NEW YORK — No one would blame you that, for all of the hoopla about blue blood basketball royalty coming up to the Big Apple from Tobacco Road, one might miss a fairytale storyline that could emerge in the Big Apple: one of the city’s own coming one step closer to a basketball championship.
Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, born and raised in the Bronx, leads his fourth-seeded Hurricanes onto the Barclays Center floor to take on No. 1 Duke in the first game of the 2022 ACC semifinals on Friday night. Though many casual college basketball fans know Larrañaga best for leading George Mason to its Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2006, those with ties to New York City know he is New York tough, playing his high school basketball under legendary head coach Jack Curran at Archbishop Molloy High School.
In his 11th season at the helm in Coral Gables, Larrañaga has led the Hurricanes to a resurgence in the ACC, finishing 14-6 in the league and all but assuring Miami will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018. One of those 14 conference wins came at Cameron Indoor Stadium, when the Canes upset a Duke team that was ranked second in the nation, 79-78, to improve to 5-0 in the conference.
Larranaga, along with tonight’s counterpart, Mike Krzyzewski, also has the experience of winning the ACC Tournament in the past. OK, so Coach K has 14 more ACC Tournament titles than Larrañaga, but the latter did lead Miami to his lone ACC Tournament title in 2013, and with that past success in the league, plus his amazing George Mason teams that won NCAA Tournament games in 2006 (Final Four) and 2007, Larrañaga and his team should not be doubted.
Neither of the coaches in the second semifinal have won an ACC Tournament championship, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t tasted conference tournament success. For Hubert Davis, he was a player on the North Carolina Tar Heels under Dean Smith when they won the ACC Tournament in 1989 and 1991, along with being an assistant under Roy Williams when the Heels won the tourney in 2016. Third-year Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young is only coaching in his second ACC Tournament, but he was wildly successful in tournament play at his previous coaching stop, leading Wofford to five Southern Conference Tournament titles, including in 2019 when he led the Terriers to a perfect record through the SoCon on their way to a 30-win season and an NCAA Tournament first-round victory over Seton Hall.
Make sure to keep it here at A Lot of Sports Talk for wall-to-wall coverage of the ACC Tournament, part of our all-encompassing coverage of Championship Week that will have us covering conference tournaments from all over the country.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday’s first round games, with all photos taken by ALOST photographer Jenny Rohl. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 15 pictures in total.