The Miami (FL) Hurricanes have had their best season ever in college basketball. For the first time in school history, Miami won the regular season ACC Championship. Head coach Jim Larranaga deserves a great deal of credit for what his team has accomplished this season. Due to this success, he was crowned the ACC’s Coach of the Year for the 2012-2013 basketball season.
Some people may downplay Larranaga’s accomplishments this season by stating that he did not recruit a lot of his current players. There are only four players on Miami’s current roster who were his recruits. Frank Haith, the current head coach of the Missouri Tigers, recruited several of Miami’s key players, including Durand Scott, Julian Gamble, Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson, Trey McKinney-Jones and several others.
Although this may be true, this type of rhetoric does not hold a great deal of substance. Larranaga still had to coach these guys how to play as a team. Moreover, success was not given to him, it was earned. Prior to this season, not too many people would assume that Miami could and would sweep the North Carolina Tar Heels during the regular season and whip the Duke Blue Devils by over 25 points at home.
Larranaga has a history of being successful as a basketball coach. He was an assistant coach for the Virginia Cavaliers from 1979 to 1986. During this time, Virginia went to two Final Fours in 1981 and 1984. After Virginia, he coached the Bowling Green Falcons. During his time there, he became the second winningest coach in school history and one of the winningest coaches in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
In 2006, Larranaga was the head coach for the Cinderella team of the NCAA Tournament, the George Mason Patriots. George Mason upset North Carolina and the Connecticut Huskies on their way to their first Final Four appearance ever. Prior to leaving George Mason, he became their all-time winningest basketball coach. He also holds this record for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference.
Give Larranaga his overdue respect for what he has accomplished this season. It was not luck. Hard work and excellent coaching gave rise to Miami’s successful season. He deserves this 15 minutes of fame and so does Miami. On a bigger scale, he deserves to be the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award winner as well.