Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 14 Coach Countdown of the 2016-17 season. We like to rank the players of the A-10 each season, but we’d also like to take a look at the brains of the operations. Who were the best coaches of the 2016-17 season? Who were the worst? Our site voted and compiled a list based on last season alone. This list is representative of how well each coach performed in the 2016-17 season, not in his entire career. Today, we feature #2 Dan Hurley from the Rhode Island Rams.
1. November 19, 2016 vs. Cincinnati
This was the first sign that these Rams were for real and they would in fact compete for the conference title and an eventual berth into the NCAA tournament. Coach Hurley pushed his team to rally back from a 12-point first-half deficit, even without the services of Jarvis Garrett, who suffered a neck injury right before halftime. With Hassan Martin living in foul trouble throughout the afternoon, the head coach boldly turned to freshman, Cyril Langevine and he reaped the rewards. With the game hanging in the balance, E.C. Matthews hit two game-sealing shots for his team after Hurley drew up two plays with #0 being the primary target for the shot.
2. The Entire Atlantic 10 Tournament
Dan Hurley led the Rhode Island to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999 after winning the Atlantic 10 tournament. In their quarterfinal matchup, Saint Bonaventure’s Matt Mobley was held in check, scoring just 8 points (and all from the charity stripe). Rhode Island’s defense prevailed in their first matchup of the tournament, as they held the Bonnies to an overall shooting percentage of 38.6% and a three-point percentage of 25%. Moving into the semifinals in Pittsburgh, PA, Hurley’s team dominated the Davidson Wildcats from start to finish and was able to bring their walk-ons onto the floor before the conclusion of the game. In their 84-60 drubbing over the Wildcats, Davidson’s star, Jack Gibbs, scored his 17 points on an inefficient 4-12 shooting afternoon. Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s semifinal opposition swished through only 5 of their 21 attempted three-point jumpers. Lastly, in the Atlantic 10 championship game, Dan Hurley’s team burst out of the gates with a 27-12 lead and eventually closed out the game, 70-63, even when VCU stormed back in the final minutes. By winning the conference title and clinching the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament berth, Dan Hurley showed his value to the Rhode Island basketball program.
3. March 17, 2017 vs. Creighton
Coach Hurley’s veteran team handled the Creighton Bluejays pretty easily in the first round of March Madness and continue to rebirth the basketball program. Aside from managing the lineups on the floor, Hurley was able to be as animated as he wanted to be on the sidelines without too much worry for his team’s on-court production because his team excelled in Sacramento, CA. Without Maurice Watson on the floor, Dan Hurley and his coaching staff keyed in on the likes of Marcus Foster and Justin Patton. Creighton did not even score in the first 4 minutes and 48 seconds of the affair. Moreover, the Bluejays shot just 40% from the field as a team and they turned the ball over 11 times.
1. December 3, 2016 at Providence
The narrative continues that Dan Hurley cannot beat Ed Cooley because yet again, the Rhode Island Rams lost to in-state rivals, the Providence Friars. Despite a 35-29 halftime lead and a dominate performance by Hassan Martin throughout, the Rams allowed Kyron Cartwright to catch fire in the second half and lead the Friars to a 63-60 comeback victory. It remains to be seen if Hurley can overcome his obstacle of trying to defeat Cooley and the Friars next season.
2. January 12, 2017 vs. LaSalle
Losing at home in the Ryan Center in the fourth conference game of the 2016-2017 season was a despicable sight for a team with so much preseason hype. The Explorers were beating the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team so badly that Dan Hurley benched his entire starting lineup for the large majority of the second half. Luckily, this embarrassing showing by the team and the inevitable benching helped to show this team that changes needed to be made.
3. February 15, 2017 vs. Fordham
Coming right off of a heartbreaking last minute loss at home to Dayton, the Rhode Island Rams inexplicably had their hearts pulled out in a home loss to the Fordham Rams. Dan Hurley’s team shot a pitiful 30.4% from the floor, while turning the ball over 14 times. Outside of Hassan Martin, the other four starters combined for an underwhelming 15 points and Dan Hurley had no answers for the media in the postgame conference. Although this was the worst moment of the 2016-2017 season, the Rhode Island men’s basketball team truly turned a corner after the defeat, winning their next 9 games in a row.
Heading into next season, the Rhode Island Rams should be the favorite in the Atlantic 10. Dan Hurley’s team returns one of the best groups of veteran guards in the country. Plus, Daron “Fatts” Russell is the lone class of 2017 recruit that will help the backcourt even more. In addition, Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine have the potential to be breakout stars in their second seasons. Dan Hurley could very well have another preseason Top-25 team on his hands that can repeat or surpass their success from the 2016-2017 season.
Previously: #3 Chris Mooney