Hurley, provoked by fan, hit with T in UConn win

NEW YORK — UConn coach Dan Hurley got heated about a fan again Friday night.

Moments after St. John’s counterpart Rick Pitino received a technical foul for shouting at officials in the Big East semifinals, Hurley was whistled for one during the same stoppage in play.

With his father, Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley Sr., sitting in the front row right behind him, Dan Hurley called for security to eject a fan from a choice seat nearby at sold-out Madison Square Garden.

“Obviously, the place was in a frenzy when Coach got his,” Hurley said. “And then there was a guy — there was a short guy in a red blazer that was on the court yelling at the refs, and then he started yelling at me and moving in my direction. So I was just kind of pointing out to [referee James Breeding] that he was behaving worse than Coach Pitino.

“I was really just trying to help the officials. They might not have seen it. And then I got a technical for pointing out more increasingly aggressive fans. At courtside, you shouldn’t end up on the court.”

Hurley said the fan was cursing a lot, but the UConn coach said he later told ushers he didn’t want the man thrown out.

“I kept him in. They were going to eject him from the game. I went over there to tell the ushers I wanted him to stay — not because I thought he was a good guy. I thought it might be bad luck,” Hurley said, drawing laughs. “Karma.”

The St. John’s fan, Tom O’Grady, said he didn’t say anything to Hurley and that all he did was tell the official Hurley was out of the coaching box, the New York Post reported.

“Yeah, that guy’s a straight shooter,” Hurley said, dripping with sarcasm.

The exchange came six days after Hurley spent much of the final minute of his team’s 74-60 victory at Providence jawing with a Friars fan in the second row. The coach of the defending NCAA champions also waved his arms to encourage the considerable contingent of fans rooting for the road team, then left the court with both index fingers raised in the air.

“I just told him, ‘I’ve got a national championship ring, and we won the regular season in the Big East, and we’re champions,'” Hurley said after that game. “‘And you should shut up, and you shouldn’t be running your mouth at that point in the game. You know, just get out of here. You know? Just go.'”

Always a demonstrative shouter, not unlike many college basketball coaches, Hurley was fired up on the sideline throughout second-ranked UConn’s 95-90 victory over St. John’s. But star guards Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer thought it was nothing out of the ordinary.

“Honestly, today, I thought he was a little more calm,” Newton said.

Hurley said he reset himself at halftime by doing a 3-minute meditation on his Calm app.

“I’m probably now the boy who cried wolf because of last game. But I promise you if we play Marquette tomorrow night, there will be no incident because those people are incredibly classy fans and we have incredible respect for them,” Hurley said.

Marquette defeated Providence 79-68 in the second Big East semifinal to earn a spot in the title game against UConn.

As for the 71-year-old Pitino, he made light of the technical he received at the 8:16 mark of the first half for arguing a foul call on St. John’s center Joel Soriano.

“I haven’t had a technical in a long, long time. I was really looking forward to that moment,” Pitino deadpanned, adding that his display was contrived because he thought things weren’t going the Red Storm’s way.

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