This is the second season under the “life-lessons” dominated coaching scheme of Coach L and his longtime staff. Jim Larranaga coaches basketball in a way that emphasizes a holistic approach to the game. Success under Larranaga is compounded over the years after he establishes a solid foundation for a team to build off of. Everything from community engagement to recruitment, is part of Coach L’s master plan. The coaching staff is also excellent at scouting other teams, knowing exactly what stats to analyze, and properly preparing Miami for what’s ahead.
In only his second year at the University, Coach L has led the Canes to exponential success. The first year was new for everyone, and yet Miami was still a ‘Last Four Out’ team and ended up losing in the second round of the NIT to the talented Minnesota squad. Relatively speaking, that was a pretty successful season for Miami.
The Canes began the 2012-2013 season the moment they lost in the NIT. None of the players went home for the summer and instead they stayed as a complete team and practiced hard all summer. This has helped them become one of the best conditioned teams in the NCAA, which will serve them this late in the year.
The summer was also where Miami assumed their new team identity. This is a team that does everything together. They practice together, train together, break the huddle with “together”, hang out together, and together set their eyes on very specific goals before the season even begun.
These goals were simple, win the ACC regular season title, win the ACC championship, and win the NCAA Championship, and as you may know the first two goals have already been checked off the list.
In Coach L’s 2006 Final Four run with George Mason he had a player who’s pre-season goal was to make the Final Four. After Mason had lost in the Final Four, Larranaga aptly remarked that he should have set his goal to win the championship. Larranaga takes goals very seriously and can always devise a master plan to have them achieved.
What Coach L emphasizes the most is to have fun playing the game of basketball. The Canes have embraced this mentality and have been staying loose free-styling, video-bombing and dancing throughout the post-season. Larranaga is always saying that he wants to be the team having the most fun in the tournament.
Overall, the Canes are an extremely close team that has been together for two years now under Larranaga(only two players have graduated since), and after a historic season of firsts and accomplishments, they have only one goal left to complete. Winning the National Championship for the first time in school history.
Some More Reasons:
The last time Jim Larranaga took a team to the Final Four he did it in the Verizon Center. Now Coach L is returning to D.C., looking to take yet another team to the Final Four in the exact same building. What’s more is that Larranaga has deep roots in the area from his George Mason days, and the 2006 Final Four run, making the Canes a local favorite.
We’re really good. Miami was 4th in the RPI rankings, and this season we’ve beaten teams such as Michigan St., La Salle, Duke (by 27), and UNC (3 times).
South Florida Basketball is where it’s at. The Canes, The Heat, Florida (not really in the south), #15 seed FGCU (who beat the Canes early in the season) and are now in the Sweet Sixteen, and lest we forget UM’s women’s team was an 8 seed in the NCAA women’s tournament.
Many people don’t know this, but during the summer Chris Bosh scrimmaged with the Canes and when Larranaga asked him for his opinions on the team, he essentially called them ‘soft’. This is a bold claim coming from Chris Bosh. Larranaga asked Bosh to tell this to the team, which he did. Bosh didn’t just call them out, but he also told them about how hard it was getting over the Heat’s 2011 NBA Finals loss. He told them how much he beat himself up over regrets of not playing to his fullest. He pleaded that Miami give 100% every game and take nothing for granted. This was an emotional message that had to have hit the Seniors. In fact Larranaga said that Bosh’s short address was the best sports motivational talk he had every witnessed, and I’m sure none of them have forgotten it.
Shane Larkin is icy. Larkin always steps up in big games, he is naturally a clutch player who never backs down from the spotlight. Despite being a Sophmore at the University, he has already had plenty of experience in big games. In high-school Larkin played in back to back State Championships in Florida (2010 & 2011), although losing both to Austin River’s Winter Park squad.
We have5 Seniors,Scott, Gamble, McKinney-Jones, Kadji, and Johnson. All of which are vital parts of the team and are all playing what could be their last game as a Hurricane every time they step on the court. What’s more is that they’re all having their best season (by far) at Miami and are enjoying where it has taken them everyday. Coach L has prepared them well and have made them all wise players. They are veterans who want to win and know exactly what needs to be done.
Defense. The Canes have the ACC’s #1 and #2 ranked defensive players in Scott and Larkin respectively. We also have size and blocking abilities down low, just ask UVA’s Akil Mitchell.
Trey McKinney-Jones and Rion Brown. Both are excellent defensive players and key perimeter defenders. They are also two of our purest shooters and 3 point specialists. They make heady plays, are solid from the line, and are always willing to take big charges. Miami is packed with great shooters, so when Scott or Larkin are off, they can always rely on either Brown or McKinney-Jones to be shooting well.
Reggie is due for a breakout game, and when the Big Fella has a breakout game the Canes don’t lose. Unfortunately, he is currently injured and may not return.
Durand Scott is one of the most underrated players in the league. Don’t forget that this is the same guy who dropped 21 points (10-15 shooting) on Duke his freshman year, and the same guy who had his four year career high (32 pts) THIS post-season. In Scott’s first two years he was stuck playing point under Frank Haith, but when Larkin arrived Scott was free to play a more natural position. Larkin was born a point guard, and while the team is still Durand’s team, Larkin has facilitated Scott’s career season.