For now, they’ll have to do it without him.
Larrañaga on dance
Larrañaga explained Tuesday how he came to do his Muhammad Ali Shuffle after the win over Illinois.
“During the game, it became a battle of wills and I thought the tougher team physically, mentally and emotionally was going to win. So, we asked the players to fight, fight harder, fight for every loose ball. Fight for every rebound, basket. … It was like a heavyweight boxing match, and as we walked to the locker room, I was trying to think what to say to them and all I could think of was fighting, and the greatest fighter of all time was Muhammad Ali. I thought to myself, I don’t even know if these kids know who Muhammad Ali is … Thought about doing a Mike Tyson reference, but I just said, ‘I asked you guys to be fighters, and you guys are like Muhammad Ali. And then I just did the shuffle. I don’t know why.”
Before the game, Larrañaga, in his suit and tie, dived on the ground to demonstrate how he wanted his team to dive for loose balls.
“I’m getting a little worried about Coach L,” Kadji joked. “He’s going to have to get treatment.”
When a reporter started a question by mentioning that Larrañaga is 63 years old, he smiled and chimed in: “Why does everybody make a big deal of that? I have yet to read Mike Krzyzewski’s 66. … Roy Williams is 62. Leonard Hamilton’s in his 60s (64), He’s older than me. Not a single article that I’ve read about any of those guys referred to their age. And when we played Pacific, I had to ask Bob Thomason. … I looked throughout his bio, they never once mentioned his age.”
Larrañaga was sad to hear news of the firings of Minnesota coach Tubby Smith and UCLA coach Ben Howland.
“It’s a very tough profession,” he said. “For me, it’s very sad because I know those two guys. I consider them good friends of mine, and I consider them not good coaches but great coaches, guys who have achieved a lot throughout the course of their careers. I’m assuming a very smart athletic director will hire each of those guys, and they’ll be back coaching at the highest level next year.”