Coach Bob Hurley: The Sage of St. Anthony

Steve Kroft profiles the man regarded as America's best high school coach

High school basketball is one of the most popular sports in the country, and those who follow it on the national level - particularly college scouts and coaches - are familiar with St. Anthony of Jersey City, N.J. and its coach, Bob Hurley.

Going into this season, St. Anthony had won 23 state championships and three national titles under Hurley, who is one of only three high school coaches ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

In nearly 40 years at St. Anthony, Hurley has never earned more than a $9,000 annual stipend, passing up lucrative college jobs to change lives in the inner city and to help save a small struggling Catholic school by putting it on a very big stage.

One night earlier this month, 8,000 people jammed the Rutgers Athletic Center to watch what was technically the North Jersey Non-Public Class B Finals. But the game also happened to be the National High School Championship.

It featured number one ranked St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J., with the nation's top prospect Michael Gilchrist. Against one of the most storied programs in America, St. Anthony and its legendary coach, Bob Hurley, ranked number two.

Link: St. Anthony High School

"Hard work" was the mantra as St. Anthony broke the huddle, something they had been doing all year in preparation for this game.

Their practices under Hurley are famous for being among the most intense, grueling workouts in the country - at any level of the game. It's a basketball boot camp unsuited for the uncommitted or the politically correct.

"Go Josh, get him get him. Get candy ass out. Sit down softie," Hurley admonished one player.

It's the only coaching job Hurley has ever had, and lots of things have changed in the 39 years that he's been at St. Anthony. But Hurley is not one of them.

He admitted to correspondent Steve Kroft he's really "old school."

"In this day and age, I'm still one of the most demanding people that the kids are gonna come across," he told Kroft.

But this is not a story about a tyrannical coach who churns out athletes at some high school sports factory: it's about values, loyalty and commitment at a small inner city parochial school that doesn't meet anyone's idea of what a basketball powerhouse should look like.

St. Anthony is in an old brick building with no gym, in a rundown neighborhood not far from the Jersey side of the Hudson River facing New York. There are only 240 students, most of them from families living below the poverty level, who somehow manage to scrape together the $5,000 tuition.

And Sister Felicia, who runs St. Anthony, says the standards are every bit as high as Coach Hurley's.

"For the past 17 years, 100 percent of all of our seniors have been accepted into college. And we're proud of that," she told Kroft.

But all of this has been under threat for some time now: St. Anthony, like many parochial schools, is deeply in debt, and constantly struggling to keep its doors open. It has managed to succeed, so far, for one reason: "I think every school has their own particular talent and ours obviously is basketball," Sister Felicia explained.

And in some ways St. Anthony is the Julliard of high school basketball, a place where the gifted and the promising enroll to learn the finer points of positioning, technique, ball movement and endurance.

Produced by Pete Radovich Jr.

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