UConn's Dan Hurley to get red carpet treatment from brother Bobby

Apr. 3—Bobby Hurley plans to roll out the red carpet for his brother Dan's UConn basketball team this weekend in Arizona.

State Farm Stadium, the host site of the Final Four in Glendale, is located roughly 20 miles from Arizona State, where Bobby coaches.

Meanwhile, the rest of Final Four field that includes Purdue, North Carolina State and Alabama will be trying to pull the carpet out from under UConn.

The top-seeded Huskies will be attempting to become the first team since Florida in 2007 to repeat as national champions, something that Bobby Hurley also did as an All-American point guard for Duke in 1992.

Pressure will be on UConn, the favorite to win it all, and coach Dan Hurley.

"Dan really has tunnel vision," Bobby said on Wednesday. "There's going to be a lot of people pulling at him. There's going to be media and a lot of hoopla surrounding this event. But I think he stays in the moment and focuses on what's important, and that's getting his team ready to play this weekend.

"Once that game starts, he's going to be ready to go. That's what I know about him. He's amazing about his preparation and getting his team ready. I talked to him yesterday and hopefully I will be able to connect with him and see him.

"We're the host school, so he's got free rein to use any of the facilities here. Red carpet treatment here at Arizona State for my brother."

The Huskies haven't played like they're feeling any pressure.

They've rolled through the NCAA tournament, winning four games by an average of 27.8 points to set up a national semifinal meeting with Alabama Saturday (8:49 p.m.) at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. They've won a record 10 straight tournament games by double digits dating back to last season.

Bobby Hurley sees some similarities between Duke's elite postseason performance and what UConn has done so far.

"Once the postseason tournament hits, you can take it to a different level," Bobby said. "I think that's what we were able to do in my back-to-back year. We knew what was right in front of us. It was our goal when we started our season. ... When you can taste how close it is, you step it up and take it to a different level.

"And I think that's what I've seen in the majority of games that I've watched with UConn in this NCAA tournament. ... With both of my championships, there were games that we could have lost in each of those tournaments and we were able to (win), whether it was (Christian) Laettner hitting a game-winning shot or making some clutch plays down the stretch to beat UNLV in the Final Four. There always was a really close game that we had to win.

"And UConn has been so dominant that they haven't even had that in two years. It's been scary how good they've been. I hope that Dan can keep it up here through the next couple of days."

While Duke returned the heart of its 1991 national championship team for the repeat run, UConn's roster underwent significant changes from last season. Starters Andre Jackson, Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo moved on to the professional ranks and key reserves Nahiem Alleyne and Joey Calcaterra departed.

Dan Hurley added a top five recruiting class that included highly-regarded freshman Stephon Castle and graduate transfer Cam Spencer to his championship core.

The Huskies never missed a beat. They dominated their competition on the way to a program-record 35 wins and a spot in the Final Four. They've lost just one game since Dec. 20.

Bobby gave his brother an A+ in roster construction.

"To lose the players that he lost to the draft and then to be able to go into the (transfer) portal and through high school players and rebuild that team so quickly and put them in a position where they are now, I think it's a testament to his abilities as a coach, the commitment and the standards that UConn basketball has," Bobby said.

"It's been special. To see what they did against Illinois (in the Elite Eight) in that (30-0) stretch, I'm not sure I've seen something like that happen in a game of that magnitude, except maybe, to me, my freshman year at Duke when we got pummeled by UNLV. But I don't really want to talk too much about that."

After losing by 30 to UNLV in the 1990 title game, Duke rebounded to win two straight national championships, beating Michigan, 71-51, in 1992 to repeat.

Former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke about Dan Hurley's approach to the season Tuesday on his SiriusXM show, Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.

"What Danny's done, I think he made an amazing decision in how he was gonna handle winning," Krzyzewski said. "He basically put winning in his rearview mirror and said, 'We've done that. We're not defending that. We're going after another national title.' And they were not gonna be hunted. They were the hunters. They have continued to be the hunters and, man, they've really hunted.

"There's a belief in their program and a work ethic that is second to none. And so they are deserving of it."

It's a safe bet that Bobby will be rooting for UConn to match Duke's accomplishment this weekend, but he has a few other rooting interests at the Final Four.

North Carolina State guard DJ Horne played for him at Arizona State for two seasons before transferring. Alabama head coach Nate Oats served as an assistant on Bobby's staff at Buffalo from 2013-15.

The Hurley brothers, who coached together at Wagner and Rhode Island, are good friends with Oats.

There's certainly a lot of subplots for me and with the Final Four being here in Phoenix," Bobby said. "It even adds more to it. The reality is, I'm grateful and thankful for having the opportunity to coach with my brother for three years, to coach with Nate Oats for two years, to have had DJ Horne in my life for two years and what he did for me at Arizona State, helping us get to an NCAA tournament. ...

"I'm just happy for everybody that they're in this moment and they have a chance to be on this stage. They're all people I care deeply about."