Craig Wolf, Video Coordinator and Assistant Director of Operations at Northwestern University, shared this today from CBSSports.com

“When I took the job at Miami, I met with the team and the very first thing I asked is, ‘How good do you guys want to be?'” Larranaga said. “They were like, ‘We want to get to the Final Four! We want to win a national championship!’ I said, ‘OK. Well, here are some categories that are important.'”

Larranaga mentioned defensive 3-point field goal percentage.

He asked his players where they thought they ranked.

“They said, ‘Oh, we’re pretty good,'” Larranaga said. “So I asked, ‘What is pretty good? There are 345 Division I teams. One is the best. The worst is 345.  Where do you rank?'”

They told him they were in the top 100.

Larranaga told them they were actually 224th.

“Then I told them, ‘OK, turnovers are important,'” Larranaga said. “‘One is the best. The worst is 345. Where do you rank?'”

They told him around 100.

He told them they were actually 218th.

“The first thing I needed them to know is where they needed to improve, and those numbers showed them because they are totally objective numbers,” Larranaga said. “You can’t argue with them. They show you what you need to work on.  And, as a coach, if you don’t know what you need to work on, then you’re just practicing … stuff.  Yes, I want to practice what we’re good at. But what I really want to practice is what we have to improve on to be really good, and I want my players to understand why we’re doing it.”

Those numbers forced Larranaga’s players to understand.

So they got to work immediately.

Now the Hurricanes are 37th nationally in defensive 3-point field-goal percentage, 17th nationally in offensive turnover percentage, and those are just two of the reasons why they’re 19-3 overall and 10-0 in the ACC heading into Wednesday night’s game at Florida State. Larranaga and his staff took over, used advanced statistics to identify problems and then worked meticulously and relentlessly at solving those problems. That approach, combined with an experienced and talented roster, helped create one of college basketball’s best stories and reinforce one of Larranaga’s favorite expressions.


Think like a gardener; work like a carpenter.

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