Jim Larrañaga: the heart of Hurricanes basketball

Head coach Jim Larranaga celebrates Miami's win over IUP on Oct. 30 in the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

As Miami men’s basketball head coach Jim Larrañaga was being introduced as a new inductee into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame at a Miami press conference, there was silence. Larrañaga immediately replied with a joke.

“You didn’t even clap! It’s a pretty big deal! How many of you are in the Hall of Fame,” Larrañaga said.

Laughter followed from all who were in attendance and the press conference went underway.

Larrañaga provides some funny moments for the players, media and fans alike. Multiple videos of the head coach have gone internet viral of him dancing in the locker room after big time wins.

When it comes to basketball itself, he does not joke around.

Numbers only tell half the story. Larrañaga has the most wins of any coach in the program’s history with 367 in the 11 seasons that he has coached so far. He is a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coach of the Year recipient (2013 & 2016), Associated Press Coach of the Year (2013) and he brought the ‘Canes their first ACC title ever in 2013.

“Always full of energy and really hungry to win all the time. He’s just a winner,” guard Filippos Gkogkos said about Larrañaga. “Every single thought that he has about basketball is how to win. He strategizes a lot, viewing the game like a game of chess: make the best move on the chess board.”

That mentality l has brought his team recent success and it is a reason for why the head coach is going to be inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. Past success, however, is not something that Larrañaga dwells on.

“Very very excited about being selected, but my focus right now is preparing our team for the upcoming season,” Larrañaga said.

After coming off the best National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament finish in program history last season by reaching the Elite Eight, the Hurricanes added to their roster tremendously. High profile transfers in point guard Nijel Pack and forward Norchad Omier, joined the squad in the offseason. They were sold on the idea that they can compete for a championship and can grow into some of the best players in the country under Larrañaga, who believes that this team is one of the most competitive he has ever coached at Miami.

“I haven’t felt this good about a team since 2012-2013,” Larrañaga said.

Additionally, Larrañaga has shown a side of himself with his players that makes them appreciate him as a coach.

“He’s such a wonderful character. I like listening to him speak. Everything he says to me and the team I try to take in because he wants to see us all win and I appreciate him being my coach,” sophomore point guard Bensley Joseph said.

Larrañaga has even shown that he is patient with player development and that every single player on the squad has importance to him.

“He’s a very patient coach,” freshman center Favour Aire said. “He’s not rushing us to adapt fast or making certain qualities or skills necessary. It’s a quality that I respect a lot.”

Not only does Larrañaga express his character to the team, but he also shows it to the rest of the university.

Whether attending a Miami baseball game or lecturing to students in classes, his presence at that moment commands the attention of all in his vicinity. He shows kindness to all people that come up to him and has a big smile on his face when doing so.

Larrañaga has proven to be a prominent figure within the totality of the University of Miami.

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