March 16, 2018
COACH HURLEY: Obviously thrilled, thrilled to get the opportunity to play again Saturday. I don't know if there's, you know, a college team in the tournament that's had a chance to play, you know, two more exciting games than us to start the tournament off. Trae Young and Oklahoma to kick it off yesterday, with CBS. And then a chance to play Duke.
So, obviously, you know, an excited group of guys that can't wait to take the court tomorrow against, you know, the best college basketball program, you know, in the country.
Q. The obvious question: What's your first memory of meeting Coach K, and what's the relationship been like over the years, your family and him?
COACH HURLEY: I remember, obviously, Bob's recruiting process, and meeting Coach K. at open gym at White Eagle Hall, the bingo hall that's so famous where it all began at St. Anthony. And the Coach K flying back with Bobby after the official visit and meeting Coach K in the home and just how easy he made everyone feel, his personality, his wit.
And you could see that special connection that he made with Bobby on that recruiting visit and for me, the multitude of times that, as a high school player, that I was at Final Fours, and how gracious and nice Coach K was to me and our family. And then even as a high school coach at St. Benedict's, he recruited several of my players.
It's just been a relationship for years, and he's the standard for what you like to be as a coach at this college level. You know, he set the highest standards.
Q. I noticed yesterday during the game you were good at stamping your foot to get your team's attention when you're on the far side of the court. Just wondering generally how you address when you want to communicate with your and they're on the other side. I know they expanded the coaching box, and I was wondering should they expand it more and have you ever been whistled for out-of-the box violation?
COACH HURLEY: Absolutely been whistled for those. I think yesterday I got a bench warning. Did that happen? Yeah, that did happen. I got very near the X. You're not supposed to be close to the substitution X.
The foot -- I can't whistle, and the players are used to a foot stomp. It's a little like a WWE wrestler. I think that's when we mean business at the defensive end, when we need a stop. Maybe it's the equivalent of when Bobby used to slap the floor, when Duke or Wojo -- not sure if they still do this now -- playing the zone.
But it just sends a message that we need a stop. That's my go-to. A lot of mannerisms out there, but that's probably my go-to.
Q. Dan, Duke's size inside, how do you guys try to approach dealing with that?
COACH HURLEY: Wow. Just seeing it in person yesterday, that's -- you know, Oklahoma had some length that we weren't necessarily used to from our conference, but that was pretty startling to see it in person yesterday, both in the zone, in that zone defense, the length in that, and obviously how they are able to get the ball inside and into the low post, as well as, you know, when that ball goes up.
It's -- the way they attack the offensive glass is a little bit scary, so, for us, it's about -- you can't miss a block-out, and you got to get to your block-outs early. And for us, we've got to be able to kind of pressure them out of the scoring area. If they're playing really tight to that three-point line on offense, we're going to have great difficulty guarding them.
Our pressure -- without getting too spread out, you know, we've got to kind of make -- their entry catches and some of the things they're doing, we've got to kind of force that 32, 35 feet from the basket as opposed to 20, 24 feet from the basket in terms of the stuff they're running on offense.
Q. Dan, aside from having a great coach and great players, I think Duke might be able to beat some teams with the brand and with the sort of cachet that they have. You guys being on the floor at Mohegan Sun, how might that minimize you going into tomorrow for you?
COACH HURLEY: I think it definitely minimizes it, just because of where we were at then as a program, trying to break through. We hadn't experienced success in March, so I think playing them the one time last year, certainly helps to have gotten that first one against Duke out of our system.
You know, what I'm banking on is what we've been able to do in the last two, you know, March, the conference tournaments, winning a championship, getting to the championship game. Almost having a second. Playing well last March, beating Creighton, having Oregon -- oops, did I get that right -- having them on the ropes, and nearly having that game closed out.
So I'm hoping that last year's March, and the way we fought yesterday, just a little -- caused us to relax and just play the game, try and find a way to beat that team, not get caught up in all that mystique.
Q. Dan, have you thought -- have you had any consideration of putting Cyril Langevine back in the starting lineup with what Marvin Bagley bring for Duke?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah. No. To this point in the season, we're tinkering with trying to maybe do some different things that haven't necessarily been who we've been in terms of an emergency situation. But the way this team has played this year, the level that they've played at, you know, the 26 wins, you know, historic season, these guys deserve to play like the warriors that they are, you know?
We've been overmatched in terms of size the whole year. Obviously, it hasn't been to this extent. And at the other end of the court, too, our ability to maybe spread them out in the zone, you know, will hopefully create some issues for them. Maybe our quickness, you know, the multitude of players that we have that can make threes or make plays, you know, against that zone, you know can hopefully offset the challenges that we're going to have at the defensive end.
So we tried to really kind of lock in on some of the smaller teams that they played during the course of the year that gave them trouble like the Virginia Tech game at Virginia Tech. Try to go to school on some of the things that they did. It's hard at this point to change who you are, and these guys are warriors, so we're going to play it the way we've played it.
Q. Coach, we know obviously your brother's relationship and your family's relationship with Duke, but were you ever recruited to play for Coach K?
COACH HURLEY: Yeah. I was. I didn't have enough stars. I was probably a 3 1/2 star player and Duke historically doesn't go for those. I begged, just didn't quite play well enough. I think there was some token recruitment. I don't even think I ever got a home visit, though. Let me change that. I eliminated them from my list early on. So, I didn't want that. Too successful.
Q. When Stanford was in here a little bit ago, he said that they heard the Duke players were at Chipotle and said they don't even know who Rhode Island is. How do you embrace that? Do you try to tame down that underdog role?
COACH HURLEY: I think that's going to have zero impact on the game. We're one of the hardest playing teams in the country. Our issues are never motivational, playing Senior Day when I kind of screwed the team up emotionally for the St. Joe's game at home.
I am not sure if there's a team that played harder than us from start to finish this year. The stage that these guys are on. Listen, when I was coaching at Wagner, I didn't know a whole lot about the Rhode Island program either. But I think when they turn on the film, I know their coach is going to watch the film for us. They have a respect for how hard we play, how competitive we are.
And I think Duke will have respect for us when they take the court, but that's not surprising, you know? We're not -- you know, we're not all over ESPN, or FOX Sports. Our league doesn't get a whole lot of respect, but there's some pretty good basketball that's played in the Atlantic 10.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports