedly reload to take a shot at another championship next season, and maybe then, as he further cements himself amongst the greatest college basketball coaches of all time, he’ll finally become the best coach in the family.

Zach Edey asked to do too much in loss to UConn. Zach Edey asked to do too much in loss to UConn. dark. Next