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The University at Buffalo positioned itself for a marketing victory this evening by announcing former Duke great Bobby Hurley as its new basketball coach. Hurley replaces Reggie Witherspoon, who was dismissed March 15 after 14 years on the job.

It’s an intriguing hire in that Hurley is part of one of the most renowned basketball families in the country. At the same time, he never has been a head coach, only returned to the basketball scene three years ago and declined a lower level head job at the end of last season.

Hurley, one of the most distinguished players in the illustrious history of Duke basketball, spent the last three seasons as an assistant/associate head coach for his brother Danny. The two were together for two seasons at Wagner College, and Bobby turned down the head job with the Seahawks when Danny accepted the head job at Rhode Island, replacing current Canisius coach Jim Baron. Instead, Bobby followed his brother and spent this last season as associate head coach with the Rams. Rhode Island went 8-21 and 3-13 in the Atlantic 10.

“After reviewing a large and highly qualified national pool and following my conversations with some of the most respected figures in college athletics, Coach Hurley was clearly the choice to lead the next era of UB basketball,” Athletic Director Danny White said in a news release.

Hurley, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Hurley – the coach of St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, N.J. – has ties to Western New York in the personage of Nichols graduate Christian Laettner. The two were teammates on the Duke team that went to three Final Fours and won back-to-back national titles beginning in 1991.

Hurley was selected seventh overall by Sacramento in the 1993 NBA draft but had his early career derailed by a car accident that inflicted life-threatening injuries. He missed the final four months of his rookie season but returned the following year and played another four seasons.

Following his NBA career, Hurley immersed himself in thoroughbred horse racing.

email: bdicesare@buffnews.com