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Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Larranaga thought Martin was Miami's fit

By Eamonn Brennan

You didn't need to be a college basketball insider to do the simple math: The Miami men's basketball job was vacant. Frank Martin, Miami native, was no doubt interested. Bing, bang, boom, let's all go home, coaching search over. (This is basically what coaching search firms do, but for much, much more money. Also: laminated materials. Lamination is definitely involved at some point.)

Of course, Miami's hire didn't go that way. The big fat stop sign hanging in front of any Martin hire was money. To snare the hometown coach, Miami would have had to seriously increase its financial commitment to men's hoops -- it would have had to take the "OK, we're a two-sport school, let's do this" plunge -- and that was probably never going to happen. For his part, Martin seems plenty happy in Manhattan, Kan.

So, Hurricanes brass made a failed run at Harvard coach Tommy Amaker. Then, Miami found its guy: George Mason coach Jim Larranaga. It's a great fit for both sides, but it was also a major surprise.

Guess who else was caught by surprise? Yes, you guessed it: Larranaga himself. Via 560 WQAM (transcription hat tip: The Dagger):
"I thought, 'Oh wow, I wonder if Frank Martin will take the job,'" Larranaga said.

"When I was contacted by (Miami), I was very, very excited," Larranaga said. "You want to be part of a league like this, and at my age, it's probably the last, last chance I was going to have. When the opportunity arose and I was offered the job, I jumped all over it."

Larranaga was effusive in his praise for the ACC during his interview with WQAM. He also described his immediate plans at Miami, which are par for the course for any new coach hired into a program filled with players he didn't recruit: He's getting to know his new players and working on tidying up as many loose ends as possible. The two most notable ones include center Reggie Johnson, who entered his name in the draft without an agent (Larranaga is confident Johnson will return to school) and incoming recruit Bishop Daniels, who asked for a letter of release from the school after former coach Frank Haith left for Missouri.

Larranaga seems as energized and focused as ever and that is fantastic news for Miami. Sure, the Hurricanes couldn't get everyone's first choice. But there are far worse Plan B's in the world than Jim Larranaga.