UConn’s Dan Hurley savoring what could be last game coaching his son Andrew in national championship

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Andrew Hurley caught the ball with space behind the 3-point line, 6.4 seconds left in UConn’s Final Four game against Alabama on Saturday. For the last 10 NCAA Tournament games, the coaches’ son was the one to dribble out the clock. It had become one on a long list of his dad’s superstitions.

He held the ball, pivoted around, and was fouled by Alabama’s Mark Sears with 0.3 seconds left until the reigning champs officially punched their ticket back to the national championship game.

“The guy fouled the (expletive) out of him,” Dan Hurley said as he accepted the Naismith Coach of the Year award the next morning. “So then we had to take it out and the guy kind of ruined it for us.”

Greek sophomore Apostolos Roumoglou was the inbounder and tossed the ball to freshman Jayden Ross. Andrew called for it urgently but as soon as the ball hit Ross’ hands the buzzer sounded.

“It was Sears that did that. But I don’t remember that play…” Dan Hurley said.

The last two years coaching his son have been unforgettable.

Hurley was emotional on several occasions surrounding the Huskies’ Senior Day ceremony, thinking of how this season could be his last with his son, Andrew, waiting at the end of the bench until he subs in as the Huskies’ human victory cigar. Last year, as UConn raced through the NCAA Tournament, Andrew was the one to dribble out the clock and toss the ball into the air as the confetti dropped.

Now, as a senior, Monday’s national championship game could be his last wearing the UConn jersey.

“He humanizes me a little bit,” Dan Hurley said Sunday as he prepared for the much-anticipated matchup against two-time Player of the Year Zach Edey and No. 1 Purdue. “I don’t know what he does in the locker room when I’m on like a heater and I’m being a complete brutal ass to everybody. I don’t know if he goes in the locker room and endears himself to these guys by crushing me and saying, ‘Yeah, he’s the worst,’ or if he goes in there and says, ‘Hey guys, he loves you, he just cares.’ I don’t really know what’s going on back there. I don’t know if these guys will tell me either before it’s over.”

Andrew has been a connector between his fiery coach of a dad and his teammates, who have all embraced his presence.

“The last couple years have been nothing short of magical,” Andrew told reporters in the locker room after the buzzer sounded on UConn’s 11th consecutive tournament win. “Just the way the program’s turned in the past two years. That’s something you can’t even wish for just to be where we are now. Just having family around, even seeing everybody in the crowd and stuff like that, it’s just something that you’d never be able to trade for anything, it’s priceless.”

According to his father, Andrew could’ve gone to play elsewhere after his high school career wrapped up at East Catholic. Dan says Andrew is more athletic than he was at that age, Andrew can dunk, and if he’d put the time into coaching his son like his own father, Hall of Famer Bob Sr., did for him, he could’ve gone to play at the Division II or III level, maybe even low-Division I.

But he decided to play for his dad, to join him on the journey of turning UConn around. The pair has gone to the NCAA Tournament every year they’ve been together, taking the Huskies from four years without a bid to a pair of dominant seasons that established their position atop the sport.

It took some time for Andrew to figure out his perfect supporting role once he got to campus.

“I started off just doing anything I could, practicing hard or just kind of earning some sort of respect just to be able to be a voice. It just kind of worked out. I think we both had an idea of what it was gonna be, what my role was going to be and kind of what was expected of me. I think I knew the rules coming in but then I definitely learned as I went,” he said before that emotional Senior Day.

The experience has been especially rewarding for Dan who, like all coaches, had to sacrifice time with his kids and his family while he climbed the ranks.

“Oftentimes your wife and your kids suffer with that time lost. So to be able to get that time back and be together 11 months a year, see each other every day, multiple times a day. The highs and lows of everything we go through,” he said. “It made up for a lot of time we lost.”