Big East Report: Hurley Working on Mack's Defense | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / July 9.
  • Big East Report: Hurley Working on Mack’s Defense

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    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The good news for Rutgers basketball fans concerning incoming point guard Myles Mack is twofold.

    First, St. Anthony head coach Bob Hurley sees some parallels between Mack and his older son, Bobby, who led Duke to back-to-back NCAA titles in the early 1990s.

    And second, the elder Hurley, a Naismith Hall of Famer, will be Mack’s coach for his senior season.

    “When Bobby knew he was going to go play at Duke University, he hadn’t guarded anybody until he was a senior,” Hurley said. “We always used to give him somebody else to guard and we’d have somebody else take the tougher guy. Myles┬áis in basically the same position so it’s up to him now to spend this whole year working defensively. The other skills are there. He’s an excellent offensive player.”

    The 5-foot-10, 157-pound Mack, who enrolled at St. Anthony after Paterson Catholic closed in June, is part of a seven-member recruiting class headed to Rutgers next season.

    “I chose Rutgers because it’s close to home and my family gets to see me play,” Mack said. “It’s going to be a great time there.”

    Hurley said Rutgers coach Mike Rice specifically asked him to work on Mack’s defensive skills this season.

    “Yes, Mike really wants him to be a better defender,” said Hurley, who is closing in on his 1,000th career victory and whose team faces Mount Vernon Jan 28 in the first round of the SNY Invitational at LIU-Brooklyn. “We’ve been working on it and I think he’s making pretty good progress. He’s never really been asked before to try to be a dominant defender. He’s been asked to just play defense.”

    And if anybody will teach that, it’s Hurley, the winner of 23 state titles and nine New Jersey Tournament of Champions crowns.

    Perhaps unwittingly, Mack said Hurley, 62, has been coaching the game of basketball “for centuries.”

    “Hurley gets me better on defense and gets me to be more vocal,” Mack said.

    Mack will enter Rutgers in 2011 with a Top 10 class that includes his former Paterson Catholic teammate Derrick Randall, current CJEOTO and former Rice big man Kadeem Jack and Boys & Girls shooting guard Mike Taylor.

    Rice and Boys & Girls will also square off in the SNY Invitational, so Big East fans can catch both Mack and Taylor — as well as West Virginia-bound point guard Jabarie Hinds of Mount Vernon and Cincinnati-bound wing Jermaine Sanders of Rice.

    “We just bring a lot of loyalty,” Mack said of the Rutgers group. “We know each other. We’re going to build a great bond when we get there.”

    Asked if the Scarlet Knights would make the NCAA tournament on his watch, Mack said, “Yes, I think one or two years.”

    After a year under Coach Hurley, Mack should be more prepared than ever to make that happen.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.