The Miami Hurricanes are doing something pretty special this year. Jim Larranaga and his group of players, who are old enough to be AARP cardholders, are taking the Miami basketball team to heights it has never seen. Currently the 3rd ranked team in the country, Miami has been beating top teams in the nation all year. Not only have they been doing the unthinkable, making Hurricane hoops relevant, they’ve done so while bringing swag back to The U.
The U was originated from their football teams from the Jimmy Johnson era. Guys like Michael Irvin cared less about their public perception and more about doing what they wanted to do, win and do so at the expense of the opposing team’s mental well being. Whether it was the team coming off the airplane dressed in fatigues, guys stomping on other guys’ heads while they were down(Post-Swag era really), but still being a dominate team on the field. The U, with more than a sprinkle of swag, was a destination spot for top football prospects around the country. They embodied what a generation of kids wanted to be, the rebel.
That’s why the basketball version of The U with swag is so awesome. For years certain teams, or types of teams, have been shoved down our throat. Sure, I respect what the Duke Blue Devils are all about but I can tire of some of their players’ air of arrogance. It was this sense of, we are from Duke so we are better. While it is only a perception of SOME of the players who have gone there, it is a perception that many outside the Duke fanbase share. The U embodies the anti-Duke the way The Fab Five did so but in a different way.
The Fab Five were the anti-Duke in more of a racial way. Duke, littered with white players and, as Grant Hill has stated, black players who others thought weren’t black enough(Rob Parker must have loved the early 90s). On the other end were a bunch of players who were tough, from the inner-cities, and by all means weren’t as proper as Duke. Thankfully, the Miami anti-Duke team doesn’t have the racial overtones the Fab Five vs Duke games had, it is strictly about attitude.
Whether it has been doing the “Wojo” slap while beating the live hell out of Duke at the request of Swag U alum Warren Sapp or Shane Larkin rewarding a big man for running the court by throwing an ally-oop off the backboard(Also up huge) against the North Carolina Tar Heels, The U has been winning games with style. And you know what, they don’t care if you don’t like it.
In fact, their coach Jim Larranaga, defends them in every way he can. He claimed Larkin was rewarding his big man for hustling and the “Wojo” slap was done out of a sign of respect for Duke, and maybe it is even true, but it still doesn’t mean it is not awesome.
Larranaga is also going through a rebirth as a coach since he has joined Miami. Now shirts are being made with “40 Minutes of L” on it, adding to this team’s lore. Many folks thought he was going there for one final payday before he rode off into the sunset, and we were wrong. For someone who has been around the college basketball world as long as Larranaga has, his move to Miami was a new challenge for him, not a payday, that he is far surpassing expectations that were set when he took over.
Miami’s roster is filled with seniors, an old coach in Larranaga, and a track record for losing. Somehow, despite all of those negative things, Larranaga has taken players that weren’t any good before, gave them an identity(The U, with sprinkles of swag), and now they are off fighting for a number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Miami might become a destination spot for top recruits thanks to this re-branding of an already used Hurricanes motto. Selfishly, I hope it works and they continue playing this brand of hoops as long as humanly possible. However, even if they don’t, this season has been a lot of fun thanks to The U.
Regardless if it is just Miami, or The U, or The U sprinkled with some swag(TUSWSS), this team is a great watch. There will be a certain group of people in the country who like the Dukes of the world and a certain group of people who like their teams with a little bit of rebellious arrogance. We can only hope that these two teams meet in the ACC Tournament and again in the NCAA Tournament, as it will add another depth of storylines to an already entertaining ACC season.
I just wonder if the nation is ready for 40 minutes of L, from The U, sprinkled with a little big of swag. Man, Miami has a lot of monikers and almost none of it has to deal with the Hurricane nickname.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports who primarily covers the Catholic Seven. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone