Larranaga, Miami to feel fun of ‘performing well’
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
AUSTIN, Texas — One of the things Jim Larranaga did so well as George Mason’s coach in 2006 was alleviate the feeling of pressure. The Patriots looked like they were having the most fun of any tournament team as they disposed of heavyweights Michigan State, North Carolina and UConn en route to an historic Final Four appearance.
Larranaga has the same plan for his Miami players — he wants the Hurricanes to have the most fun of any team in the NCAAs. The difference, of course, is that Miami is a No. 2 seed rather than the No. 11 seed George Mason was in 2006. After winning the ACC regular season and tournament title, there are expectations, and they are high.
“If you start talking about how much pressure someone is feeling, they start to dwell on that,” Larranaga said Thursday. “If you talk about how much fun you want to have, the players focus on that.”
Based on winning the ACC regular season and tournament titles, Miami could have been a No. 1 seed. A loss to Georgia Tech on March 6 likely cost the Hurricanes a top seed.
But they will face 15th-seeded Pacific – and retiring longtime coach Bob Thomason – on Friday at the Erwin Center. And unlike 2006, this Larranaga-coached team is expected to play well into March, if not April.
“I am having a heck of a lot of fun,” Larranaga said. “Last year we did not get to play in this tournament, you know. We were bummed that we didn’t. And all the players were frustrated we didn’t.
“I want our players to enjoy this. What I told them fun is, though, is not fooling around. It is not being too serious. Really what fun is, is playing well, being with your teammates, and practicing well, playing well, performing well.”