George Mason Extends Head Basketball Coach Jim Larranaga's Contract Through 2009
March 31, 2004
Fairfax, VA - Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Tom O'Connor announced today that men's basketball Head Coach Jim Larranaga has signed a two-year extension at George Mason. Larranaga is now signed through the 2008-09 season.
"Jim (Larranaga) has really done a terrific job bringing the program at George Mason to a level of prominence in the CAA and nationally," said O'Connor. "The University has benefited not only from his basketball expertise and his success on the court, but from his dedication to the student-athlete and his reputation as a "player's coach." He exemplifies what the university stands for and we are fortunate to have Jim as the foundation of our basketball program for years to come."
"I love George Mason University and have since the day I arrived," said Coach Larranaga. "The support given to me and my staff from the University's administration and athletic department makes this an ideal situation and a wonderful place to work. I'm proud of what we have accomplished in my seven years, creating a program that exudes the green and gold pride, and look forward to new challenges ahead to continue to build on a solid basketball tradition."
This past season, the Patriots (23-10) won a school-record 23 games, breaking the 1983-84 mark of 21 games, and won back-to-back postseason contests for the first time in school history, beating Tennessee 58-55 and Austin Peay 66-60. Mason lost to the Oregon Ducks 68-54 in the Sweet 16 of the NIT. The Patriots were a basket away from winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and an automatic berth into the NCAA, losing to Virginia Commonwealth 55-54.
The Patriots have experienced four post-season appearances in Coach Larranaga's seven years as head coach. In only his second season, Mason earned a NCAA bid in 1999; it's first in 10 years. Only two years later, the Patriots won the CAA tournament again and an automatic bid in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. George Mason lost in the first round of both those tournaments, 72-48 to Cincinnati (1999) and an 83-80 thriller to cross-town foe Maryland (2001). The following season, the Patriots placed second in the CAA to earn a NIT bid. Mason played host to St. Joseph's at the Patriot Center and lost 73-64.
Larranaga took over a program in 1997 that hadn't had a winning season in seven years and a postseason appearance since 1989. He has compiled a 123-84 record in his seven years at George Mason, including a 114-63 mark (72-30 in Colonial Athletic Association games, best in the conference) over the past six.
George Mason had eight head coaches before Larranaga's arrival in 1997. Larranaga reached 100 wins the fastest of any of the coaches, winning his 100th game on the last regular season contest last year against Drexel, and is second in wins with 123, only behind John Linn, who won 130 in 10 seasons. Coach Larranaga is the winningest coach in Mason history, winning 59.4% of the games.
A 9-18 record in his first year with the Patriots in 1997-98 drew plaudits from knowledgeable basketball people who realized the program was headed in the right direction, but it all came together the following season. George Mason was 19-11 overall and a school-best 13-3 in the CAA in 1998-99, making a 10-game improvement over the previous season, the 12th-best performance in the nation. The Patriots won their first-ever conference regular season championship and their second CAA Tournament title to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The 19 victories were the most in nine years, and the season included a 10-game winning streak, the second best in school history.
The performance by the Patriots earned numerous honors for Larranaga as he was named Coach of the Year by the CAA and in the NABC District 4, and he was selected state Coach of the Year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
George Mason followed up with another 19-11 overall mark in 1999-2000, tying James Madison for first place in the CAA at 12-4 and earning the top seed in the conference tournament. In 2000-01, the Patriots finished 18-12 overall and 11-5 in the CAA, good for a tie for second place, and they won the CAA Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. The Patriots produced another solid campaign with a 19-10 overall record (13-5 in the CAA) and a NIT berth in 2001-02. Mason's 2002-03 roster was hampered by injuries throughout the year, but managed to pull together a 16-12 record (11-7 in the CAA), and a fourth-place conference finish.
Larranaga, 54, accomplished many of the same things in his 11 years at Bowling Green State University from 1986-97 and in two years at American International College from 1977-79. In 20 years as a head coach, he has a career record of 321-253.
The Bronx, NY, native arrived at Bowling Green in 1986-87 and went on to record a 170-144 mark in 11 years. He was the 1997 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year after leading Bowling Green to a 22-10 record, a conference regular season co-championship and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament. The 22 victories were the most by a Bowling Green team in 47 years and the 13 conference wins were the second-highest total in Falcon history.
Larranaga's 170 victories at Bowling Green rank second all-time on the Falcons' coaching list and he was only the second coach to record consecutive postseason appearances. Larranaga led his squad to NIT berths in 1990 (18-11) and again in 1991 (17-13), the first time the Falcons enjoyed back-to-back postseason appearances since the early '60s. Larranaga's is amongst the winningest coaches in MAC history.
In 1977 he received his first head coaching position when he was named to the post at American International, a Division II program in Springfield, MA. Taking over a team that had suffered through five consecutive losing seasons prior to his arrival, Larranaga turned AIC into a winning program in his first year and compiled a 28-25 mark in two seasons.
A 1971 graduate of Providence College with a degree in economics, Larranaga was a four-year letterman for the Friars, he was the team captain as a senior, leading Providence to a 20-8 record and an NIT appearance. He graduated as the school's fifth all-time leading scorer with 1,258 points and was selected in the sixth round of the draft by the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association. He was the team's top scorer as a sophomore and junior and was named New England's Division I Sophomore of the Year in 1969. His outstanding career was rewarded when he was inducted into the Providence College Hall of Fame in 1991.
Larranaga and his wife, Liz, have two children. Jay, 28, plays professional basketball in Spain, and Jon, 23, was a member of his father's George Mason teams from 1999-00 to 2002-03 and also plays professional basketball in Spain.