(KTNV) LAS VEGAS — This time last year, UNLV was searching for its next women’s basketball head coach.
However, the right person was closer to home.
“(Lindy La Rocque’s) sister and I were friends and we worked together at Virginia Tech,” said UNLV athletics director Desiree Reed-Francois. “Ally being from Las Vegas would tell me about her sister Lindy.”
Lindy La Rocque was a decorated student-athlete at Durango High School in Las Vegas, and her father Alan, was a legendary coach here in town.
After finishing her collegiate playing career at Stanford University where she helped the team make it to the Final Four four times, she began coaching.
Reed-Francois would follow coach Lindy’s career closely as she went from being an assistant coach at Belmont University to the same position at her alma mater in Stanford.
This past March, while the Pac-12 tournament was being held in Las Vegas, Lindy started talking with UNLV.
“Lindy came into the office and she brought in these two pictures and they were both pictures of her as a Runnin’ Rebels ball girl,” said Reed-Francois.
After seeing those photos and talking with Lindy, Reed-Francois realized she needed her to be the next coach.
“I knew she was talented, I knew she was smart and I started to understand her character, but I loved the fact that she loved Las Vegas,” said Reed-Francois.
On March 18, 2020, the university officially made her the next coach, and that decision has paid off big.
The Lady Rebels were nowhere close to being a favorite to start this season, but in the first year under coach Lindy, the team earned the No. 2 seed in the Mountain West Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.
They also made some history.
The Lady Rebels finished 9-0 on the road, which is a school record. She also has the second most wins (15) in the nation by a first-year head coach this season. Only Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy has had more wins (16).
“It’s been a ride, it’s been a lot of fun, it’s been stressful, it’s been exhausting but it’s been overall so much fun,” said Lindy. “Thinking about why I wanted to be here, why I wanted to take this job, it’s so rewarding.”
Her team is also grateful that she decided to come back home and lead the program.
“I think at first there was some growing,” said Lady Rebels redshirt-senior guard Bailey Thomas. “She put me at point guard and I’m like what is this coach doing. I do not dribble the ball… Then we started winning and I saw the results. We have a great relationship with each other. We just had to get that trust. Yeah, I think we definitely have seen the great things (that) have come from coach Lindy.”
“I’m really glad that coach Lindy became our coach,” said freshman center Desi-Rae Young. “She is doing such an amazing job. She pushes us every day to be better and tougher, and just knowing we have someone on our side to push us, just makes us want to win more for her.”
Reed-Francois said coach Lindy’s impact can be felt on and off the court because she cares deeply for each student-athlete.
“They respect her, and they listen to her. She’s not just caring about them as basketball players but as people and it’s paying off dividends,” said Reed-Francois.
For Lindy, it’s all about her players and how she can help them out.
“I really love these ladies, and frankly, it’s about them. They are the ones playing on the court. They are the ones practicing every day, so I just try to make it about them and how I can be my best for them.”
Representing Las Vegas — her home — is also not far from her mind.
“I’m a product of this community just like anyone else,” she said. “It’s nice. It feels good because more than anything I’m like, ‘this is what our town deserves, this is what our university deserves, this is what our community deserves and this is what our team deserves.’ To see it come to fruition and have some success, it obviously feels great but more than anything I’m proud for our town and for our city.”
The Mountain West Conference Tournament tips off Sunday at 2 p.m. The Lady Rebels earned a bye for the first round and will play the winner of No. 7 Wyoming and No. 10 Utah State on Monday inside the Thomas and Mack Center at 5:30 p.m.