IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley Remembers Taking On Kobe Bryant

Bob Hurley remembers when St. Anthony played against Kobe Bryant, Lower Merion

By Dan Canova

Bob Hurley remembers it like it was yesterday.

When St. Anthony traveled down to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia during the 1995-96 high school basketball season to take on Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant was the No. 1 senior player in the entire country.

Prior to the game, a former scout from the Boston Celtics went over to Hurley and asked for his thoughts on the 17-year-old, who in just a few months would be drafted into the NBA and end up being one of the greatest players to walk the face of the Earth.

“I was just telling him how I thought he was a tremendous player,” Hurley recalled. “He was so versatile and poised… But I had no idea that he was going to be this great. I could only see that he would have been a really good player in college. But I couldn’t see at 17 years old, by the time he was 19 or 20, what was apparent to everybody.”

Hurley then went into the locker room to share with his team that NBA scouts were at the game to see Bryant play. St. Anthony was without its two best players at the time, Anthony Perry and Rashon Burno, due to missing school and practice the previous day. And since it was a day before the game, if you didn’t practice, you didn’t play.

Even without Burno and Perry, St. Anthony held a halftime lead and eventually pulled out a 15-point victory over Lower Merion, despite 28 points from Bryant. But it was after the game, what Hurley remembered most about Bryant.

“I thought the really nice thing was after the game ended, he asked me if the two of us could sit down and talk,” Hurley said. “And he just wanted me to go over the things that I saw with him, and the things that I thought he needed to get better at.

“When the second half started, we were up one point, and I didn’t think he had everybody ready for the second half of the game,” he added. “We jumped into a 10-point lead. I told him that he should have been all over his team in a dead-even game to win the first four minutes of the third quarter. He came out and played terrific, but he didn’t have the rest of them fired up. So, we got up 10 and maintained that the rest of the game. He thanked me and I told him to keep doing everything he’s doing.”

The previous year, Lower Merion actually made the trip up to Jersey City, and the Friars hosted Bryant as a junior at the No. 28 school in the Heights, which at the time was St. Anthony’s home court.

Hurley said it was unusual because when an out-of-state team would play St. Anthony, the Friars would normally go to them first, and then the following year the opposing team would say they have a scheduling conflict, and they couldn’t make the trip to Jersey City. But Lower Merion’s head coach Gregg Downer called up Hurley and said that they wanted to come up and play in Bryant’s junior year, only if they agreed to go down to Philadelphia for his senior season.

Hurley recalled that “a normal crowd was at the game, and nobody knew that a tremendous talent was in Jersey City that night.” Bryant ended up with 35 points and was phenomenal, according to Hurley.

“In my own household, my wife didn’t think Kobe was that good because we beat them twice in a row,” Hurley said. “And she felt that he should have been able to beat us on his own, which I thought was a little disrespectful to our team because we won the Tournament of Champions both in ’95 and ’96. We had two really good teams with eight or nine kids that ended up playing at the college level.”

When Hurley was at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2010, Bryant was there for the Los Angeles Lakers late great owner Jerry Buss, who was also inducted. Hurley recalls due to the madness of that night, he didn’t even know Bryant was there, but he would have loved to share a few minutes with him and just talk to him.

On Sunday afternoon, Hurley was just minutes into his drive leaving UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion after watching his son Danny coach the Huskies, and he received a call from Danny’s wife, Andrea, with the heartbreaking news that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who had died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

“Things happen in life, but for three different families to be decimated with this, the effects that it’s going to have on the remaining family members, it’s just something we are going to remember for a long time,” Hurley said. “In its own way, when John Kennedy died in the plane crash, and the biggest one in my life the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this is up there with them. I’ll remember this the rest of my life. On the ride home from UConn, we turned on the radio because we had hours on the way back from the game. And as you piece together all of the information, it was just tragedy.”

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IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley Named the Greatest Scholastic Coach in New Jersey History

The Greatest of All-Time

By Matthew Stanmyre

1. Bob Hurley, St. Anthony (boys basketball)

In 45 years as coach at St. Anthony, Hurley led the tiny Catholic school tucked in the shadows of Jersey City to 28 state championships, 13 Tournament of Champions titles, eight undefeated seasons, four national championships and 1,184 wins, establishing an unmatched legacy in New Jersey high school sports. In addition, more than 200 of Hurley’s players went on to play in college and several made it to the NBA. In 2010, he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. His career may have kept going, except St. Anthony, after years of struggling, shuttered in 2017 amid financial constraints.

To view the list of the top 10 New Jersey coaches, visit the Star Ledger.

The coach…and his pizza.

It takes $2 and a pizza to get Bob Hurley Sr. into a HS hoops game these days | Politi

“Two seniors, please.”

The man behind the ticket table at the Seton Hall Prep gymnasium has spent the past 45 minutes making change for a steady line of customers, so he barely looks up from the cash box when he hears the latest request. Then he catches a glimpse of the gray-haired man standing in front of him.

His eyes go wide.

His hand shoots out.

Bob Hurley Sr. shakes it and smiles. He is the most accomplished high school basketball coach in this state’s history — maybe in any state’s history — but here, before a game in the state tournament he used to dominate, he is just another customer.

He has to pay his $2.

He and his wife, Chris, head inside the gymnasium, and almost immediately, a dozen heads pivot in their direction. A fan in the bleachers whispers to his buddy and points. The referees, the coaches, the athletic directors — anyone within a few footsteps stops to say hello.

It seems totally normal, of course. Hurley, 70, has spent nearly his entire life in gymnasium like this one, including 45 years as head coach of powerhouse St. Anthony in Jersey City. Why wouldn’t he be here at the West Orange school for a playoff game against St. Peter’s Prep?

Little did everyone know that Hurley has attended just a handful of games this season, and in order to just get the Naismith Hall of Fame coach into this gym, we had to bribe him.

With pizza.

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IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley in the New York Times

The School Closed. The Players Left. But the Coach Can’t Quit.

It was 3:50 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon when the gray-haired coach parked his silver Toyota Camry and strode purposefully toward the gym.

Bob Hurley, 70, wasn’t heading into his gym and he wasn’t getting set to coach his players — he no longer has either — but he needed a basketball fix just the same.

So wearing gray sweatpants, gray sneakers and a blue pullover, and armed with the black notepad he takes with him nearly every time he sets foot in a gym, Hurley entered Linden High School and took a seat in the first row of bleachers.

Since the closure of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City last spring, Hurley, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame who has won more than two dozen state titles, has become a coach without a team. He has found homes for the old trophies and scrapbooks, and even for his former players at new schools, but it will take more than a few months for him to adjust to basketball as a consumer experience, not an occupation, for the first time since 1972.

“This is weird,” Hurley told Linden’s coach, Phil Colicchio, when the latter came over to exchange pleasantries before the November practice. “Usually I’d be doing this stuff. But I’m stealing from you and I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.”

Of course, Hurley could have just found another team. When the news broke that St. Anthony was closing, he fielded calls from a high school in California and another in New Jersey asking if he would be interested in coaching this winter. Walking away from basketball was never an option, but leaving Jersey City, or taking over another team after decades at St. Anthony, just didn’t feel right, either. So Hurley has become a spectator instead.

By the time he settled into his seat at Linden High School, Hurley had already attended nine college games in four states this season. He had watched his son, Bobby, coach Arizona State on television and had seen his younger son, Dan, lead Rhode Island in person at least four times. He had attended more than half a dozen college practices and spoken at nearly as many clinics.

“It’s sad,” Dan Hurley said. “It’s the first time in 50 years where he’s not leading a group of young men.”

The transition has been easier for Hurley, in some ways, because his legacy lives on through the St. Anthony diaspora. Nearly 20 former St. Anthony players are on college rosters this season, and several dozen more have scattered to other New Jersey high schools through what Hurley jokingly refers to as the “dispersal draft.” Then there are the coaches and the assistant coaches, the old rivals and the old friends.

“I coach basketball,” Colicchio said. “He loves basketball. It’s two different things. And not too many people love basketball the way that he does.”

Hurley, who won nearly 1,200 games and 28 state championships at St. Anthony, drove the 15 miles to Linden not only to see Colicchio, but also to watch the progress of a former St. Anthony junior varsity player. Point guard Myles Ruth is expected to start for the Linden varsity this winter.

As much as Hurley tries, sometimes it is hard for him to keep a low profile. Before the Linden workout began, all 16 players, including Ruth, made their way to Hurley, forming a line to shake his hand. Once they began playing, Hurley lost himself in the action, occasionally scribbling in his notebook.

After one player took 11 dribbles and ended up right where he started, Colicchio, who shares Hurley’s dry sense of humor, reprimanded him loud enough for the whole gym to hear. “You took 11 dribbles,” he shouted. “You took 11 dribbles and you went from here to here!” Everyone, including Hurley, laughed along.

Hurley does seem to be enjoying himself in his retirement. He takes two of his grandchildren to school every day. He is fascinated by the television shows “Mountain Men” and “Homestead Rescue,” and he and his wife, Chris, are regulars at their favorite Jersey City restaurant.

He is still coaching, too. After St. Anthony closed, Hurley set up a nonprofit organization, the Hurley Family Foundation, and through that program he spends a few hours a week working with elementary school and high school players. But he still seeks out more basketball.

One day in October, he attended a practice at Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, N.J., to check in on another former St. Anthony player, Kaleb Bishop, who is a sophomore forward for the Knights.

“The first thing he did when he walked in was he sat down and started taking notes,” said F.D.U. Coach Greg Herenda, who has known Hurley since attending his summer basketball camp in 1977. “I came full circle in my life in that I was conducting a practice and Coach Hurley was taking notes.”

Hurley has made a career habit of taking those notes, recording them in a black notebook that says, “Bob Hurley — St. Anthony Friars,” on the cover. He has years of these observations stored in plastic folders in his closet.

“There isn’t only one way to play,” he said, “so that’s why I think when you go from one place to another, you always should have pen and paper. You pick up something: It might be a phrase. You pick up a drill. There’s always something.”

In November, Hurley’s journey took him to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he watched two of his former players help defeat another who is now an assistant coach at Wagner, where Dan Hurley coached for two seasons. On the weekend before Thanksgiving, Bob and Chris took in three games in a tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut — two on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. (That is the maximum number of games, Hurley joked, that Chris will allow in one weekend.)

And at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, when most people were home with their families, Bob and Chris and their grandchildren Anna and Gabe headed to Brooklyn to see Dan coach Rhode Island against Seton Hall in a tournament at Barclays Center. The next night, around the same time Bobby was coaching Arizona State past No. 15 Xavier in Las Vegas, the elder Bob Hurley was back at Barclays Center, seven rows up, for Rhode Island-Virginia.

“I think it’s probably the hardest time of the year for my father and mother and former students,” Dan Hurley said. “I don’t want to just make it strictly a basketball thing. It was a community of young people that are suffering that a school that they loved and were nurtured and developed in is no longer there.”

Bob Hurley knows where he will be on Friday, when the New Jersey high school regular-season begins: at the Dickinson-Ferris game in Jersey City. On Dec. 30, he and Chris will head back to Rhode Island to watch Dan and Rhode Island face George Mason. The next day, he’ll continue on to Merrimack College in Massachusetts; three of his former pupils — Juvaris Hayes, Idris Joyner and Jaleel Lord — play for the Warriors.

After that there will be dozens more high school teams and dozens more high school players to check in on. Roselle Catholic. Mater Dei. The Ranney School. And more college trips, too.

“To this point, do I miss it?” Hurley said. “No, it just began.”

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Saints Perform Miracles

On large screen televisions in living rooms and bars across the United States Wednesday night, sports fans got to learn first-hand about the “Miracle of St. Anthony,” and the Saint who made it all happen – Bob Hurley.

The introduction of Bob (Bob Hurley Wins Best Coach at ESPYS 2017) captured some of the man’s dedication to his players, and his success.  It didn’t capture what he did for the thousands of students who attended St. Anthony High School and didn’t play basketball, which was equally impressive.

We chronicled the plight of the school at the hands of the Newark Archdiocese here (Faith? I Lost Mine Last Week.) a few months ago.  It is widely rumored that the Archdiocese will receive about $15 million for the land St. Anthony’s is built on.  We speculated what might be done with the proceeds.  My bride has a great idea on how a portion should be spent, which I will close with.

Immediately after the Archdiocese decided to shutter the school, Bob Hurley went into a full court press, calling other schools asking them to take his students.  The 140 or so freshmen, sophomores and juniors at St. Anthony will be attending schools like Mater Dei, Roselle Catholic, Ranney, St. Peter’s Prep, Marist, Don Bosco, Immaculate Conception, and Christ the King – all because Bob got on the phone and pitched for his students.  And amazingly, almost all – with a few exceptions – will be charged the same tuition the students paid to attend St. Anthony.

And his coaches are moving on as well…to Perth Amboy, Marist and one out to Sacramento.

What’s next for Bob?  He can’t leave Jersey City.  He’s forming a non-profit organization, cut a deal with the City to rent a gym in downtown Jersey City and start an after school program for kids who need someplace to go to stay off the streets.

“It’s going to be a grass roots thing,” he said.  “I want them to learn how to play, but also have exposure to other sports.  We’ll run some clinics for them, bring in some speakers, provide education about the dangers of drugs…things these kids down here need.”

That’s the real “Miracle of St. Anthony.”  It’s “The Guy” who for almost his entire life – along with his wife Chris – dedicated himself to helping a community…and students…who needed help.

And what was the thanks the Archdiocese gave him?  The day after the last day of school Bob went back to St. Anthony to walk through the halls one more time…and found that the locks had already been changed.

Now to that to that great idea from my bride to the Archdiocese:  take a portion of the $15 million and pay for the high school education of those 140 students who just lost their school…and their Saint.  It’s a small consolation, but for all those students, it will help.

IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley Wins ESPY for Best Coach

Bob Hurley, former St. Anthony basketball coach, honored at ESPY Awards

He isn’t coaching hoops anymore, but the accolades keep on coming for Bob Hurley.

The former head of the storied boys basketball program at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, which closed earlier this year, won the Best Coach Award at the ESPYs Wednesday night.

Hurley, one of two Basketball Hall of Famers who only coached at the high school level, went 1,162-119 and won 28 state titles to go along with four national championships in his 45 seasons running the show at St. Anthony’s.

“It’s really a great honor to be here tonight,” Hurley said during in his acceptance speech. “Getting this award alongside all these iconic coaches, but even more specifically it’s a great honor to be representing all these great coaches.”

He then thanked his family, including his sons, URI head coach Dan Hurley and Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, who were in attendance, for making what he has always referred to as “the miracle” of St. Anthony’s possible.

“It’s a great honor to be representing all these coaches in the high school ranks,” Bob Hurley said. “Because every athlete that has come up on this stage tonight, no matter what sport they play, each one of them had a coach in high school, junior college, or maybe even before who played a critical role in their development as an athlete and it’s the whole person part that I have always taken a lot of pride in.”

View the original article by Nicholas Parco at the NY Daily News:

The Ringer: Bob Hurley

St. Anthony’s Unanswered Prayer

Over 45 years, Bob Hurley turned his Jersey City basketball program into an unlikely national power. Now, after 28 state titles and decades of staving off closure, St. Anthony is shutting its doors, and the Friars family is trying to cope with running out of miracles.

A few minutes before 7 on a warm May night in Jersey City, New Jersey, the first of 200 or so guests arrive for what one event organizer calls “the final celebration of life” for the fabled St. Anthony High School basketball team. They climb up the brownstone steps to White Eagle Hall, the old gym about a mile from the school itself, where head coach Bob Hurley’s Friars, who never had a home gym of their own, practiced for the better part of three decades until 2003. As the attendees pull open the mahogany doors and walk into the main hall, they mostly gasp. They remember White Eagle as a dingy, cramped gym, but a $6 million renovation that began in 2012 and concluded this spring has produced an ornate concert venue. During the renovation, a crew wiping away grime on the ceiling discovered two handcrafted, stained-glass murals, and they ripped up the basketball court and refashioned it as bar counters and balcony flooring. Now, the onstage guitarist, sensitive to the occasion, plays only slow, acoustic jazz and blues.

“Well,” a woman says to her friends as they enter the hall, “they turned the temple of basketball into a whorehouse.”

Hurley, red-faced and beaming, hovers near the entrance and greets seemingly all of the former players, parents, boosters, and fans attending the program’s last supper with a deep-throated, “Look what the cat dragged in,” or, “Good to see you,” and a clap on the back or a hug. “We have so many memories in this place,” the Hall of Famer Hurley exclaims when a longtime St. Anthony booster hands him a wooden-framed, black-and-white photo of a former Friars team.

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IPZ Team Gets Together To Celebrate Students

Members of the IPZ leadership team and board of advisors attended the annual Cento Amici scholarship dinner.

Cento Amici (100 Friends) is a community-based, member organization dedicated to providing need-based scholarship assistance to qualified students in New Jersey. Its mission is to enhance the educational opportunities for those who need it most and who are most under-served by existing need-based programs.

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Faith? I Lost Mine Last Week.

I was speaking with a good friend Thursday about the Catholic Church. He’s left it. I’m right behind him.

He and his wife gave up when his local parish kept asking for money, and they saw no improvements in their church…the school…or their programs.

Turns out the money was going to settlements the Church had made with victims of abuse by priests.

Then last week the Archdiocese of Newark decided to shut St. Anthony High School in Jersey City.

All St. Anthony’s has done since the 1950’s is provide a great education for students who otherwise can’t afford one…sent all of its students to college for the past 20 years…and been built on the backs of my good friends, Bob and Chris Hurley. Yes, the school and Bob have become legendary in high school basketball circles. But this school is about much, much more than basketball.

Those kids in that accompanying picture are students of St. Anthony High School. Great students. Students who came to a scholarship dinner last week…worked the crowd as well as any high school student I’ve met…and made the people in attendance ask how they can help.

The Archdiocese wanted St. Anthony to have $500,000 in the bank before next school year, and then said it needed the school to increase its enrollment. With stories circulating for a year that the school might be forced to close, how many parents were willing to take the chance to enroll their children in a school that might not be there? That was a clever political ploy by the powers that be in the Archdiocese – powers that wanted St. Anthony shut…but knew the Bob Hurley legend made it a public relations nightmare.

The $500,000 is an interesting number. It matches the cost of the addition on the home of the diocese’s recently retired Archbishop.And by the way. That’s a home with a market value of close to $2 million. He lives there alone.

So what’s more important? An addition with an indoor swimming pool for the retired leader of the Newark Archdiocese? Or a great school for kids who truly need an opportunity in life?

It would appear Newark never got the directive from Pope Francis about taking care of the flock first.

On Bloomberg this week, Joe Nocera wrote the best piece about the issue I had the chance to read.

It’s a view reiterated to me by the Athletic Director at another Catholic High School. Schools need to realize they have to be run as if they are businesses.

But as Nocera points out, the Archdiocese should have been helping Bob Hurley and St. Anthony’s do that. They – when you look at corporate America – are the “corporate entity.”

I wish – for all those great students at St. Anthony High School – that the Pope would take this one personally. The Newark Catholic braintrust has put money…and politics…ahead of the well-being of hundreds of students.

I can’t agree with their decision. And that has me disgusted with the Newark Archdiocese leadership…and therefore, the Catholic church.

Forgive me, Lord, but this one is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

Hurley Family Values…IPZ Family Values

As the University of Rhode Island Rams play their second round matchup of the NCAA Tournament versus the Oregon Ducks tonight, the IPZ family is rooting for Rhody! Coached by Dan Hurley – son of IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley – URI earned its way to the tournament by winning the A10 Championship a week ago, and advanced to the round of 32 following their 84-72 victory against Creighton in the first round of the tournament on St. Patrick’s Day.

Hurley family values: Rhode Island batters and beats Creighton in NCAA tournament

SACRAMENTO — Hurley spent his formative years learning basketball from one of its greatest teachers: his father, Bob Hurley Sr., the Naismith Hall of Fame coach of the legendary St. Anthony High Friars in Jersey City. And while the Friars have produced plenty of big-name players over the years — including Dan and his brother, Bobby — the fundamental values of the program have never changed: namely, that basketball games are won through ferocity, intensity, physicality and a commitment to defense.

Those are the values Dan Hurley has taken with him to the various stops in his own coaching career, beginning at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey, which he turned into a national power, before spending two years at Wagner College and then heading to the University of Rhode Island in 2012. Those are the values that propelled the Rams on Friday to their first NCAA tournament victory since 1998.

With his father and his brother Bobby watching from the stands, Hurley’s Rhode Island team, the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region, battered and bruised No. 6 Creighton on its way to an 84-72 victory in the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance in 18 years. The Rams advanced to face No. 3 seed Oregon on Sunday for spot in the Sweet 16 and a trip to Kansas City next weekend.

“I think we’re built in the image of my family,” Hurley said. “Obviously, we’re all very intense, very passionate about basketball, very passionate about helping young people develop. And I think we also … this team reflects a little bit of the city I grew up in, Jersey City.

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