WARWICK — Whenever a new administration takes the reins of power, the first few days can seem like a blur. In the case of Dan Hurley, the newly minted URI head coach has wasted little time in remaking the program and personnel he’s inheriting into one befitting of his image.
Monday saw Hurley conduct an early morning workout session with the Rhody players brought specifically to campus by previous coach Jim Baron. He described the proceedings as a prime chance to gather more information while simultaneously laying his cards on the table in terms of expectations moving forward.
Speaking following an appearance at the Radisson Hotel, site of the final college basketball luncheon of the 2011-12 season, Hurley touched upon a few issues beginning with the transition period involving the Ram holdovers.
“We’re starting to establish our expectations on how we’re going to work and what our pace and tempo are going to be in the gym, weight room and classroom,” Hurley said. “You evaluate at all levels. We’ve started to break down film and understand there are some young and talented players who we’re excited to work with.
“It’s got to be a total buy-in for them because this is probably the hardest thing they’ve ever done,” Hurley added.
There are several other elements of job change to keep in mind as Hurley shifts from his previous port-of-call to South County. He plans to take up residence “in either a hotel or apartment” located near URI until establishing a permanent Ocean State address. East Greenwich appears the logical choice for the Hurley clan to dock given that the town over the years has served as home to many a Rhode Island and Providence College head coach.
“We’re excited to become part of the community,” Hurley remarked.
In regards to rounding out his coaching staff, Hurley mentioned that dialogue is still ongoing with Preston Murphy, the onetime Woonsocket High boys’ basketball head coach and lone Rhode Island coach that was asked to remain onboard after Baron’s dismissal. On that front, Monday’s news of Bashir Mason succeeding Hurley as head coach at Wagner figures to go a long way in determining Murphy’s fate at Rhody.
Mason served as an assistant under Hurley and seemed to possess the inside track in terms of reuniting with his ex-boss had he not been scooped up by the Seahawks. At age 28, Mason owns the distinction as the country’s youngest Division I head coach.
“That gives me a little more clarity,” stated Hurley. “The point is to put together a great staff that allows this program to become something special.”
Hurley’s arrival at URI comes exactly one year after PC made a coaching switch to bring Ed Cooley aboard. To have two coaches roughly around the same age (Cooley is 42 while Hurley is 39) locked in at the state’s two most followed programs might be the cure-all for this intrastate rivalry, which in recent seasons has been bogged down due to on-court doldrums/lack of NCAA Tournament appearances on both sides.
“I come from the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area where it’s also been a struggle with the high level of Division I,” said Hurley, no doubt referencing the goings on pertaining to St. John’s, Seton Hall and Rutgers. “It would be incredibly exciting to have two outstanding high-level programs within a great basketball area like Rhode Island. That’s what we’re striving for.”
Clearing the air
Vincent Council appeared at the Radisson to receive the R.I. Division I Player of the Year award. Upon the program’s conclusion, the Providence junior put to rest the speculation that he was planning to forgo his senior season and apply for the NBA Draft.
“I heard the rumors that people thought I was not going to be back, but I never really thought about it,” Council said. “I want to get my degree before moving on. Also, it’s a good thing being here (at PC). We should have a good team next year.”
A couple of mock drafts have surfaced recently with Council’s name nowhere to be found. Such a scenario could change a year from now as a wave of new talent figures to serve as a boon for the Friar as it relates to elevating his draft stock. Remember, Council was a third team all-conference performer for a PC squad that had nary any options in terms of reserves, particularly at point guard.
How hard Council was forced to work stretches well beyond the 38.7 minutes he averaged this past season. In 30 games played, he sat out a grand total of 45 minutes while logging 40 or more minutes a whopping 15 times. Asked specifically about his heavy load, Council simply smiled before taking a look at what the future has in store.
“I never thought I would play that many minutes,” he stated matter-of-factly, adding that Monday was his first day back in the weight room since Providence’s season-ending loss to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament. “Moving forward, we need to focus on depth. A lot of guys got tired and couldn’t perform like they normally could. Having depth will allow us to have success.”
Choice to make
Picking a college is never easy, particularly when you’re an athlete and have multiple recruiters swooning at your feet. Roger Livramento, the Central Falls native, is discovering just how strenuous the task of weighing all available options can prove to be.
Now that his first and only season at CCRI is in the books, one that saw Livramento average a double-double in points and rebounds on a Knights’ team that advanced to the NJCAA championship game, the decision regarding which Division II or III school the 6-foot-6 combo forward ends up calling home for the next two seasons is something he’s got to think long and hard about.
“He works at a group home and does very well for himself,” said CCRI head coach Rick Harris regarding one of the factors that could determine whether Livramento attends school nearby or far away.
Regarding the 23-year-old Livramento, Harris made it clear just how old the player is to anybody who approached him about “the elder statesman” on the CCRI roster. Division II schools based in Florida and Missouri have expressed interest along with Assumption College and UMass-Lowell. A final verdict figures to come within a month’s time.
“He has a lot of opportunities, but he’s a kid who could stay local and head to [Rhode Island College],” Harris said. “This is someone who had been out of school before coming back part time … [the recruiting attention] is a big change, but he understands the value of a degree.”
Switching up the venue
There are whispers floating around regarding the venue for next season’s PC-Brown hardwood get-together. In a newfangled twist, the Pizzitola Center would serve as the backdrop, marking the first time the Bears have hosted the Friars since 1972 when Brown called Marvel Gymnasium home. Official word figures to come once both schools agree upon a date.