Miami men's coach Jim Larranaga is in familiar surroundings | College basketball
Miami men's coach Jim Larranaga, whose previous job was at George Mason, will be in familiar surroundings at the NCAA East Regional in Washington.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Jim Larranaga left the Washington area for Miami, with hopes of taking another men's team to the Final Four.
To make that plan a reality, he is headed back to Washington.
Larranaga and his Hurricanes (29-6) face Marquette (25-8) in the East Regional semifinals on Thursday night, a game to be played at the Verizon Center — a half-hour drive or so away from his former workplace, George Mason, the school he led to the Final Four in 2006. And Mason won its regional at, you guessed it, the same arena where the Hurricanes are headed this week, where Larranaga cut down the nets seven years ago.
Given all that, good karma seemingly will be awaiting Miami.
"It'll definitely help us up there," Miami guard Rion Brown said. "What he did for that place was great. He brought it down here. I feel like there will be a lot of people there to support us and support him, and that'd be great."
Hurricanes center Reggie Johnson had a minor surgical procedure to repair a meniscus problem and did not accompany the team on its flight to Washington, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
Johnson could return for the Final Four if Miami advances, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the school did not publicly reveal the surgery.
The 6-foot-10, 292-pound senior is averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds this season.
Larranaga's demeanor on the floor rarely seems to change much, stoic but not cold on the sideline, active but never overly animated.
When he leaves the floor, something changes.
He takes phantom charges in the locker room. He dives for loose balls to the delight of his players. He's a screamer of encouragement. And his latest viral-video move came when he channeled Muhammad Ali after Miami beat Illinois in the third round of the NCAAs, lauding his Hurricanes for being fighters and doing an "Ali Shuffle."
"He can't keep doing that," Hurricanes forward Kenny Kadji said of Larranaga's physical antics, unable to keep a straight face. "He's got to get treatment."
Larranaga has revived a program three years removed from going 4-12 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
"We tell the players all the time, you create memories, and they've created a lot of great memories for themselves," he said.
Maryland advances in NIT
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alex Len collected 15 points and 13 rebounds to help Maryland beat Alabama 58-57 in the NIT quarterfinals.
The Terrapins (25-12) are making their first trip to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York since 2005 and are seeking their first title in the event since 1972.
Levi Randolph scored 15 points for Alabama (23-13).
• Pacific promoted top assistant Ron Verlin, 47, to coach, replacing Bob Thomason — who spent 25 years coaching his alma mater before retiring.
• Bobby Hurley, an ex-Duke standout who played in the NBA, will coach Buffalo.
Hurley, 41, spent the past three seasons working as an assistant on the staff of brother Dan Hurley — last season at Rhode Island after two seasons at Wagner.
• According to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern is close to hiring Chris Collins as coach. Collins, the associate head coach at Duke, is the son of Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins.
• Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell will bypass his final season of eligibility and plans to enter the NBA draft.
• The soon-to-be-renamed Big East Conference signed a deal with CBS Sports to televise games through the end of the 2019-20 season. Financial terms were not revealed.