Who is Dan Hurley? 5 things to know about the UConn men's basketball coach after spending a day with him.

Photo of Mike Anthony

Are you curious what a day behind the scenes with Dan Hurley and the UConn men’s basketball program is like?

We certainly were. Hearst Connecticut Media was granted access to long portions of Hurley’s workday on Wednesday, June 9, the first day that the entire 2021-22 Huskies gathered for a team workout.

Hearst Connecticut was permitted to shadow Hurley through meetings, a practice and more, even his introduction to Samson Johnson, the freshman who arrived to meet coaches for the first time.

What emerged was a picture of how Hurley operates, what drives him, and how he finds balance in life with calming morning routines that set the tone for every intense day of work.

He loves George Brett

Hurley was drawn to Brett by the infamous 1983 Pine Tar Incident, when Brett stormed out of the dugout in one of baseball's funniest and most furious tirades. Hurley imitated Brett's batting stance in his office, pushing his tongue to his cheek to create the look of Brett with a wad of tobacco. “A lot of people see the connection, my loving that moment,” Hurley said.

He's relentless in the way he pushes players and coaches

Hurley told Samson Johnson this upon Johnson's arrival on June 9. "The practices are going to be very, very intense and fast-paced. We're going to push you, push you and push you. So these guys do come into the first practices like, ‘Oh, shoot, not only is this college but we already know this guy is a maniac.’" He spoke to Johnson before the first full practice and said, “Some days you're going to get your ass kicked. Some days you're going to kick someone’s ass. Make sure you learn. Learn, compete.”

His morning routine is essential to his life balance

Hurley wakes up every day at 6 a.m. and almost always eats blueberries and raspberries for breakfast. He prays, meditates and works out before arriving in the office around 8:15. In Storrs, he uses a sauna and takes a cold shower in the locker room, then writes in a journal and reads in his office - where candles and an aromatherapy machine sets the mood. It's all part of his "mental and spiritual priming" for a day's work.

UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley leads a meeting with assistant coaches before practice at the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center on the UConn main campus in Storrs, Conn. Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley leads a meeting with assistant coaches before practice at the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center on the UConn main campus in Storrs, Conn. Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

His relationships with players become deeply personal

A large picture of Hurley with Christian Vital hangs in Hurley's office, a reminder that it is important not to give up on relationships. That one started rocky and became special. The headband worn by Rhode Island guard E.C. Matthews when he tore his ACL in the 2015-16 opener is also on display in Hurley's office, a reminder of the bond coaches and players share and what they accomplish and go through together.

UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley looks at a photo in his office from a game against Syracuse before practice at the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center on the UConn main campus in Storrs, Conn. Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

UConn men's basketball coach Dan Hurley looks at a photo in his office from a game against Syracuse before practice at the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center on the UConn main campus in Storrs, Conn. Wednesday, June 9, 2021.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

The job gets all of him

“Not like 80 percent.” It's always been this way, as the son of Bob Hurley Sr. and the younger brother of Bobby Hurley. He's incredibly driven, even obsessed. “I came here with very, very high expectations for what I want to accomplish over the next 12 years or so,” Hurley said. “I'm going to go all gas, no brakes, until I get there.”