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Hundreds of fans offer huge sendoff as Miami Hurricanes head to Houston for Final Four

Team holds final practice in Coral Gables before leaving for Texas
Posted at 2:22 PM, Mar 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 17:03:01-04

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — A category five amount of energy is headed to Houston. The Miami Hurricanes had a final practice on campus Wednesday before departing for the Final Four.

A large crowd of fans and students gathered at the Watsco Center just before noon to cheer the team on as they boarded the bus to head to the airport.

The huge show of support for the men's basketball team is a testament to how loved this team is on campus and beyond Coral Gables.

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The crowd was wild, chanting and cheering for every single team member while the team boarded the bus.

It's true when Hurricane fans say they bleed orange and green. Some were decked out from head to toe in 'Canes colors.

Junior guard Isaiah Wong said this was a different feeling from the one the team experienced when they boarded the bus for the Elite Eight.

"It just feels good being in Miami right now," Wong said. "I feel like it hasn't set in yet. I'm just living in the moment right now."

The team has been looked at as an underdog all season and was picked by many national experts to lose their last three games. However, Miami topped them all, defeating Indiana, Houston and Texas in the last three rounds of the NCAA tournament.

Isaiah Wong shares his thoughts on Miami making their first Final Four.
Isaiah Wong shares his thoughts on Miami making their first Final Four.

That reality does not escape coach Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga. After the last practice on campus Wednesday, WPTV asked him about what it took to get here, knowing the basketball program was resurrected just 38 years ago, and just 20 years ago it got its own on-campus arena.

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"When my staff arrived here in 2011, that was our goal to create a tradition here of excellence," Larrañaga said. "The University of Miami is a fantastic school academically, a top 50 school in the country. It's won national championships in football and baseball, so we felt that our job was to compete at the national level and hopefully for a national championship, and after 12 years, we're doing that."

The coach went on to say how this is a non-traditional Final Four with San Diego State, Florida Atlantic University and Miami among the teams playing this weekend.

"I don't link anybody's bracket has the three of us," Larrañaga said. "Maybe they had UConn."

Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga speaks about the basketball program's success since he joined the team in 2011.
Hurricanes coach Jim Larrañaga speaks about the basketball program's success since he joined the team in 2011.

Larrañaga spoke highly of FAU's basketball team, recalling that when their Elite Eight team played the Owls last year in Boca Raton and won by only two points.

"The fact of the matter is FAU is a tremendous basketball team and program," Larrañaga said. "We have the utmost respect for their coaching staff and program."

Sophomore guard Bensley Joseph feels with two South Florida teams headed to the Final Four just adds to the excitement.

"Putting it out for the state of Florida and South Florida, just putting a name out there for ourselves," Joseph said.

All of the Hurricanes headed to Houston are celebrating seeing the success of the school's basketball teams this season.

"You know what that tells you?" fan JD Da Boss of the Metrorail Boyz asked. "We’re no longer only a football school. We're an athletic school. All of our teams are winning."

The hurricanes will spend the next two days practicing at the NRG Stadium in Houston, adjusting to playing in a dome and fine-tuning what communication will be like with more than 70,000 cheering fans.