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Sports

March 19, 2013

Larranaga has Miami poised for NCAA run

(Continued)

It wasn’t just that weekend. Players have noticed it all year.

“It was very important and it trickles throughout the team,” senior Julian Gamble said. “He’s our leader. Throughout the chaos, he stayed even-keeled and told us to keep having fun. You have to control the things you can control, and truth is, there are very few of them.”

Some symmetry might be at play for Miami in this tournament. George Mason earned its Final Four ticket by winning two games at the Verizon Center in Washington. If the Hurricanes win two games in Austin, they’ll be heading to that very same arena, with a chance to get Larranaga — who still has plenty of friends and fans in that area — back to the national semifinals.

Players speak about it openly: Naturally, they want the title, but when pressed to identify a top reason why they want to win, they say for Larranaga.

“Magical seasons don’t happen very often,” Shalala said. “The great thing about sports is you get the unexpected. You don’t get that in many other professions because you sort of build up to it and see it coming. But in sports, on any given day, in any given year, something extraordinary can happen. And that’s what happened at the University of Miami.”

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