Fresh off the heals of Miami defeating number one-ranked Duke, Jim Larranaga caught up with his old friends, the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Friday to celebrate his successes.
“I thought you guys forgot about me,” Larranaga said. “We had to beat Duke – the number one ranked team in the country – to get a phone call.”
Larranaga said he trains his players not to get caught in social media traps like Manti Te’o.
“I think my guys would all be interested in having a fantasy girlfriend like he did for a while,” Larranaga said. “We talk about the social media but I don’t think I’d ever imagine that any of my guys would have an imaginary girlfriend – actually a guy friend, who talked like a girl – that they fell in love – it’s kind of a weird story. Let’s talk about hoops.”
Coach L said although Miami has had a historically prestigious football team, the campus’ awareness for basketball was very much like it was at George Mason we he first arrived, and he had to go grassroots to make students care.
“We were drawing about 2.5000 fans a game and the place seats 8,000,” Larranaga said. “My staff and I, the players, we went dorm hopping. We brought Buffalo Wild Wings, pizza to the students trying to drum up interest in our program and get them out to the games. And the student interest has grown and grown over these first two years.”
20-13 in his first year, and 13-3 to start the 2012-13 campaign, the first two years haven’t been as easy for Coach L as his record would indicate.
“A year ago, we had Reggie Johnson – with a knee surgery – out for six months. Julian Gamble, out for a year with a torn ACL. That’s really the kind of mash unit you want to inherit.”
According to Coach L, who posted a 273-164 record in fourteen seasons at George Mason, despite the jump from mid-major to the ACC, recruiting hasn’t been nearly as easy for the 63-year-old coach.
“Here I can’t get in a car and drive over to D.C. and catch a great high school game at O’Connell or DeMatha,” Larranaga said. “I have to get on a plane and fly. On Monday after practice, I flew on a private jet to Cleveland to catch a high school game. I was back home at 3 o’clock in the morning.”
Luckily, after putting feet to the pavement in all these things needed to build the foundation for success at Miami, Coach L is impressed with how it’s all come together.
“We’ve won six games in a row now, and we’re in the top 25, and we just knocked off Duke, the number one team in the country,” Larranaga said. “I’d imagine the rest of the games for the season will be sold out.”