Dan Hurley is young, comes from a great basketball family and is coming off a 25-win season in which Rhode Island beat Creighton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and almost beat Oregon in the Round of 32. Needless to say, he is officially on the coaching radar of numerous Power 5 schools.
Hurley, though, insists he is solely focused on Rhode Island and advancing further in the tournament next season.
“The only athletic directors or school presidents that I’ve spoken to since the season’s been over have been my own about how to take this thing to the next level,” the 44-year-old Hurley said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think we all got a taste of what it felt like to cut down some nets and to be a part of March. When you get a taste of that, you don’t want to take steps back. Right now, we return eight of our first 10. We return five guards that scored 21 or more points in a game this year. So we’re returning a team that’s going to have high expectations again. My only interest right now is turning Rhode Island into a real nationally relevant player in March.”
Hurley said the Rams’ run – and the added spotlight – were “a reflection of the type of players we’ve been able to bring in.” Still, Hurley is frustrated that his team almost defeated – and probably should have defeated – Oregon, which beat Michigan and Kansas to reach its first Final Four since 1939.
“We were up double figures in that second half, a majority of the second half, and the lead just kind of whittled down,” Hurley said of the 75-72 second-round loss. “(We were) up four with two minutes to go, and they scored the last seven points. There were so many opportunities. Missed two-on-one fast breaks that we didn’t convert, free-throw rebounds we didn’t secure – we were so close to advancing that you can’t help but be a little frustrated.”
Hurley wouldn’t mind if Oregon won the national title, but he thinks that No. 1 Gonzaga (36-1) versus No. 1 North Carolina (31-7) would be an epic matchup.
“North Carolina/Gonzaga, I think, would be a pretty exciting matchup in terms of the way the game would be played,” Hurley said. “Probably a lot of scoring, a lot of offensive firepower – I think that would probably be a fun game.”