"You know those guys talked a lot of smack. They were brash and liked to talk, but at the end of the day they never got it done." - Bobby Hurley on the Fab Five
On behalf of SFBE, I got the treat of chatting with Bobby Hurley today as he makes the media rounds ahead of his new campaign with Dove For Men called the "Journey to Comfort." Hurley is teaming with Magic Johnson and John Thompson III and will be seen in commercials throughout the tournament offering short anecdotes about his journey through adversity overcoming his car accident, raising his kids, and playing and coaching with his brother, Dan Hurley. Bobby gave me his take on the Fab Five, summers in Saratoga Springs, Kyrie Irving's status, and of course the Final Four!
DQ: Last night, we all heard Jalen Rose tell us what Michigan thought of Duke back in 1992. Going into the Final Four, what was Duke's perception of that Michigan team?
BH: We knew they were talented, we played them earlier in the season and it was a real competitive game for us and it was a road game which made it more difficult. They showed that they had a lot of heart and talent so we knew it was going to be a tough game if we met. It was for the first half but we were on a different level in terms of guys having been there before and talent and ...everything.
DQ: So at halftime going down in the title game you guys weren't worried?
BH: We just had the experience. we had toughness. we were very well coached. They had talent and Chris webber was a very difficult matchup for us. But outside of Chris Webber, I thought we matched up real well with the rest of their team. We had played alot of tough games in our league. We were targeted all year being a team trying to repeat. We got through the Kentucky game which was obviously a very difficult game and then Indiana was a really good team before we had Michigan so we were ready for just about anything.
DQ: When you retired from basketball, you got into thoroughbred racing and traveled around the country. What was a typical summer day for you like up in Saratoga Springs, NY?
BH: It was tremendous. it was a good experience trying something different. Saratoga is a great place to be in the summer time and to spend a few summers there...I really loved it-- it's a great area.
DQ: What were some of the challenges you didn't anticipate joining your brother as a coach at Wagner?
BH: Seeing the talent level--there were certain guys that weren't Division I players. Looking at their team they were 5-26 coming in. But, we saw at individual workouts that there were some guys that looked like they wanted to be players and talking to them I could tell they wanted to be coached so we were looking forward to the challenge. We changed the culture in terms of how we were going to work. Dan established how hard we were going to play, our commitment to defending, and our commitment to getting better in the offseason. One of our guys, Tyler Murray, who averaged 7PPG a year ago, averaged 17PPG this season so it translated in wins and losses as well we went from 5 wins to 13. So now we have to continue to recruit well and bring in talent.
DQ: And how is the recruiting process going so far?
BH: It's going great. We signed a point guard from Charlotte that is really good (Marcus Burton). He averaged 20PPG this year for his high school and they got very deep in the state tournament and he is going to help us a lot. We have a transfer guard from Southern Miss who was first team all-New Jersey a couple years ago who will be eligible to play next season. We also added Mario Moody who is a 6'7'' really freak athlete a guy who is going to help us on the front line.
DQ: After Duke lost in the first round in 2007 to VCU, they realized changes needed to be made. How has the program there evolved since you were there in the early '90s?
BH: We were just starting to take off when I was there. Coach had gotten to a couple of Final Fours, so I was happy to be a part of that and to see coach get his due and to win an NCAA title. From there, animosity began to be created maybe towards the consistency of how much they won. There is definitely anti-Duke sentiment out there. I just think Coach realized that he has no control over that and he is just going to run the program the way he knows how to and he is going to recruit real well and win year in and year out.
DQ: Any idea as to whether Kyrie Irving is going to come back?
BH: I haven't spoken to anyone about it, but everything points towards a return. If he's getting out on the floor prior to an ACC tournament game and doing stuff live on the floor like that, it would lead me to believe there is a good chance we'll see him.
DQ: Who do you keep in close touch with from your teams at Duke?
BH: Kenny Blakeney is an assistant coach at Harvard so I see him on the road through coaching now. Christian Laettner recently played in a golf tournament at St. Anthony High School where my dad coaches and his presence was much appreciated there in terms of fundraising to keep that school open. And, I exchange texts with Grant Hill every now and then.
DQ: If you could pick one guy to play with, who came after you at Duke, who would it be?
BH: I was always a big Jay Williams fan. I always loved watching Jay play, and I know we play similar positions but I would have been able to get him the rock and get out of the way. He was a phenomenal talent and its a shame what happened to him there. If not him, then Shane Battier because of all the little things he does.
DQ: Before I let you go, who do you have in the Final Four?
BH: Well I picked Syracuse, Duke, Kansas, and Florida- Now if Kyrie Irving gets back I think Duke has got to be the favorite, but if that doesn't happen then I'm looking at Kansas based on the great team they have.