Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Hurricanes’ dream season came to an end in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. But even as head coach Jim Larranaga heads to the Final Four this weekend as a spectator; he’s laid the foundation for a team he hope can get to the championship soon.
Larranaga did a little bit of everything this year from pushing the Canes to a 29-7 overall record to winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship to doing the Ali shuffle after a big NCAA Tournament victory.
But for the second-year coach of the Canes, the fun came from seeing all of the hard work the team put in during the season pay off.
“It’s not the glamour that people think it is,” Larranaga said. “It’s a lot of hard work. So when they enjoy that kind of success and have that kind of enthusiasm, it warms your heart.”
Larranaga is coming off being named the AP’s Coach of the Year on Thursday. He received 29 of 65 possible first-place votes and was followed by Jim Crews of St. Louis and Mark Few of Gonzaga. Coach Larranaga took the Canes as high as number two in the country at one point in the season.
Larranaga is the first University of Miami head basketball coach to win the award and is the first ACC coach to win it since North Carolina head coach Roy Williams was selected in 2006.
But he knows that while this season was fun, there’s going to be a rebuilding phase next year. Coach Larranaga has already landed two prized recruits, but he knows that much of next season’s success will depend on whether Shane Larkin declares for the NBA Draft.
“I think Shane is a great player and I think whenever he decides to go, he’s going to be a good NBA player,” Larranaga said.
When UM first hired Larranaga, many in the school’s fan base knew little about the coach. His biggest claim to fame before UM was taking a George Mason team to the Final Four several years ago.
Since he’s been on campus, he’s quickly proven that despite the age difference, he can connect with his players and the fan base. Now, everyone knows his name, but may not always pronounce it right.
Coach Larranaga wants to do something no other head coach at UM has been able to pull off. He wants to build tradition at a school long known as a football only powerhouse. But the head coach has reached not just his own players, but also some big time names in the NBA.
Larranaga helps out with Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade’s fantasy camp. Wade and fellow Heat superstar LeBron James have been supportive of the Canes all season long, with the notable exception of when the Heat played Wade’s alma mater, Marquette University.
Still, Larranaga said while this season was fun, it’s over and it’s on to next season with the goal of not being just a flash in the pan.