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HOUSTON — Often following a San Diego State basketball game, team sports information director Richard Stern will ask Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher if he wants the "book" as Dutcher prepares for his postgame media interviews.

The "book" is a collection of stapled-together papers that typically includes a full-game box score, individual half box scores and a full play-by-play breakdown of what transpired during the game.

"And I say, 'No, Richard, I can go back and watch the tape'," Dutcher said. 

But the exchanges help put Dutcher's journey to a national title showdown with UConn on Monday into perspective. He and Huskies coach Dan Hurley the sons of longtime coaches, and their treks to college basketball's biggest stage are multi-generational journeys that started decades ago with their fathers establishing themselves on the game's humbler rungs.

"I remember my dad, they didn't have tape back then," Dutcher said, recalling that his father would, in fact, peruse "the book" after games during his three decades in college coaching.

"You couldn't watch the game right away," Dutcher said. "You would open that book and go 'Here, they were on a 6-0 run and this happened and this happened.' It was a whole different era."

San Diego State's Brian Dutcher, left, and former Minnesota coach Jim Dutcher Getty Images

Dutcher grew up watching his dad patrol the sidelines at Alpena Community College on the banks of Michigan's Lake Huron before he landed at Eastern Michigan and eventually as the coach at Minnesota for 11 years.

Now 89, Jim Dutcher missed the Aztecs' buzzer-beating win over FAU on Sunday night after heavy snowfall hit Minneapolis and forced a change in flight plans, but the plan is for Jim to be in attendance Monday night for the title game against the Huskies.

Somewhere else inside the cavernous NRG Stadium will be Bob Hurley. Now 75, the elder Hurley retired in 2017 after a legendary 45-year year career at St. Anthony High School in New Jersey. He was a 2010 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

"Everything is second nature to me and Brian," Dan Hurley said of his coaching counterpart for the national title game. "Just having been in locker rooms our whole lives and practices and postgame after great wins and tough losses. I think both of our careers to this point, they're parallel." 

After playing at Seton Hall, the younger Hurley began his coaching career as a high school assistant under his father, then worked on the Rutgers staff for four years before spending nearly a decade leading St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey.

"Some of the best coaches in our sport are at the high school level," Hurley said.

UConn's Dan Hurley, left and former St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley Getty Images

Dutcher's father, who employed him as a student assistant at Minnesota, connected him with his first job in the profession on Lou Henson's Illinois staff in 1983. Henson and the elder Dutcher had developed a relationship over the years by speaking at each other's summer camps.

"I would pick Lou up when I was in college and drive him to Northfield, Minnesota ... and I got to know Lou," Dutcher said. "When I graduated college and I was looking for a grad assistant position, Lou Henson hired me. It showed the quality of character he had that he's hiring the son of a rival of Big Ten school's coach's son. He didn't worry about it. He didn't care about that."

Jim Dutcher enjoyed high-level national success at Eastern Michigan in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but that was prior to the program's transition to Division I. His Minnesota program made it to the Sweet 16 in 1982 but never further. Bob Hurley is arguably the most legendary coach in high school basketball history with a trophy case to rival that of any coach. But he never made the jump to college basketball.

Neither father ever took a stage with a fraction of the spotlight that their sons will enjoy on Monday. But it's because of the foundations they laid that their namesakes are one victory away from hoisting a national championship trophy.

Hurley said his earliest basketball memories were idolizing his father's high school players and feeling the heartbreak of a loss to fellow New Jersey high school power Hudson Catholic.

Similarly, Dutcher grew up in the small-college gyms of towns like Alpen and Ypsilanti, Michigan, seeing the game at an organic and unglamorous level.

"Just so much respect for coaching against somebody like that for a national championship," Hurley said. "I think it's fitting for both of us, with our backgrounds, to be meeting in this game."

Though only one will be standing on a ladder cutting down the net Monday night, both Dutcher and Hurley will be standing on the shoulders of their fathers as they battle from opposing benches during the final 40 minutes of the 2022-23 season. For the winner, it may even be worth saving a copy of "the book" to commemorate the journey it took to reach the sport's ultimate stage.

"I always say my dad's era of coaches, they were way better coaches than we were," Dutcher said, "because they didn't have all this film and they didn't have all this stuff."