CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Jim Larrañaga’s coaching career started without warning.
Go back about six decades. Larrañaga is playing on the freshman squad at Archbishop Malloy High School, his team off to a 7-0 start when it hit the Christmas break. And that’s when he got called into the office of varsity coach Jack Curran, who delivered grim news.
“Larry, your coach quit,” Curran said on that December day.
Curran had Larrañaga serve as one of two player-coaches to finish the season. The team won the city championship. Larrañaga’s career was off and running — and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The latest celebration of his coaching life comes Friday night, when No. 13 Miami (1-0) will unveil its Final Four banner from last season before taking on UCF.
“I look forward to practice every day,” said Larrañaga, who also took George Mason to the Final Four in 2006. “Practice is my favorite time of the day. And being around the players, whether it’s on the court or off the court, is very enjoyable. Winning is good. Losing is so hard on everyone.
“So, as long as we can keep competing at a high level and winning our share of games and these players continue to enjoy playing for me -- I think they feel like I’m not antiquated and I haven’t lost touch yet – and as long as we win, that’s basically it.”
It’s not like Larrañaga, who turned 74 last month and is under contract at Miami through the end of the 2026-27 season, doesn’t have other ways he could be spending his time. He has a grandson who’s in eighth grade and already dunking. He has a son who is an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers. He could be watching all their games, enjoying the Florida lifestyle with his wife, be unburdened by any schedule.
Nope. He’s still coaching, just landed Miami’s best recruiting class in years and is the only coach to have reached the Elite Eight in each of the last two seasons — even though at least one of his players doesn’t seem to realize that he’s been at this much, much longer than they’ve been alive.
“I just think he’s a great coach,” Miami forward Norchad Omier said. “He’s been doing this longer than I … I’m 22, he’s probably been coaching more than my age. … He always figures out the right way, the right words to say to each player. He has it under control.”
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