The No. 2 seeded Miami Hurricanes will begin NCAA Tournament play on Friday, March 22, against the Pacific Tigers of the Big West conference. Tune in at 2:10 p.m. on TNT to see if the Hurricanes can continue their storybook season.
In just his second year at Miami, men’s head basketball coach Jim Larranaga has led the program into a realm that it has never been before. Their stellar season has consisted of a program best No. 2 national ranking, an ACC regular-season title, as well as an ACC Tournament sweep – with arguably the most talented Miami team ever assembled.
The Hurricanes list five seniors and four juniors. Certainly, veteran leadership isn’t lacking with the current squad. Sophomore G Shane Larkin was voted ACC Player of the Year, while G Durand Scott was selected as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Larranaga earned ACC Coach of the Year honors and has been selected as a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year.
Impressive to say the least, but the above accolades are meaningless, at least in regards to winning the NCAA Tournament. Don’t get me wrong, the awards are pretty and all, but Miami has experience on their side, which in my opinion is the most important of it all. They have that senior leadership. They have a point guard who some say is the best in the nation. They have the height and speed. But above all, Miami has a coach who has climbed through the ranks of the NCAA Tournament.
Jim Larranaga doesn’t lack motivation. He gets the best out of his players, whether at Miami or at George Mason. Larranaga knows what it takes to advance through the rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Miami’s skipper spent 14 seasons at George Mason leading the program to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including a 2006 Final Four run, in which he went through Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and UConn.
However, can Larranaga take Miami to the Final Four? Better yet, what is considered a successful season for this current Miami Hurricanes team?
Only time will tell. In the meanwhile, Larranaga told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
That is a little bit striking that (George Mason) has great senior leadership, older guys. I think that combination of youthful enthusiasm and optimism with experience and size and toughness, those teams (Miami and George Mason) are similar.”