Commentary

High school hoops doc gets update

'The Street Stops Here' documents a season at New Jersey's legendary St. Anthony

Updated: February 17, 2012, 8:22 PM ET
By Brandon Parker | ESPNHS.com

On March 12, 2010, Kyle Anderson wouldn't have been caught dead in a St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) uniform. Anderson and his teammates were stunned in a defeat against the Friars in the Non-Public North B championship, dashing the perfect season and title hopes for Paterson Catholic.

Those feelings could have been rehashed several days later when a documentary chronicling legendary coach Bob Hurley Sr. and the St. Anthony program aired on national television. Thing is, the more Anderson watched, the more impressed he became.

"I remember watching it as a sophomore and just being amazed," Anderson said. "There was such a great tradition there."

As fate would have it, Anderson would soon become a part of that tradition. When financial issues forced Paterson Catholic to close its doors that same year, he couldn't help but recall the film. It quickly became clear that his former rival was meant to be his future school.

"The documentary pretty much sealed it," said Anderson, now a senior McDonald's All-American for the Friars. "I just said, 'Wow, that's such a great program.' It was a no-brainer."

Now, the documentary that chronicled the 2007-08 St. Anthony squad will return to the spotlight this weekend. An updated version of "The Street Stops Here" along with a post-film roundtable with the Hall of Fame coach, will air at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPNU.

It'd be easy to spend two hours talking about Hurley's many accomplishments. There are the 1,000-plus wins, the record 26 state titles and the famous alumni, including Bobby Hurley Jr., Terry Dehere and Roshown McLeod. Plus, the Friars are riding a 55-game win streak and are No. 3 in the POWERADE FAB 50, positioning them for a second straight national title.

But instead, the film centers on what Hurley is most proud of in his 39 years of coaching -- sending all but two of his players to college, with more than 100 enrolling at Division I basketball programs.

"The authenticity of the documentary comes from the access given to the kids. You see them struggle through practice and what they deal with off the court," Hurley said. "Every time I see it, I go through the same feelings of watching the kids play and thinking about how enjoyable it was."

"I wish I wasn't yelling or screaming all the time, though," Hurley added with a laugh.

It's this tough love that has helped produce such impressive results for Hurley on and off the court. As a former probation officer and coach of many kids who were raised on the tough streets of New Jersey, Hurley knows the importance of discipline and work ethic.

"Coach is tough, but that's why everybody plays so hard for him," Anderson said. "Some say he yells a lot, but it's all because he cares. The day he stops yelling at you, that's when you need to be concerned."

This theme, along with a slight sense of urgency, emanates throughout "The Street Stops Here." Despite possessing seven Division I-bound seniors -- Madut Bol, Jio Fontan, Mike Rosario, Tyshawn Taylor, AJ Rogers, Alberto Estwick and Travon Woodall -- the 2007-08 squad was in danger of becoming Hurley's first class to graduate without a state crown. What's more, a financial crisis threatened to shut down St. Anthony.

Much to Hurley's satisfaction, this unscripted drama ended up reinforcing the message he constantly imparts upon his players. Without discipline and goals, success in sports can be hard to come by. Without academics, everything done on the court ultimately won't matter.

"The emphasis is always on academics," Hurley said. "We try to teach them to value their education because that will be the basis of how happy their adult lives will be."

After watching the film last month, Hurley smiled in retrospect at the fruits of that season on the brink. But even bigger than the championships and accolades, Hurley gets the greatest joy from turning basketball players into young men ready to face life's challenges.

"I hope people see that we really care about these kids and tough love is necessary," Hurley says. "I'd love to be everybody's grandfather and walk with my arm around them, but life's not like that. You have to have goals and a work ethic so that you're ready to deal with adversity."

Brandon Parker covers high school sports for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.