Jim Larrañaga

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Jim Larrañaga
Jim Larrañaga 2014 cropped.jpg
Larrañaga in 2014
Current position
TitleHead coach
TeamMiami (FL)
Record232–142 (.620)
Biographical details
Born (1949-10-02) October 2, 1949 (age 73)
Bronx, New York
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1971–1976Davidson (assistant)
1977–1979American International
1979–1986Virginia (assistant)
1986–1997Bowling Green
1997–2011George Mason
2011–presentMiami (FL)
Head coaching record
Overall702–476 (.596)
Tournaments12–10 (NCAA Division I)
7–8 (NIT)
0–1 (CIT)
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Division I Regional — Final Four (2006)
MAC Regular Season (1997)
CAA Regular Season (1999, 2000, 2006, 2011)
CAA Tournament (1999, 2001, 2008)
ACC Regular Season (2013)
ACC Tournament (2013)
Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award (2006)
Adolph Rupp Cup (2013)
AP College Coach of the Year (2013)
Henry Iba Award (2013)
Naismith College Coach of the Year (2013)
MAC Coach of the Year (1997)
CAA Coach of the Year (1999, 2011)
ACC Coach of the Year (2013, 2016)

James Joseph Larrañaga (/ˌlɛərəˈnɡə/ LAIR-ə-NAY-gə; born October 2, 1949) is the head men's basketball coach for the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He has held this position since 2011.

Before joining the University of Miami, he served as the head men's basketball coach at American International College from 1977 to 1979, Bowling Green State University from 1986 to 1997, and George Mason University from 1997 to 2011, where he coached the Patriots to 13 consecutive winning seasons and became a media sensation during the Patriots' improbable run to the Final Four of the 2006 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament. Larrañaga has won several national coach of the year awards and over 600 games as a head coach since the late 1970s.


Early life and education[edit]

Larrañaga is one of six children and grew up in the Bronx. He attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens,[1] where he starred on the basketball varsity team under coach Jack Curran and graduated in 1967.

He went on to play basketball at Providence College. He was the basketball team captain as a senior in the 1970–71 season and led Providence College to a 20–8 record and an NIT appearance. He graduated as the school's fifth all-time leading scorer with 1,258 points, was the team's top scorer as a sophomore and junior, and was named New England's Division I Sophomore of the Year in 1969. Larrañaga's time at Providence was recognized with his induction into the Providence College Hall of Fame in 1991. He graduated from Providence in 1971 with an economics degree and was selected in the sixth round of the 1971 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He never sought an NBA career, opting instead to go into coaching.

Larrañaga's grandfather was born in Cuba of Basque parents and was part of Cuba's Por Larrañaga cigar company.[2] He is the father of Jay Larranaga, an assistant coach of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.

Coaching career[edit]

Immediately after graduating from Providence, Larrañaga took a job as an assistant to Terry Holland at Davidson College, also serving as the freshman team coach. In his five years under Holland, Davidson won three regular-season Southern Conference titles and reached the NIT once, and he also amassed a 47–12 record as freshman coach. In 1976, he moved to Belgium in order to serve as player-coach for a professional club, but only stayed there for one season.

He returned to the U.S. in 1977 for his first head coaching job at American International College, a Division II program which had losing records in the previous five years. In two years at AIC, his teams had a 28–25 record, including a win against Northeastern University, who was coached by Jim Calhoun at that time. In 1979, he was reunited with his former Davidson mentor Holland, who by now had become the head coach at the University of Virginia. Larrañaga became an assistant at a program that had begun to emerge as a power in the ACC, arriving at the same time as highly touted freshman Ralph Sampson. In seven seasons at Virginia, Larrañaga was on the bench for an NIT title in 1980 and NCAA Final Four berths in 1981 and 1984.

Bowling Green[edit]

In 1986, Larrañaga left Virginia for the head coaching job at Bowling Green State University. In his first season there, the Falcons improved by eight games over the 1985–86 season, finishing 15–14. He went on to record a 170–144 record in 11 years there, and was only the second coach in Bowling Green history to take the Falcons to postseason play in consecutive years (the 1990 and 1991 editions of the NIT). During his tenure at Bowling Green the Falcons defeated the perennial national powers Kentucky, Michigan State (twice), Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue. In his final season at Bowling Green (1996–97), he led the Falcons to a regular-season co-championship in the Mid-American Conference and another NIT berth, and was also named the conference's Coach of the Year. He is still the second-winningest coach in school history (behind only Hall of Famer Harold Anderson), as well as one of the winningest coaches in the Mid-American Conference. One notable NBA player who played for Larrañaga was guard Antonio Daniels,[3] who was selected fourth overall in the 1997 draft.

George Mason[edit]

Larrañaga arrived at George Mason in 1997. His first team only went 9–18, but signs of improvement were present. In the 1998–99 season, the Patriots went 19–11, won the school's first Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title in history, and won the conference tournament to advance to the NCAA tournament. The Patriots would again go to the NCAA tournament in 2001 and two NITs in 2002 and 2004. The 2004 team was notable as Mason's first 20-win team in 14 years, and also won consecutive postseason games for the first time in school history.

2004–05 season[edit]

The 2004–05 team, with three junior starters but dominated by freshmen and sophomores, went 16–13. However, these players would prove themselves the following season.

2005–06: The dream season[edit]

The Patriots entered the 2005–06 season as a strong contender for the CAA title. They entered the conference tournament 22–6, finishing in a tie for the regular-season title with UNC Wilmington. Near the end of the regular season, they were briefly ranked in the Top 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, the school's first ranking ever, and were on the brink of making it to the Associated Press poll. They also narrowly lost to Wake Forest and Mississippi State, and survived a tough match at Wichita State in the ESPN-sponsored BracketBusters event.

However, from Mason's perspective, the CAA tournament would not live up to their expectations. The Patriots survived an overtime scare in the quarterfinals from Georgia State, and then lost to Hofstra in the semifinals. During that match, starting guard Tony Skinn hit a Hofstra player below the belt, earning a one-game suspension for his action. Many observers considered Mason to be "on the bubble" for an NCAA bid; some believed that Skinn's suspension would lead the NCAA Selection Committee to leave Mason out of the field. However, the committee put the Patriots in the field, making them the first at-large team from the CAA in 20 years. Some commentators, notably Billy Packer, criticized Mason's entry in the tournament.

The Patriots would enter the tournament as a No. 11 seed in the Washington, D.C. Regional, facing 2005 Final Four participant Michigan State. They pulled a 75–65 upset, giving Larrañaga and George Mason their first NCAA tournament victory ever. Next was a matchup against defending national champion North Carolina. Prior to the game, Larrañaga famously told his players: "Their fans think they're supermen. Our fans know we're kryptonite."[4] The Patriots found themselves in a 16–2 hole, but climbed out of it to win 65–60 and advance to the regional site at the Verizon Center, about 30 minutes away from their campus.

The Patriots next won a rematch with Wichita State, controlling the game throughout and winning 63–55. That put them in the regional final against 2004 champions and regional top seed Connecticut. The Patriots trailed by as much as 12 during the first half, and by nine early in the second. However, they would storm back to make the game close the rest of the way. Larrañaga would motivate his team during timeouts by telling his players that the UConn players didn't know what conference George Mason was in.[5] He told them that on this day "CAA" stood for "Connecticut Assassins Association." Mason would win 86–84 in overtime, becoming only the fourth team not from a BCS AQ conference to make the Final Four in a quarter-century (after UNLV in 1987 and 1991 and Utah in 1998). Their improbable run ended on April 1 in Indianapolis when they lost 73–58 to eventual national champion Florida in the national semifinals.

Larrañaga received the Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award for his accomplishments during this season. Larrañaga's overall head coaching record going into the Final Four was 366–273.[citation needed]

2010–11: The Revival[edit]

The 2010–2011 season brought great promise for the Patriots. Led by seniors Cam Long and Isiah Tate, the Patriots' campaign started off with mixed emotions as they dropped two games vs NC State and Wofford. From then, the Patriots sparked a seven-game winning streak including a key home win in the 'Battle of the Orange Line' versus George Washington University. The following four games proved to be a test as GMU traveled to the University of Dayton, played at home versus the University of Delaware, and away at both Hofstra University and at Old Dominion University. After the lowly spell of dropping three of those four, the Patriots became red hot as they went undefeated during the regular season winning 16 straight games including a crucial conference game at Virginia Commonwealth University. Heading into the CAA tournament, the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll ranked George Mason as the number 25 team in the country, which was their first national ranking since 2006 when they made the improbable run to the Final Four. Senior Cam Long was voted first team all-conference and Coach Larrañaga was awarded the coach of the year. GMU would fall from the rankings after a semifinal loss to VCU in the conference tournament.

In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Mason was assigned a No. 8 seed and faced off against No. 9 seed and Big East stalwart Villanova. In a seesaw game, Mason pulled out the victory when Luke Hancock knocked down a late three, and Mike Morrison threw down a last-second breakaway dunk. In the next round, Mason lost to No. 1 overall seed Ohio State.

Other achievements[edit]

As of February 2011, Larrañaga's 271 career wins at Mason makes him the winningest coach in the history of both the school and the CAA. He has won CAA Coach of the Year twice, in 1999 and in 2011. The latter award came after the Patriots reeled off a school-record 15 straight wins to finish the regular season, remaining undefeated at the Patriot Center, setting a school record for regular-season wins (25), and securing the No. 1 seed heading into the CAA tournament.[6]

University of Miami[edit]

On April 22, 2011, Larrañaga accepted the head coaching position at the University of Miami.[7] In his first season at Miami, he led the team to a 9–7 record in-conference, which marked the university's first ever winning record in the ACC.

In his second season, Larrañaga led the Hurricanes to arguably their best season since the Rick Barry era, winning the ACC regular season title. It represented the first time in 11 years and only the fourth time in 32 years that a team not from North Carolina had won at least a share of the title. The highlight of the season was an unprecedented 90-63 rout of top-ranked Duke, which represented Miami's first-ever defeat of a top-ranked team and the largest margin of defeat for a top-ranked team ever.

On March 17, 2013, Larrañaga coached the Hurricanes to the ACC tournament title—the first tournament title in the program's history — with an 87-77 win over North Carolina. On April 4, 2013, Larrañaga was voted the Associated Press' college basketball coach of the year.[8] A week later, the Hurricanes advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament with their school-record 29th win. The season ended the following weekend with a loss to Marquette. He claimed the Hurricanes had not enough energy to win the game because of Reggie Johnson's injury and Shane Larkin's sickness.[9]

Academic activities[edit]

In August 2007, Larrañaga was appointed as an associate professor in the George Mason University School of Management (SOM) in the school's Executive MBA program. Although his basketball schedule only allowed him to teach part-time, he was a frequent presenter in classes on leadership, management, and team development, and often spoke at school-sponsored seminars. He had been a guest lecturer at SOM since arriving at George Mason in 1997.[10]

Head coaching record[edit]

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
American International Yellow Jackets (NCAA Division II independent) (1977–1979)
1977–78 American International 14–13
1978–79 American International 13–13
American International: 27–26 (.509)
Bowling Green Falcons (Mid-American Conference) (1986–1997)
1986–87 Bowling Green 15–14 10–6 3rd
1987–88 Bowling Green 12–16 7–9 T–5th
1988–89 Bowling Green 13–15 7–9 T–6th
1989–90 Bowling Green 18–11 9–7 T–3rd NIT First Round
1990–91 Bowling Green 17–13 9–7 T–4th NIT First Round
1991–92 Bowling Green 14–15 8–8 5th
1992–93 Bowling Green 11–16 8–10 T–6th
1993–94 Bowling Green 18–10 12–6 T–2nd
1994–95 Bowling Green 16–11 10–8 T–5th
1995–96 Bowling Green 14–13 9–9 T–6th
1996–97 Bowling Green 22–10 13–5 T–1st NIT First Round
Bowling Green: 170–144 (.541) 120–84 (.588)
George Mason Patriots (Colonial Athletic Association) (1997–2011)
1997–98 George Mason 9–18 6–10 T–5th
1998–99 George Mason 19–11 13–3 1st NCAA Division I Round of 64
1999–00 George Mason 19–11 12–4 T–1st
2000–01 George Mason 18–12 11–5 T–2nd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2001–02 George Mason 19–10 13–5 2nd NIT Opening Round
2002–03 George Mason 16–12 11–7 4th
2003–04 George Mason 23–10 12–6 3rd NIT Second Round
2004–05 George Mason 16–13 10–8 6th
2005–06 George Mason 27–8 15–3 T–1st NCAA Division I Final Four
2006–07 George Mason 18–15 9–9 T–5th
2007–08 George Mason 23–11 12–6 3rd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2008–09 George Mason 22–11 13–5 2nd NIT First Round
2009–10 George Mason 17–15 12–6 4th CIT First Round
2010–11 George Mason 27–7 16–2 1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
George Mason: 273–164 (.625) 165–79 (.676)
Miami Hurricanes (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2011–present)
2011–12 Miami 20–13 9–7 T–4th NIT Second Round
2012–13 Miami 29–7 15–3 1st NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2013–14 Miami 17–16 7–11 10th
2014–15 Miami 25–13 10–8 T–6th NIT Runner-Up
2015–16 Miami 27–8 13–5 T–2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2016–17 Miami 21–12 10–8 T–7th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2017–18 Miami 22–10 11–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2018–19 Miami 14–18 5–13 T–11th
2019–20 Miami 15–16 7–13 T–10th
2020–21 Miami 10–17 4–15 13th
2021–22 Miami 26–11 14–6 4th NCAA Division I Elite Eight
2022–23 Miami 7–1 0–0
Miami: 233–142 (.621) 105–96 (.522)
Total: 703–476 (.596)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeansonne, John (March 31, 2006). "Final Four George Mason, For Larranaga, it's the Final Fun". Newsday. p. A76.
  2. ^ "Jim Larrañaga: a nod to Miami Hurricanes coach's Cuban roots". Miami Herald. March 22, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  3. ^ "Wizards' Daniels Has a Mason Connection". Washington Post. March 31, 2006. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  4. ^ "What are the best quotes in D.C. sports history?". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ "George Mason Dances Past UConn To Final Four". George Mason University Athletics. March 26, 2006. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  6. ^ Goff, Steven (March 4, 2011). "George Mason Coach Jim Larrañaga named CAA coach of the year". Washington Post.
  7. ^ Gardner, Tim (April 22, 2011). "Jim Larrañaga leaves George Mason, accepts offer to become coach at Miami". USA Today.
  8. ^ "Jim Larrañaga named top coach". ESPN. April 4, 2013.
  9. ^ "Interview with AP Coach of the Year Jim Larrañaga: "Coaching awards are reflection of the team"". MY-Basket.it. May 4, 2013. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  10. ^ "Mason Coach Jim Larrañaga Joins School of Management Executive Education Program Faculty" (Press release). George Mason University School of Management. August 15, 2007. Retrieved March 31, 2016.

External links[edit]