University of Miami basketball coach Jim Larrañaga began this week in an especially good mood.
His team overwhelmed Pitt on the road, 72-46 on Saturday, and the victory was No. 600 in Larrañaga’s 33-year career. He becomes the fifth active ACC coach to reach that milestone, and the other four are in the Basketball Hall of Fame – Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams and Rick Pitino.
“I’m trying to catch Boeheim and Coach K,” Larrañaga said, smiling. “If I coach until I’m 120, I might catch them.”
Duke’s Krzyzewski leads the way with 1,057, followed by Syracuse’s Boeheim (894), North Carolina’s Williams (798) and Louisville’s Pitino (757). Larrañaga ranks 14th among all active NCAA coaches.
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The Hurricane players surprised their coach with a locker room celebration. They sat motionless as he walked in and declared: “Hell of a job, guys.” Then, a player yelled “600!” and the entire team jumped up and wrapped Coach L in a group hug.
Several of his former players gave him shout-outs on Twitter, as did college basketball analysts.
“One of the truly underrated college coaches,” wrote John Feinstein.
ESPN commentator Chris Spatola Tweeted: “600 wins at Bowling Green, George Mason and Miami not easy to do. One of the most underrated coaches ever.”
Among those who called to congratulate him: Krzyzewski, Doc Rivers, Rick Barry, Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, Dick Vitale and John Swofford.
There was more to celebrate on Sunday, as 2017 recruit Lonnie Walker was named to the McDonald’s All-America team. Walker, of Reading, Pa., is the fifth McDonald’s All-American in UM program history, joining Dewan Huell (2016), Darius Rice (2000), Steve Edwards (1992) and Tito Horford (1985).
Walker, 6-5, is ranked No. 19 in the ESPN Top 100, Miami’s highest-ranked recruit in the last 15 years. He joins Chris Lykes, ranked 52nd in the country, and Deng Gak, ranked 93rd, in Miami’s class of 2017.
The 14th-ranked UM women’s team was in the national spotlight as well, nearly knocking off No. 9 Louisville on the road in a game televised by ESPN2. The Canes lost 63-59, but were within a point in the final minute in front of a crowd of 10,616 at the KFCYum! Center.
“The other games we lost this year we didn’t play with our identity. If things didn’t go well on the offensive end we didn’t really respond with a toughness,” UM coach Katie Meier said. “I thought today we were point-blank missing shots in the first quarter, but that didn’t knock us out. In those other games, there would be a stretch where we would miss shots and it was in our head for three or four possessions, but we had short-term memory today and we kept battling, we stayed confident. I thought it was a great basketball game.”
Miami outshot the Cardinals, 41.4 percent (24-of-58) to 36.9 percent (24-of-65), but Louisville had a 46-31 edge in rebounding.
The UM women are back on the road at Syracuse Jan. 22. The men are also traveling with back-to-back road games at Wake Forest Wednesday and Duke on Saturday.