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UNLV names Lindy La Rocque as women’s basketball coach

Updated March 18, 2020 - 7:15 pm

For the second time in a row, UNLV is turning to someone with deep local ties to become its women’s basketball coach.

Lindy La Rocque, a star at Durango High School before going on to play for and coach at Stanford, was named the Lady Rebels’ coach on Wednesday, agreeing to a five-year escalating contract that pays $210,000 initially and rises to $300,000 by the final season of the deal.

“I am so thrilled to be able to come back to my hometown of Las Vegas to lead the UNLV women’s basketball program,” La Rocque said in a statement. “It is truly special to return to a place and in a community that has essentially raised and has supported me throughout all of my life. I have been a Rebel fan since I was a young girl and to now be the head coach at UNLV is truly a dream come true.”

The last time the UNLV women’s basketball coaching job came open, in 2008, the program went with one of its own in former Lady Rebels All-American Kathy Olivier.

An attempt to reach La Rocque on Wednesday for comment was unsuccessful. She and athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois will meet the media through a video conference call on Thursday morning.

“She’s smart, prepared, knows how to build a championship culture and cares deeply about Las Vegas,” Reed-Francois said in a text message.

La Rocque, 30, spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at Stanford, which made the NCAA Tournament the previous two seasons, reaching the Sweet 16 one year and the Elite Eight the next. This year’s NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, depriving the Cardinal, who went 27-6, of trying to make another deep run.

The Cardinal made the Final Four all four seasons that La Rocque was a player, between 2008-12, and they won the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament championship each year.

“I am thrilled for Lindy and this excellent opportunity for her to return to her hometown and further her career as head coach of UNLV,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said in a statement. “First as a player, then as a coach, Lindy has helped maintain the championship tradition of Stanford women’s basketball. I’ve been pleased to see her channel her high IQ both on and off the court to assist our program in every facet, including recruiting, compliance and academic efforts.”

La Rocque scored 2,678 career points at Durango, a school record for the boys’ and girls’ programs. Her dad, Al, coached the boys’ team between 1993-2007, going 280-176.

“Her mom and I are so proud because she’s a hard-working, energetic, real positive young lady,” Al La Rocque said. “But for us, she’s our baby girl, and we’re just really happy for her.”

Al La Rocque said the UNLV opening came on the radar when Stanford was in Las Vegas two weeks ago for the Pac-12 tournament at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Though Olivier resigned March 6, Al La Rocque said his daughter’s focus didn’t move toward UNLV until after Stanford was beaten in the championship game by Oregon on March 8.

“I could never foresee this happening,” Al La Rocque said. “It was like a chain of events where the stars line up.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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