Pacific's Thomason bows out after 25 seasons at alma mater with 78-49 NCAA loss to Miami
AUSTIN, Texas – Bob Thomason now will have plenty of time to hit the links. He has put in his time as a coach.
Thomason's quarter-century run leading his alma mater, and more than four decades overall as a coach, ended Friday when Pacific lost 78-49 to No. 2 seed Miami in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament.
"I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow, but I have played golf only one time in five months," Thomason said. "I might call my buddy and go out there and play tomorrow."
Thomason had said last year that this season would be his last.
The Tigers (22-13) gave Thomason a 20-point win over Big West Conference regular-season champion Long Beach State in his final home game. They then won the league tournament for his fifth NCAA appearance.
But Pacific was no match for Miami (28-6), the Atlantic Coast Conference's regular season and tournament champions.
"Great team, great pieces. They played tremendous," said Thomason, who was 437-321 in 25 seasons at Pacific. "I'll be rooting for them the rest of the time, so maybe they can win a national championship. If I had to go out in coaching, you want to go out to a great team, but also to a great coach and a class coach, and Jim (Larranaga) is that."
Travis Fulton scored 18 points on six 3s for Pacific, while Khalil Kelley had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Kelley's three-point play with 14:35 left in the first half got the Tigers within 8-7, but they went more than 7 minutes before scoring again.
ACC player of the year Shane Larkin got the Hurricanes on a roll. He started a 14-0 Miami run with two free throws, then threw an alley-oop pass to Tonye Jekiri before scoring on a driving layup off the glass while being fouled and making another free throw.
"We knew it was going to be hard. They're a great team," Kelley said. "It seemed like their defense was the toughest part. They all have good length; they were all quick. So we had a hard time getting up good shots and it made it tougher to come back. It made it seem even harder."
Larranaga has so much confidence in Larkin that he pretty much let his only non-senior starter run the show.
With the sophomore point guard calling most of the offensive plays, Larkin made up for a tough shooting game by matching his career high with nine assists. Larranaga said he called only one or two plays and told Larkin "to run your team."
Durand Scott had 21 points with five 3-pointers for the Hurricanes, four of those long-range baskets on assists by Larkin, who was only 2-of-8 shooting but scored 10 points.
Larranaga took mid-major George Mason to the NCAA Final Four in 2006. That makes him the only ACC coach not at Duke or North Carolina to take a program that far — and he might be able to do it again, with his own ACC team.
The Hurricanes led by as much as 40-16 when Erik Swoope made two free throws with 6 seconds to go in the half. He was fouled while going up in the air in traffic trying to catch another alley-oop pass from Larkin.
Markus Duran swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Pacific, but the game was already well out of reach after the Tigers shot only 29 percent (7 of 24).
Thomason walked off the court at halftime with his left hand tucked in his pocket. There was only one half left in a coaching career that started on the high school level in 1971.
"People asked me all the time, like, 'How are you going to feel?'" Thomason said after the game "I've coached for 42 years. How do I know how I'm going to feel not coaching? I don't know those answers. I'm looking forward to it."