Coach Jim Larrañaga has plenty to be grateful for as he sits down to his Thanksgiving meal Thursday. His University of Miami men’s basketball team is 5-0, ranked No. 15, and last week he signed two highly coveted recruits.
But the thing he seemed most giddy about on Wednesday was news that for the first time in school history, Miami sold out its season tickets. The last of the 5,600 season tickets was sold Wednesday morning, and the rest of the seats in the 7,572-seat BankUnited Center are reserved for students, the visiting team and VIPs.
It is the first time in UM history that a team in any sport sold out its tickets.
“We are totally sold out for the season!’’ Larrañaga declared loudly, with arms raised, at a news conference Wednesday morning.
“You guys cannot buy a ticket,’’ he said to reporters. “You’re lucky you’re gonna get a free seat at this place because we could have sold your seats as well.’’
The season sellout is especially gratifying to Larrañaga because when he took the job five years ago, he was warned that there is no interest in college basketball in South Florida. In fact, some friends advised him not to take the job for that reason.
His first year at UM, there were 2,251 season ticket holders.
“It’s the greatest feeling for a coach to inherit a program whose history and tradition is at a level where people are telling you there’s not much interest in your program and you’re not going to draw great crowds,’’ he said. “To now be in a position to say every game this season is a sellout, if you walk up the day of a game to buy a ticket at the ticket window, there will not be any available. … That’s very, very different from the program we inherited. It’s very exciting, a great accomplishment.’’
Larrañaga and his staff planned to send text messages to all recruits with the news, and also e-mail the recruits’ parents.
He acknowledged that “it doesn’t mean the BUC will have fans hanging from rafters every night.’’ because sometimes fans cannot make the games. He is hoping those fans give up their tickets so that other fans can get them on StubHub and similar ticket trading sites.
The Canes are coming off a championship at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where they knocked off then-No. 16 Utah and No. 22 Butler — both by double figures. Their next game is at home Friday at 4 p.m. against Northeastern, which won 23 games last season and lost by just four points to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament.
As Larrañaga left the news conference, he continued to celebrate the ticket news in the hallway. He pretended to call the UM ticket office: “I’d like to buy some season tickets to the basketball games, how can I do that,” he said.
“I’m sorry,’ he replied, answering himself. “We are sold out.”