January 22, 2010

Boyle, Hurley in position to move up

MORE HOOPS: RivalsHigh ranks the Top 100 High School Basketball Teams

As is always the case, Saturday night's annual matchup between Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick and Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict's will feature numerous Division I college prospects.

This year, however, you may be able to add two more names to the list: Head coaches Kevin Boyle and Dan Hurley.

The 47-year-old Boyle, at St. Patrick, acknowledges that he would consider options to coach at the next level.

"You hear rumors all the time about this job opening, that job opening," he said. "And obviously if a job in New Jersey opens, of course I'd be very interested in seeing if I could be a candidate for one of those. If they open.

"But obviously you've got to wait till something happens and you wish all the guys that are in those places success. And eventually if something opens at one of those schools, then I would love to be considered at that time."

The 37-year-old Hurley, a former college assistant in the state who now heads St. Benedict's, wasn't as definitive.

"I've been very flattered to have had some great opportunities to get back into college coaching, but my family and working in a great school like St. Benedict's are what I'm concerned about," he said.

Both appear to be ready.

Villanova coach Jay Wright, who has players from both programs, said the way they run their programs would make a step up easier than it would be for most high school coaches.

"I think both of them would be great college coaches," Wright said. "And basically they are.

"Those two high school programs are run like college programs. The 12 month-a-year commitment their commitment to academics and preparing kids for college academically like we prepare kids to graduate their skill development for guys. Both of them have developed guys to go to the NBA.

"The way they run their program, they do everything that a college coach does. Even their staffs. They supervise staffs of six, seven people and that's why they're the top teams in the country because they have outstanding programs and they are really run like college programs."

The opportunities may be there.

The college coaching carousel may swing heavily through New Jersey this offseason.

The state's eight Division 1 teams were a combined 64-75 as of Jan. 21 and several coaches appear to be on the hot seat. Not a single Jersey college team made the NCAA tournament the past two seasons. Rutgers, the state university in the Big East, hasn't advanced to the Big Dance since 1991.

Rutgers (9-9) and NEC schools Monmouth (8-10), Fairleigh Dickinson (4-14) and Wagner on Staten Island (2-17) could face coaching changes in the offseason.

Should Boyle or Hurley move to one of those schools, they would seemingly have an in to those school's recruiting area as New Jersey annually produces top teams and top players.

Three North Jersey programs are ranked among the Top 17 of the RivalsHigh 100 - No. 4 St. Patrick, No. 7 Paterson (N.J.) Catholic and No. 17 St. Benedict's. Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony, coached by the legendary Bob Hurley, is ranked No. 38.

Boyle and Hurley regularly churn out high-level Division 1 players.

The current St. Patrick roster features Duke-bound point guard Kyrie Irving, Western Kentucky commit Derrick Gordon and wing Michael Gilchrist, widely regarded the top junior in the country. St. Patrick's has two players on NBA rosters (Al Harrington and Samuel Dalembert).

The St. Benedict's roster includes junior guard Myck Kabongo, who has committed to Texas, Rutgers-bound senior forward Gil Biruta and Temple commit Aaron Brown, a senior. St. Benedict's has one player in the NBA (J.R. Smith).

One could make the argument that St. Patrick and St. Benedict's often have more talent on their rosters than many college teams in the state. Hurley does.

"In a lot of cases, the biggest adjustment for a high school coach that coaches at the level of a St. Benedict's or a St. Pat's or St. Anthony or the elite level, if you're talking about Kevin to a MAAC or an NEC school, the biggest adjustment would probably be he'd be coaching teams maybe with a little less talent," he said.

Hurley is a former Seton Hall guard who served as an assistant coach at Rutgers and has been offered numerous Division 1 head and assistant coaching jobs over the years. He turned down the Marist job two years ago, and has rebuffed Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon's offers on several occasions, preferring to stay close to his family and home on the Jersey Shore.

Still, Boyle, who is friendly with Hurley despite the teams' annual showdown, believes Hurley would make an excellent college coach.

"I think Danny's done a very good job at St. Benedict's," he said. "He was an assistant at Rutgers for a while. Obviously, he's been good at this level. I think most coaches who are successful at the high school level; especially the level that we're coaching at, it's just a shade below that [college] level. I think guys that are intense, good defensive coaches are going to be relatively successful at the next level as well."

Hurley, who also teaches World History and works in the admissions office at St. Benedict's, pointed out that in some aspects it might be easier to be a college coach than a high school one because you could focus completely on basketball.

"Having been a college assistant myself, I gained an enormous amount of respect for how hard it is to be a head high school coach," Hurley said. "It was easier to be a college assistant or a college head coach because that's the only thing you're doing all day. You're not teaching classes. You're not working in the admissions office. You're not taking on several roles."

Hurley is confident he could make the adjustment.

"If you're a great high school coach and your team shares the ball on offense, plays hard and defends and rebounds well," he said, "all that stuff is going to translate to the college level."

The question is whether either will ever give it a try.

Hurley's dad, Bob - now 62 - passed on many opportunities to move up in his career over the years. He says he's glad he did.

He is closing in on 1,000 career victories and could cross that threshold next season.

"Right now there's no job in the United States that I would take," he said. "I'm very happy working with the kids."

It remains to be seen if Kevin Boyle and Dan Hurley will choose the same path.

***NOTE: St. Patrick (12-1) will face St. Benedict's (12-1) on Saturday at 8:15 at The Dunn Center in Elizabeth. The game benefits The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. Tickets are $8 for students and $12 for adults. For more information, check the Coalition's Web site.

St. Anthony plays another Jersey power, Christian Brothers Academy, Sunday in the Izod High School Showcase at Caldwell College.

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