Jim Larranaga Belongs in the Basketball Hall of Fame

The Miami Hurricanes win over Pittsburgh gave Jim Larranaga his 600th career coaching victory. Larranaga ranks 40th all-time among Division I coaches.

Although the majority of his victories came at Mid-Major schools Bowling Green and George Mason, Larranaga deserves a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He is the 96th coach overall to reach the milestone and is 14th in wins among active Division I coaches.

The Hall is full of coaches that coached at nearly every level of basketball. Larranaga was a journeyman coach before leading George Mason on one of the most improbable runs in NCAA Tournament history. The Patriots became the first true Mid-Major team to advance to a Final Four since Pennsylvania in 1979.

UNLV advanced to the Final Four since then as a member of the Big West in 1987, ’90 and ’91, but the Runnin’ Rebels were among the best programs in the country for at least ten years during those years.

Larranaga’s career is far more than the 2006 Final Four run. He is one of 15 coaches all-time with 100 or more wins at three Division I schools, four of whom are still active. Larrañaga also has 10 20-win seasons in his career and six conference titles, including two of those outright.

The Hurricanes have two NCAA appearances in Larranaga’s five seasons. They advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in both 2013 and 2016. The 2013 team is arguably the best in Miami history. They are the only team in the history of Miami Basketball to win an outright conference basketball championship. They also captured the ACC Tournament Championship that season.

Larranaga left George Mason as the school’s winningiest coach and also has the most wins in the history of the Colonial Athletic Conference.

There are only three coaches that have won more games than Larranaga and taken a team to a Final Four that are not in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Kansas’ Bill Self has 608 wins, two Final Four appearances and a National Championship. Mike Montgomery who coached at California, Montana and Stanford had 676 wins and took the Cardinal to the 1998 Final Four, and Billy Tubbs led Oklahoma to the 1988 Final Four and finished his career with 641 victories.

Larranaga was 64 when he began his first season at Miami. He has proven he can coach at college basketball’s highest level. Currently 67, Larranaga has pulled in the best recruiting classes in Miami history back to back years.

Bruce Brown, Dewan Huell and DJ Vasiljevic are important contributors as Freshmen and Lonnie Walker is expected to be next season. Huell and Walker are the first McDonald’s All-Americans Miami has ever signed in back to back seasons.

It might take a few more years with some other great coaches still awaiting enshrinement in Springfield, but Larranaga has proven enough to get there.

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