The University of Miami is beginning to reap individual awards to go with the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title the Hurricanes clinched last week with their win over Clemson in the regular-season finale.
It wasn’t quite a sweep for the Hurricanes, however.
Sophomore guard Shane Larkin was the runner-up for Player of the Year to Virginia Tech’s Erick Green. He was a first-team all-conference selection along with Green, Duke’s Mason Plumlee, Virginia’s Joe Harris, and North Carolina State’s Richard Howell.
Senior forward Kenny Kadji was second-team all-ACC as voted by the media association, joining Duke’s Seth Curry, N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown, and Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo, both of North Carolina.
Also, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association named Larranaga Coach of the Year for District IV, an area that encompasses programs in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and, of course, Florida.
Larkin was named first-team all-District IV.
Finally, Larranaga also is a finalist for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award as presented by CollegeInsider.com. It is named for the late Wake Forest coach and honors “those who not only achieve success on the basketball court but who display moral integrity off of it as well,” according to the organization.
The awards were announced Tuesday.
Larranaga garnered 75 of 77 votes for ACC Coach of the Year. One vote went to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, one to North Carolina’s Roy Williams, apparently out of habit.
“Really what it means is that we’ve got really good players,” Larranaga said when asked his reaction. “The players are the ones that win the games. My staff and I kind of give them the intervention they need hopefully to do well.
“But I look at the ACC, a 12-team league, and every one of those coaches is an outstanding coach. I know how hard it is for us to compete against them because of how well prepared those teams always are.”
Larranaga was a bit disappointed that his own player, Larkin, did not win Player of the Year, as he had advocated after Saturday’s title-clinching win over Clemson. Larkin got 23 votes to 38 for Virginia Tech’s Green, who led the nation in scoring (25.5 ppg) at the close of the regular season.
“Erick Green is a great college basketball player,” Larranaga said. “It’s not that he is not a well-deserving candidate. It happens to be the criteria votes use to select a Player of the Year.
“In our opinion the Player of the Year should come from the team that wins the championship. You don’t win without having great players.”
Larkin kind of shrugged it off.
“I thought I had a shot based on the team’s success,” he said. “But at the end of the day, he led the country in scoring. He had a great ACC season. He had a great season overall.
“When you lead the country in scoring, that’s great accomplishment. So it’s a well-deserving award.”
Larkin also was runner-up to his teammate Scott for the ACC defensive award. Scott had 23 votes, two more than Larkin. Third-place Michael Snaer of Florida State was well back in third place with seven.
“I think we’ve got a terrific backcourt,” he said, smiling.
The two players had praise for each other.
“He’s like the head of the defense,” Larkin said of Scott. “He’s always talking. He’s letting everybody know where he is on the court and when he needs help and when he doesn’t need help, when he has your help. He’s just really vocal on defense, and when you’re vocal, it really helps your defense.
“And he leads the team in floor slaps this year.
“He’s just a great defensive player. He always guards the best player on the other team. It’s a well deserving award.”
Scott, on the other hand, named Larkin his choice for top defensive player.
“Sometimes he motivates me,” Scott said. “When I see him rev it up on defense and gets a couple steals, it gets the team going and gets me motivated to go out there and try to get a charge of try to get a steal and help my team defensively.”
Both players will be key to Miami’s continued success in the postseason.
As the top seed, the Hurricanes have a bye in the upcoming ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., and won’t play until Friday’s quarterfinals. They will face the winner of Thursday’s first-round game between Georgia Tech and Boston College.
Tourney semifinals are Saturday, the final on Sunday.