The Basketball Hall of Fame and Chip Hilton Sports have announced that Mason’s Coach Jim Larranaga is the 2006 recipient of the Coach Clair Bee Award.
Five of the nation’s premier basketball coaches were named as finalists for the 10th annual prestigious Clair Bee Award, to be presented by the Basketball Hall of Fame and Chip Hilton Sports during the Final Four in Indianapolis on April 3 at the Hall of Fame’s “Family Brunch” at the Marriott Indianapolis Downtown.
Coach Jim Larranaga shows off the cover of a recent Sports Illustrated magazine that featured Mason player Lamar Butler.
Creative Services photo
The Coach Clair Bee Award honors the Active Division I men’s basketball coach who has made the most significant positive contribution to his sport during the preceding year. The winner reflects the character and professional qualities of Clair Bee, a Hall of Fame coach whom many consider the best technical basketball coach in history and a man who cared deeply about his players’ well-being.
The other finalists for the Clair Bee Award were Pat Flannery (Bucknell University), Karl Hobbs (George Washington University), Ben Howland (University of California, Los Angeles) and Mark Turgeon (Wichita State University).
Larranaga and the Patriots (27-7) are enjoying their first trip to the Final Four in school history with George Mason being the first 11 seed to make the Final Four since LSU in 1986. In his ninth season, Larranaga is 166-104 (.615) overall, and 112-59 (.655) in Colonial Athletic Association play as the coach of the George Mason basketball program. In more than 21 years as a head coach, he has a career record of 364-273.
This season, the Patriots have won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time, set a school record with 27 wins and defeated two top-10 teams (University of Connecticut and University of North Carolina) for the first time in school history.
Clair F. Bee, the late Long Island University coach and Hall of Famer, compiled an .826 lifetime winning percentage, still the best in major-college coaching history. Known as the “Innovator,” Bee’s influence on the game also extended to strategies, (1-3-1 zone defense), (3-second rule), sports camps (Camp All-America and Kutsher’s Sports Academy), writing technical coaching books and conducting coaching clinics around the world.
By the time he left coaching in the 1950s, Clair Bee had already begun writing the Chip Hilton Sports Series, which are considered the top sports fiction series ever written. Chip Hilton Sports and the Basketball Hall of Fame began presenting the awards in 1997 as a way to honor outstanding excellence and character in college basketball during the past season.
The selection committee is composed of: Jay Bilas, Dave Gavitt, Bob Hammel, Bob Knight, Pete Newell, Billy Packer, Dean Smith, Dick Vitale and Kevin Weiberg. Tom Izzo of Michigan State University was the 2005 Clair Bee Award winner.