Summer 2024

Coach Dan Hurley leads No. 1 UConn with foundation on his 'faith in Jesus Christ'

Let the madness begin.

The 68-team field is set for the 2024 men’s basketball NCAA Tournament and defending national champion UConn was tabbed as the No. 1 overall seed, marking the first time in program history that the Connecticut men are No. 1 overall. Houston, Purdue and North Carolina were also given No. 1 seeds Sunday during the NCAA Tournament selection show.

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After cruising to the Big East Tournament title with a 73-57 win over Marquette on Saturday, UConn ran its overall record to 31-3. The Huskies have won seven in a row, finished 7-2 against teams in the Associated Press top 25 this season, and will begin their title defense against Stetson — which is making its NCAA Tournament debut — on Friday in Brooklyn.

As a No. 4 seed last year, the Huskies collected the fifth national title in program history and dominated along the way. They won their six tournament games by an average of 20.0 points and became the first team to ever win all six games by 13 or more points.

They may have had a better regular season this year, but now they face the pressure of repeating last year’s performance. The last school to repeat as men’s national champion was Florida in 2006 and ’07.

UConn head coach Dan Hurley believes his team can do it.

“We’ve been the best team in college basketball,” Hurley said Saturday. “Obviously, March Madness next week, who knows what goes on there, but we’ve clearly been the best program in the country this year.”

Hurley, a fiery competitor who’s always been one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, took over the program in 2018 after six seasons leading Rhode Island, which he took to the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and ’18. UConn missed the tournament those seasons and fired head coach Kevin Ollie amid an NCAA investigation.

The Huskies again missed the NCAA Tournament in Hurley’s first two seasons, but they’ve steadily improved each year since and have now reached the Big Dance each of the past four seasons. With three more wins, this year’s squad could match the program record for victories (34 in 1998-99).

Hurley says he’s able to handle anything that comes his way with his high-pressure job because of his foundation of faith.

“My foundation is super strong,” Hurley said on the “The Ed Mylett Show” last August. “My foundation starts with my faith — my faith in Jesus Christ. … That foundation that I have at home and my faith, like I can handle anything that comes with this job — the criticism, the losing, the going through tough stretches. I am built to handle everything that comes with this job because of my background, my foundation.”

Hurley continued to say that even as recently as when he was with Rhode Island, he didn’t follow a set routine to help him prepare for the day. But a conversation with former Florida and current Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan (the coach who led the Gators to back-to-back national championships) helped him to develop a morning routine. Hurley began going to bed earlier so he could get up by 6 a.m., and he’s chosen to spend those early hours with God.

“Your spiritual readings and your prayer, your meditation practice,” Hurley said while detailing what his mornings look like. “For me, my journaling, whether it’s free writing or gratitude journaling.”

Hurley will continue to follow his routine and lean on his foundation of faith in Christ as the spotlight grows brighter on him and his team this week. The Huskies will face Stetson at 2:45 p.m. ET Friday. The winner will face Florida Atlantic or Northwestern.

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