MANATEE COUNTY - The Final Four is set, and the University of Miami is not in it. But under head coach Jim Larranaga, the Hurricanes won 29 games in their best season ever. And here on the Suncoast, his biggest supporters had a front row seat.
“If I go down there, I want to spend time with Jim. He’s my brother before he’s a coach, and so if I can’t spend time with him, I have a better seat here, looking at a 52” TV,” says John Larranaga.
He and Jeannie are almost always camped out to watch the ‘Canes games. They are always in the same spot, but not always in the same seat for each game. “I sit here, and Jeannie sits here, or vice versa. Souffle is in the middle between us.”
The Larranagas are a close family, and older brother John has watched Jim on the court from the time he was a child, through high school at Archbishop Molloy, through college at Providence, and now up to this ‘Canes successful season. “Really exciting; I mean it gives me chills all the time. When he was growing up and played ball in high school, I saw virtually every game he played.”
This season, the ‘Canes beat a #1 ranked team for the first time ever, they went 29-7 overall, reached the Sweet Sixteen, and won the ACC. “Jim instilled man-to-man, not zone. He instilled defense; keep the other team scoring at 60 points or less. And it became a winning formula. He knows exactly what he wants, and he gets that from our father.”
As the younger brother coaches, the two older brothers sit, watch, and dissect.
“We got on the bus to go to the game. He turned around to say to Bob and I: ‘I don’t want you guys coaching me. You just watch, I’ll do the coaching.’ I said to Bob, okay we got the message.”
Jim Larranaga has a place near his brother in Lakewood Ranch, but he only gets up here a few times a year.
“We’re really proud of him. Win or lose…he’s always our brother. We are very proud that he has accomplished what he accomplished.”