Bobby Hurley: NCAAs should be holiday

March, 21, 2013
3/21/13
9:00
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Bobby Hurley, who played in three NCAA championship games and won two national titles at Duke, thinks the first two days of the NCAA basketball tournament should be a holiday.

"I'm picking up my son early from school and we're going to sit there and watch the games," Hurley said. "I've always felt the first two days are the most exciting. Everyone is in it and everyone still has a chance. You need to be at home flipping through the channels."

Hurley, now the associate head basketball coach at Rhode Island, stopped by ESPN's offices Wednesday to promote a Pizza Hut program.

Playbook had a few minutes with Hurley to talk about the tournament, coaching and his bracket.

So you're going to pick up your son. How big of a basketball fan is he?

"He's been brainwashed like me at a very early age. He genuinely loves basketball. I bring him to game days at Rhode Island and he spends the day with me. I don't know where the basketball will take him. But he's enjoying it now."

Do you put together a bracket?

"We do a bracket in our house. It's fairly competitive. I can be a sore loser because I go in thinking I have a big advantage because I know more. Historically, it hasn't always come my way. Last year, my daughter, who is 17 and doesn't watch basketball, won. My wife has won a few times. It's a little embarrassing. I try to outsmart myself. I think about the 12th seed or 11th seed winning a game in an upset. That's when I get into trouble."

Looking back at your playing days, do you have any regrets?

"I wish I would have played better in that first Final Four [against UNLV in 1990]. I'll never let that one go. But we won the next two championships and I got to redeem myself. Most people never get that opportunity. I can't really ask for a better college career."

Today's game is so different because many players don't stay four years. What do you think about that?

"I don't have a problem if they have an opportunity to better themselves and their family by being a lottery pick or a top pick. I just wish they would get better advice for that next level. They are sacrificing a chance of a lifetime in college and getting closer to a degree. I know excelling at the next level works out in a lot of instances, but sometimes it doesn't."

You've worked with your younger brother, Dan, at Wagner and now Rhode Island. I assume you eventually want to be a head coach?

"Dan gave me a great opportunity at Wagner, and it's been a special three years working with him. We have the same beliefs. I have learned a lot about being a head coach and running a program. I'm excited about what we're building at Rhode Island. Eventually, when the time is right, the opportunity will come along."

Do you feel like a father figure to the players?

"I'm trying to get the most out of them. I'm trying to build their confidence. I'm like a mentor but I feel young enough to hang around them as one of the guys -- oh, except for the gray hair. I still have a young-looking face but my hair doesn't match. It must be bad genes."

When did you start feeling old?

"I think it was when I first started recruiting players. They let me know they weren't born when I was playing college basketball. That hurt. I had to direct them to YouTube to watch old highlights of me to get an idea of what I was talking about."

You have Duke and Florida playing in the final. Think this is your year to win the Hurley home bracket?


"We all do the brackets and put them on the wall. As things start, we put up Ws and Ls. I've won about a third of the time. It all depends on how Duke does. The winner usually gets to pick where we eat dinner. It's going to be a great time."

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