By Jon Gagnon
Niagara Gazette — AMHERST — The University at Buffalo held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to announce the hiring of former Duke point guard Bobby Hurley as its new men’s basketball head coach.
UB Athletic Director Danny White confirmed the move less than two weeks after firing 14-year head coach Reggie Witherspoon.
"After reviewing a large and highly-qualified national pool, and following my conversations with some of the most respected figures in college athletics, coach Hurley was clearly the choice to lead the next era of UB basketball," White said. " As we continue to foster our role as the flagship athletic department for the state of New York, the appointment of coach Hurley sends a clear statement that the University at Buffalo is committed to bringing big time college athletics to the Western New York community and the state at large.”
Hurley is highly regarded as one of the best point guards in the history of college basketball. In his four-year career at Duke, he helped lead it to three Final Four appearances, two consecutive National Championships and is college basketball’s all-time assists leader.
The Sacramento Kings selected him seventh overall in the 1993 draft, but his career was derailed after a serious car accident during his rookie season. He was able to return but was never the same, playing only five seasons before retiring.
In 2003 he rejoined the basketball world as a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2010 he was hired as an assistant coach by his brother, Dan Hurley, at Wagner College. This past season he followed his brother to Rhode Island where he served as the associate head coach for the Rams.
“I’m honored to be a head coach, and at the University at Buffalo,” Hurley said. “I think my (experience in the game of basketball) has prepared me for this moment. Everything I was blessed to have — a chance to play for some of the best coaches in the history of the game, to learn from them and then to spend three years with my brother Dan — has prepared me to go out on my own.”
His father, Bob Hurley Sr., is a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach at St. Anthony’s, where he's led 25 teams to a state championship and has accrued more than 1,000 wins.
Hurley was coached at Duke by legendary Mike Krzyewski, whose 925 career wins are the most in Division-1 college basketball history.
"I am incredibly happy for Bobby and for the Buffalo basketball program,” Krzyewski said in a release. “What a great marriage it will be for Bobby to work with Danny White. The two will form an incredible team that will take Buffalo basketball to another level of success. Bobby Hurley is as good of a competitor and the equal of any guard to play in the history of college basketball."
White also has ties to Duke, as his father, Kevin White, is the school's athletic director.
White’s controversial firing of Witherspoon was considered to be a result of the coach’s inability to earn Buffalo its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. Hurley's NCAA tournament experience as a player likely appealed to the first-year AD.
“I’ve seen a lot of success and I understand what it takes,” Hurley said. “You don’t get to the NCAA Tournament a couple of weeks before it happens, it's starting to happen now. There are obviously players in the program people think highly of and I’m looking forward to getting to work with them. When we roll into October next year we’re going to have some pretty high expectations because this is a veteran team and these guys have one more opportunity to put a stamp on their careers and have a chance to play in the tournament.”
The Bulls return every key contributor except for guard Tony Watson next season, including Javon McCrea, who was named First-Team All-MAC in his sophomore and junior seasons.