WEST ORANGE, N.J. — When your name is Bob Hurley and your program is called St. Anthony, it seems that every year brings another milestone.
This year is no exception.
Having won their 66th consecutive game Sunday with a 64-28 victory over Neptune at the Tip-Off Hoop Group Showcase, the Friars will now seek to set a modern-day New Jersey record of 67 straight wins when they play Newark Central Thursday night.
Ironically, St. Anthony is seeking to break its own record of 66 straight wins set under Hurley from 1995-7.
The Passaic “Wonder Teams” under Ernest “Prof” Blood won 159 consecutive games from 1919-25.
“I haven’t given this thing one second of thought,” said Hurley, the Naismith Hall of Famer who has won back-to-back New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles and 12 overall. “That is something that’s not coming up.
“If we were to win 80 in a row it won’t come up because this group has 26 games to kind of figure out what we’re good at and the last time I checked the 65-games prior to this Myles Mack, Lucious Jones, Jerome Frink, Kyle Anderson, there’s a lot of guys who I think their fingerprints would be on that more than this group I have here.”
Mack and Anderson enrolled at St. Anthony in 2010 after Paterson Catholic closed its doors for financial reasons. The duo helped St. Anthony go 33-0 and win the first of back-to-back Tournament of Champions titles in 2011 before Mack went off to Rutgers. Last season, Anderson led the Friars to a 32-0 mark before he landed at UCLA.
Now, Temple signee Josh Brown and Oregon State signee Hallice Cooke are the leaders of the current team.
Playing in front of Temple coach Fran Dunphy, Brown had 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in the win over Neptune, and Cooke added eight points.
“[Brown] has seen Myles Mack and he’s seen Lucious Jones two years ago and he’s seen Kyle Anderson and Jerome Frinke last year,” Hurley said. “You have to lead in your own way. Some guys have those outgoing personalities, some guys are quiet like Jerome Frink.
“So Josh is gotta right now because he’s a point [guard], he’s gotta be a little more vocal than maybe some of those guys. But I know he’s excited because the supporting group around him is very good and some of these younger guys around him, Jagen Mosely, has real good potential.” Mosely is the first freshman to start at St. Anthony since Elijah Ingram, Hurley said.
“Once they get their varsity leges, the older kids can lead and they don’t have to dominate the numbers,” Hurley said.
Brown knows he must take on a bigger role as he leads the team in the post-Kyle Anderson Era.
“I have a bigger role this year and I’m embracing it,” Brown said. “But it’s not just me, it’s not just Hallice, it’s a team sport. And we all just come together and at the end of the day we just want to get the victory.”
Next year, Brown is headed to an imploding Big East Conference where it is unclear who Temple will be facing in future years. With the seven Catholic schools having announced their plans to withdraw, Temple could end up with UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida as their only remaining Big East rivals.
“I’m just doing what I love to do, is play basketball,” Brown said. “Any conference, I’m going out there to just work hard, keep working on my game every day and reach my potential.”
Asked if wanted to face Georgetown and New Jersey native Reggie Cameron after the Catholics leave, Brown said, “I want to play against the best of the best, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Next year, Brown will join a Temple team that will also include Will Cummings and possibly Rysheed Jordan in the backcourt. Jordan is down to Temple, St. John’s and UCLA and will sign in the spring.
“I’m a team guy so I think it’s all going to work out,” Brown said. “We all play hard, we all got one goal and that’s winning so I think it will work tremendously.”
In the meantime, one more win at the high school level and Brown and his St. Anthony teammates will make modern-day New Jersey history.