After leading the Miami Hurricanes to their first-ever ACC title, head coach Jim Larrañaga has added another title to his resume: professor.
On Friday the school announced that Larrañaga was named Adjunct Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, marking the second time in his coaching career that he’s been a faculty member while also serving as head coach. Larrañaga was a faculty member in George Mason’s school of management during his time in Fairfax, and he’s hopeful that his new position at Miami will have a similar impact when it comes to interacting with the students who support the team.
“I’ve always seen myself as an educator; I graduated with a degree in education and I always planned to be a teacher,” Larrañaga said in the release. “I’ve had the great pleasure of teaching young men the game of basketball, but I was also a member of the faculty in the school of management at George Mason University.
“That provided me an opportunity to interact with a large number of students and to be in a classroom environment, which I enjoy very much. Being a member of the faculty of the University of Miami School of Education and Human Development will give me the opportunity to interact with more students than ever before.”
Larrañaga won’t be required to teach his own course however, as he’ll give guest lectures throughout the semester. And while it may be rare for a college basketball coach to also be a member of the faculty, it certainly isn’t unprecedented. Temple head coach Fran Dunphy has taught a course in the school’s Fox School of Business for four-plus years, and he also taught a course during his tenure as head coach at Penn.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.