Hurley: New Mission will 'really challenge us'

SOUTH BOSTON, Mass. -- Somewhere around 8 this morning at the Boston Athletic Club, a gang of old-timers finished their pickup game, giving way to a familiar-looking old face and a group of Boston-area high school ballers.

And suddenly, heads turned, and they started to whisper precariously, "Is that Bobby Hurley's dad?", or "Was that the guy on 60 Minutes?"

Yes indeed, it was legendary St. Anthony's head coach and Naismith Hall of Famer Bob Hurley entertaining a dozen local high schoolers, as patrons looked on from their treadmills. Hurley has been here all week running a youth basketball camp at Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, and this morning at the BAC he worked out a select group of high schoolers involved with Shooting Touch, Inc., a Boston-based nonprofit of which he serves on the Board of Directors.

Former Newton North forward and Winchendon post-graduate Tevin Falzon was among the notables in the crowd, which included players from Catholic Memorial, Stoughton and BC High.

Before stepping on the court for some 2-1/2 hours, Hurley spoke with ESPNBoston.com about the allure of visiting Massachusetts year after year, starting when the Friars first started playing New Bedford back in the early 90's. Last year, the Friars came to Newton North High School to take on the Tigers as well as Catholic Memorial, and then visited Springfield three weeks later to take on Maryland power DeMatha Catholic in the Hoophall Classic. Most memorably, St. Anthony point guard Myles Mack outscored the Stags by himself (28 points) in a 75-25 victory on national television.

For Hurley, the speed of the game is one of the attractions to playing up here -- New Jersey doesn't have a shot clock, while the MIAA's is 30 seconds. And year after the year, he finds the hospitality consistently good.

"It's a doable trip for us. It's four hours, so you can bus the kids up," he said. "The hospitality every time we've been up, whether it's Boston or Springfield, has been tremendous. And we've always been able to play competitive games, and the games are always helpful, but the team bonding thing of taking kids away for a few days at Christmas, is very helpful. You go back, you've made some progress as a group that you just can't get at home."

Late this December, over the holiday break, the Friars will be returning to Boston to take on defending MIAA Division 2 state champion New Mission as part of the "Shooting Touch Shootout" at the Kroc Center in Dorchester. Of the Titans, Hurley looks forward to what he feels will be a competitive foe.

Ironically enough, New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy was awarded the inaugural Bob Hurley Sr. Excellence in Coaching Award, at Reebok headquarters in Canton.

"Met coach last year, I know that they have become Boston's best the last couple of years now," he said. "And it'll be a good game for us during the holidays, to really challenge us."