By John Wawrow | Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo has hired Bobby Hurley to take over as its men’s basketball coach.
Hurley, who was introduced at a news conference Tuesday, completed his first season as an associate coach at Rhode Island this month, working under his brother, Dan Hurley. He spent the previous two seasons as an assistant at Wagner, also with Dan serving as head coach.
At Buffalo, he takes over for Reggie Witherspoon, who was fired two weeks ago after 14 seasons on the job. Witherspoon went 14-20 this past season.
Hurley, a superstar high school guard while playing for his father, Bob, Sr., in New Jersey in the 1980s, is best known for his playing days at Duke, where he established himself as one of the nation’s top all-time point guards. He led the Blue Devils to three Final Four berths, including 1992, when he was named most outstanding player.
“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,” athletic director Danny White said. “I’m confident after our discussions that he is the right leader to take our program to the next level.”
Hurley’s ties to Duke played a factor with White. His father, Kevin White, is the AD at Duke.
After college, Hurley was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the 1993 NBA draft. He went on to play six seasons in the NBA split between the Kings and the then-Vancouver Grizzlies. After retiring, he became a racehorse owner and breeder before being hired as a scout by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003.
The Bulls had been competitive under Witherspoon by finishing with 20 wins in three of the past five seasons. The big knock against their former coach was a failure to land an NCAA tournament berth.
Buffalo came close twice, in 2005 and ‘09, when the team lost the conference tournament championship. The Bulls did earn four postseason invites, including an NIT appearance in 2005. Witherspoon enjoyed seven winning seasons, and finished with a 198-228 record.
The team returns star forward, junior Javon McCrea, who was the MAC’s only player to rank among the top-three in conference in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage and blocked shots. He was selected to the all-conference first team for a second straight year.
White has wasted little time in changing coaches since being hired 10 months ago in taking over after Warde Manuel left for the same position at Connecticut. White hired Felisha Legette-Jack to replace Linda Hill-MacDonald, who was fired after seven years with the women’s team.
This week, wrestling coach Jim Beichner was fired after 18 years.
Hurley’s father is the longtime coach at St. Anthony in Jersey City, N.J., a state and national powerhouse that Bobby and Dan both played for. While Bobby went on to play at Duke, Dan played in the Big East at Seton Hall. Dan, too, was a high school coach in New Jersey before leaving for Wagner in 2010. When he was hired, he added Bobby to his first staff immediately.
Last season, after two years with the Seahawks, Dan took the same position at Rhode Island. Bobby, after withdrawing from consideration to replace his brother at Wagner, followed Dan and took the assistant role with the Rams.