UConn’s Dan Hurley, Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley reunited at Battle 4 Atlantis in Bahamas

Photo of Mike Anthony

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — UConn coach Dan Hurley was walking through the casino at Atlantis Paradise Island Tuesday morning when he crossed paths with Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley.

“Good to see big brother,” Dan said.

This is a different week for all involved at the Battle 4 Atlantis, a basketball tournament in a convention center at the heart of a resort featuring daredevil waterslides, white sand beaches and pools of sharks ready for the next feeding frenzy.

For Dan Hurley, 48, and Bobby Hurley, 50, it’s also a family reunion — a potentially uncomfortable one, certainly one both will try to appreciate even while remaining primarily focused on running their programs and preparing their teams.

“I just think a lot of times as you get older, you give yourself maybe a couple minutes a day where you do appreciate our journey, and how this all began for us,” UConn’s Hurley said. “Little kids growing up in Jersey City and playing basketball in the park. We have these playing careers that played out differently. Then just our journey through basketball, from when our careers ended. We both end up here at big-time programs and having a lot of success. Sometimes your mind does drift to, it’s been a hell of a journey.”

Dan Hurley said he’d try to make time to get together with Bobby Hurley every day, at least briefly.

They would prefer that one of those get togethers is not with them on opposite benches, coaching against one another. It could happen on Friday, the final day of the event, either in the championship game or consolation play.

“With an event like this, to be invited is pretty special, and to participate in it,” Bobby Hurley said. “It was a little awkward to know UConn would be here. We agreed to do it. But I think some contingencies were put into place for both of us to be here and being on opposite sides of the bracket was probably something that we negotiated.”

The Hurleys, sons of a legendary New Jersey high school coach, are two of the most unique men in college basketball, tightly wrapped sideline tornados who are too emotionally involved in what they do to ever want to face one another.

They have done so just once — as players — but never as coaches. Bobby’s Duke team defeated Dan’s Seton Hall team 81-69 in the Sweet 16 in the 1992 NCAA Tournament at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Two days later, in the regional final, Christian Laettner took a pass from Grant Hill and hit his famous buzzer-beater against Kentucky, sending Duke to the Final Four.

“If I had played better,” Dan Hurley said, “maybe there’s not that shot.”

The Blue Devils won the national championship and Bobby Hurley was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Bobby Hurley was an assistant under Dan Hurley at Wagner in 2010-12 and at Rhode Island in 2012-13 before being named head coach at Buffalo in 2013-15. He has been coach at Arizona State since 2015. Dan Hurley left URI and was named coach at UConn in 2018.

Each coach has a son on his team and, therefore, a nephew on the other's. Bobby Hurley is a 6-foot freshman guard for Arizona State. Andrew Hurley is a 6-1 sophomore guard at UConn.

One possibility for a Hurley-Hurley matchup is a UConn-Arizona State championship game on Friday.

“It would take a ton of work to get to that point,” Dan Hurley said. “I think we would both be really happy to meet in the championship game. That means that we both have had an unbelievable run in this tournament, with the quality we’d have to beat to get there. We would love that, if that were to happen. But once we got to that point it would turn to — it would be tough for us, because of the way we are wired and the way we were wired.”

The Hurleys text and speak often and will continue to this week. Their ability to actually get together — say, lunch or dinner or some type of shared Thanksgiving — will depend on their team’s schedules and plans. UConn opens Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. against Auburn. Arizona State plays Baylor Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

“There’s probably going to be a time where we’ll sit down, catch up for a little bit,” Dan Hurley said. “There will be a time each day where we’re able to do it. Probably the best part is that we’re completely not even thinking about each other’s team, which is good, because we’re completely on the other side of the bracket. We’re so locked in on Auburn, on your own team it’s hard to have time.”

Bobby Hurley watches a lot of UConn basketball. Dan Hurley watches a lot of Arizona State basketball.

“We’re digging in to make sure our teams are ready, and both trying to win a championship,” Bobby Hurley said. “I know that’s how we’re wired, that’s how we’re built. But the times that we can interact and see each other throughout this week is going to be positive. I’m hoping to carve out the time to root for his team and watch his team play. They’re like the only other team that I watch as much as possible in college basketball, UConn. They’re like my second team.

“I’m seeing some of their players walk though. Like, I saw R.J. Cole and I was like, wow, I’ve watched him as much as guys that I coach because of how I follow their program. We’re really tight. We’re brothers. We love each other. So we’re rooting for each other and supporting each other.”

mike.anthony@hearstmediact.com; @ManthonyHearst