As a ballhandler and a defender attacked each other between rows of orange cones, twisting and turning at video game speed, Danny Hurley shouted above the squeaking sounds of their high-tops. On a hill in Staten Island, the basketball coach was filling the dimly lit gym with the clichéd commands of his craft.
Move your feet. ... Keep him in front of you. ... Beat him to the spot.
One Wagner College player committed the not-so-venial sin of fumbling the ball in a rebounding drill, and Hurley barked, "You're fighting for your life." He kept wincing as he dug his hands into the gray stubble of his scalp, looking and sounding like any one of a thousand overcaffeinated lifers who confuse practice with a military exercise in the heat of a cold war.
Only Hurley isn't just another 39-year-old face in that crowd. He's the son of Bob Sr., living legend at St. Anthony in Jersey City, N.J., one of three high school coaches inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Of greater consequence, Danny's the kid brother of Bobby, former lottery pick of the Sacramento Kings, two-time national champion at Duke, maybe the best pure point guard college basketball has ever seen.
Bobby was observing these drills in relative silence, assuming the subservient role of right-hand man. Suddenly the little brother has emerged as the family star, the Eli of the Hurleys, and the big brother has taken Peyton's place in the background.
Now 22-4 at Wagner two years after rescuing Mike Deane's 5-26 team, Danny is responsible for the most improbable New York basketball story this side of Jeremy Lin. Bobby is a first-time assistant learning the Northeast Conference trade from a figure inspiring enough to lead the Seahawks to a road victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers, then the 15th-ranked owners of a 70-0 record against Wagner's league.
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