Jim Larranaga was always going to be in the news this month. It’s now been 10 years since he took George Mason to the Final Four. (And more on that soon. Lots and lots more.) And the beloved ex-Patriots coach was coming back to Verizon Center, with two of his former Mason assistants, as part of the rarely-in-Washington ACC tournament.
So the nostalgia was already ready to flow. And then came word that Larranaga’s Miami team would spend a few days practicing at his old Mason haunts in advance of next week’s ACC tournament, and well, if you don’t see a story in that, you probably also think the media should spend more time on Jim Gilmore and less on Trump.
As it turns out, the Hurricanes are finishing off their regular-season schedule Saturday afternoon against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. That’s a lot closer to Washington than to South Florida. So Miami reached out to George Mason about using the school’s Fairfax practice facilities while preparing for the ACC event, which starts Tuesday at Verizon Center. George Mason first-year coach Dave Paulsen has embraced his school’s Final Four history, and had no problem with helping out Larranaga and friends. (The Atlantic 10 tournament begins next Wednesday in Brooklyn.)
And with the Miami staff also including a pair of former Mason assistants in Chris Caputo and James Johnson, and the George Mason athletic department including a bunch of longtime employees who overlapped with Larranaga, well, there will be plenty of hugs and goosebumps next week, anyhow.
Miami is ranked No. 7 and can still clinch a share of the ACC regular season title, but even with such a tremendous season and some local ties, the Hurricanes will face a hostile Verizon Center atmosphere next week. Not so in Fairfax. Larranaga spent more than a decade off Braddock Road, and remains the school’s all-time leader in wins and winning percentage. It’s not hard to find memories of the Final Four inside the athletic department, which has spent this season celebrating the 10th anniversary.
The Miami practices will be closed to the public, but Larranaga is expected to address local media members at some point during his time at George Mason, which will include up to three days of practice.