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March 14, 2018

Dan Hurley

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

COACH HURLEY: Playing in the NCAA Tournament is a reward for having a great season. And the guys are really thrilled to get a chance to play here in Pittsburgh tomorrow versus a great Oklahoma team, an exciting match-up, CBS game to kind of tip off -- you know, tip off to Thursday, the start of the tournament.

So, you know, it's an exciting opportunity. Thrilled to be here. Can't wait to compete against Oklahoma.

Q. Coach, I know pretty much when you talk about Oklahoma, the first name that comes up is Trae Young, so, when you look at a player like him, what are the challenges of defending a point guard with his abilities?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah. You know, Trae Young, he really has no weakness in his game. He can score at every level obviously, with amazing range on his perimeter shot. He can pass the ball with either hand at ridiculous angles. He has the ball in his hands, it has to be over 90 percent of the time, you know, 90, maybe even 95 percent.

So he's just constantly attacking. So he has every requisite skill and you just try to make things as hard for him as you possibly can in a ball screen defense. And when he's playing in isolation and when he's coming at you in transition, you just try and show him as many different looks as you can, too, during the course of the game, because he adjusts so quickly to what he sees on the court, but he also has the mind for the game, too.

It's a heck of a challenge, but they also have some long athletes that play around to him. And when they're right, there may be -- their long athletes are making threes around him when they're right. But it all starts with him.

Q. I was wondering, the days leading up to the brackets or a couple days after, were you aware of how much your name had been connected to the Pitt coaching job and how do you feel about being here, to the point that a lot of people are billing Dan Hurley's Rhode Island Rams being here as one of the lead stories. Are you flattered about that, what are your thoughts there?
COACH HURLEY: It's something, social media age, for me to sit up here and say I have no awareness would be, you know, it wouldn't be truthful. But I haven't thought one second about, you know, any other team or program or, you know, what city I'm playing in, relative to who has a coaching vacancy.

This is a special group of players that are recruited into this program, seniors special. This program has become special. It's our second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament after not being in one for a long time, and we built an amazing thing at Rhode Island. So that's -- really the only thing I've ever thought about during the course of this season, is, you know, is this team and our goals and trying to reach them.

And, you know, I have been on that -- coaching rumors with me is something that -- it's a great reflection for the University, our program, and these players have made it -- their efforts have made me, you know, I guess attractive to other schools, so credit to the University and what they've been able to build in terms of the program and these great players.

Q. Dan, you had a pretty visceral reaction to Bobby's selection into this tournament. Can you explain the emotions? I know you guys speak regularly but what you felt in that moment seeing Arizona State up there?
COACH HURLEY: It was tremendous joy, and because of the format, I would like to thank CBS, or whoever decided to do it that way, alphabetically, so I could find out quickly. It was joy, and then a tremendous amount of just relief, you know, like just relief for Bob. I know how hard he works. I know how potentially -- I know how hard his team has worked. I know how potentially great they can play in a tournament format which plays a little more like a nonconference than a conference schedule, you know, in terms of the way that the game's going to be played. It was a tremendous relief, joy, all these things, because I knew how hard -- how bad he wanted it for his team.

Q. Just to follow on Dana's question, when is the last time you talked to Bobby? Did you share any good anecdotes and also I know your mom and dad are driving out to both games. What is that going to be like for you guys having them at both games?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah. We speak twice a day when -- you know, when it's at a critical point, when we need that support from each other. And for the most part, you know, also text messaging, just different things to keep each other's spirits up.

We don't -- my dad started our coaching tree, and we got into this together at Wagner College several years back. So we're each other's support system in this business, which is tough at times. The highs and lows, to be able to share those with your brother and support each other through those moments with your best friend, person that you love and care about, it's an amazing thing to go through with your brother.

And then my parents, you know, they would be driving a lot this week, and if Bob wins, they'll be headed to Detroit. They got their work cut out for them. But it's good because my dad needs to be kept busy because he's been driving my mother crazy the whole year. Just driving her crazy.

Q. Dan, you were talking a little early about with your success, some of the rumors that can surround you sometimes. I was curious how, if at all, you approach that with your players?
COACH HURLEY: Earlier in the year, we -- I think during one of our conference games, the student section was yelling at our bench, you know, hey, your coach is going to X school. In fact, Russell asked me after the game, was I coaching the next game. Yeah, I had a conversation with him.

The players -- internally everyone knows where my head is at. And they're used to it. It's been like that every offseason. It's happened a little bit sooner for them than it normally would, but this isn't the first time that my name has been connected to jobs. They understand the situation. And they're used to it, I'm used to it, and it's not a distraction at all.

Q. Not just playing Trae Young tomorrow but going up against Lon Kruger, a coach that had tremendous success, been at two Final Four, taking five schools to the NCAAs. When you match up to another coach with a resume like that, does that give you a little extra juice?
COACH HURLEY: Me and Bob were talking about that last night. You're coaching against Jim Boeheim tomorrow night in the NCAA Tournament. That's pretty cool. Playing Oklahoma from the Big 12, one of the most talked about college teams in the country this year with one of the most talked about college basketball stars in recent memory as a freshman, you know. And a coach of his caliber, how could you not feel like it's an amazing opportunity, and, you know, something that's just thrilling.

It's thrilling to be a part of the NCAA Tournament. It's hard to get into this tournament. There's a lot of really, really good teams that didn't get in. It's a thrill to be here but to see that Oklahoma flash, you just -- it's just added some extra sizzle to it.

Q. I was just curious, since Alabama is here as well, since you played them this year, I was wondering what you recall about that game in terms of the challenges Alabama posed for you when you played them?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah. Similar to Oklahoma in terms of being long and athletic. Both are led by amazing point guards, different type players, but both, obvious lottery pick players. But just, you know, very similar in terms of the size, the length. You know, Alabama, I think really showed who they were late in the SEC Tournament, the way they played, and amazingly, I think talented offensive team across the board, and they -- they are a very, very deep, deep team.

Q. Going back to Seton Hall and now obviously as a head coach, you've gone head-to-head with the schools here in Pittsburgh. I'm curious what your take is from a reputation from a basketball sense in Pittsburgh, this region?
COACH HURLEY: We've had, at Rhode Island, I've been here -- I didn't always play well. I think we played in Fitzgerald, I think, had some really, really bad games in there. So not too many fond memories as a player. I think we -- P.J. didn't walk out real happy with us after several of those nights in there.

But I've had better success as a coach coming back in here with Wagner several years back. In my second year there, that was a pretty neat moment, followed up by the nine-hour bus ride back to Staten Island. And then, you know, and last year here with the A-10 tournament, obviously we feel like we play well in Pittsburgh. We've played well in this arena. Hopefully, we have some magic in the tournament here.

Q. Dan, you talk about bus rides making me think about your commute out here. Based on the snow, had to leave a little early. How are your guys physically in terms of the couple days of travel?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah. We wish we could have -- the weather would have cooperated because we played Friday. We played three pretty intense games Friday, Saturday and the championship, hard fought, tough loss to stomach versus Davidson in that one-point game on Sunday.

We had the -- we flew commercial, got in real late Sunday night, a little bit after midnight, and then we were back on the buses on Monday night just to try to beat the storm. There was just no way for us to coordinate the entire group and get out on a plane Monday night, so -- so we drove about halfway, and drove about halfway, you know, Monday night into Tuesday morning, got into the hotel 2:00 a.m., 2:30, slept for a couple hours and busted it in.

Guys feel good -- I think getting in here today. I think they were dragging a little bit yesterday in practice. Just getting in here and getting the experience, we didn't want them to miss that. We didn't want to have to wait, maybe try and catch a Wednesday flight and then they miss all this. This is the reward for having a great season and we wanted them to experience it. But before they could experience this, they had to experience the minor league baseball bus trip.

Q. I couldn't let that Fitzgerald field house reference go without a follow-up. What do you remember about playing games in that old gym and what do you think about that program where they got The Pete now up on the hill in Oakland?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah. I remember struggling against Sean Miller early on, playing there and Jerry McCullough, and obviously, you know, I followed the program. I'm a basketball junky, so the work that Ben and Jamie did there was amazing.

Q. As a follow-up to your bus trip here, when did it become clear that you guys were going to have to change your plans and leave early and where did you end up staying Monday night?
COACH HURLEY: Right around 4:45 p.m. on Monday, we audibled to the 11:00 p.m. departure bus, and then we stayed in Passaic. We found a Courtyard Marriott in Passaic. We stopped. We stayed. They did lie to me, though. The staff told me, I think it was going to be a 6 1/2 hour bus ride. It was more like 9. We did the 3, and then the 6. But now we're here and we're ready to go.

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