Jim Larranaga became a household name in 2006, when he led George Mason to the Final Four with wins over Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut.
Since coming to Miami in 2011, though, Larranaga’s profile has only risen. He’s led the Hurricanes to an ACC championship, an ACC Tournament championship and their second Sweet 16 in four seasons.
There’s no denying what the 66-year-old’s No. 1 asset as a head coach is, either.
“Energy,” play-by-play voice Ian Eagle said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “He just has this boundless energy in the way he goes about his business, the way he connects with players, the way he bridges generation gaps. He’s got a youthful soul. His methods have worked. He’s a guy who will dance in the locker room. He’s a guy that will put a DVD in of Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. He’ll give his team pop quizzes – not just on the plays they’re trying to run or where they rank nationally in categories, but pop-culture quizzes and how it connects with the program. So he’s unified that team and that university.”
Indeed, Miami sold out its home games this season for the first time in program history.
“That is because of Jim Larranaga,” Eagle said. “He’s a basketball lifer. Molloy High School in Queens, Providence College and then a long coercing career, from the head-coaching job at Bowling Green and George Mason and the Final Four run 10 years ago. This was really the perfect storm for the Miami program and for him.”
Miami beat Buffalo and Wichita State by seven and eight points, respectively, to advance to the Sweet 16. The No. 3 Hurricanes (27-7) will face No. 2 Villanova (31-5) this Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET.
If victorious, they play the winner of No. 1 Kansas versus No. 5 Maryland in the Elite Eight.
“Give him a lot of credit,” Eagle said. “They’re going to be challenged moving forward. And (as far as) sustaining (their success), he has hit the jackpot on transfers – and that’s just not going to happen every year. (Angel) Rodriguez, (Sheldon) McClellan, and (Kamari) Murphy all came from Big 12 schools and all of them have been impact performers for this program.”