LA ROCQUE COACH OF THE YEAR AS MW HONOR ANNOUNCED
Jackson named Sixth Person of the Year, Vegas trio selected all-conference
For the second time in three seasons as a head coach, Lindy La Rocque’s conference counterparts voted her as their best.
La Rocque was named Mountain West Coach of the Year and Kiara Jackson was voted Sixth Person of the Year as the conference’s postseason honors were announced Sunday.
Essence Booker, Justice Ethridge and Desi-Rae Young—all Las Vegas natives—were the Lady Rebels’ representatives on the All-Mountain West Team. Ethridge and Young were also selected to the Mountain West All-Defensive Team.
The conference’s coaches voted for the awards. They were not allowed to vote for their own players.
UNLV won its second straight regular-season conference crown, this year with a five-game lead. The Lady Rebels went 18-0 against the league with an average margin of victory of 15.6 points.
UNLV was the fourth team in Mountain West history to run the regular season undefeated against conference opponents, and only the second since the introduction of an 18-game schedule (Colorado State, 2016).
La Rocque was coach of the year in her rookie season when she led one of the nation’s youngest teams to the conference’s highest win total in a COVID-altered season.
For the first time since 1994, the Lady Rebels appeared in the AP Top 25, debuting at No. 23 on Feb. 13. The Lady Rebels’ 28-2 overall record all but guarantees their best win-loss record since 1990. UNLV is ranked in Division I women’s basketball’s top 20 teams in scoring offense, scoring margin, rebound margin, field-goal percentage defense, assist-to-turnover ratio and fewest turnovers.
Booker ran the show as point guard for the conference’s top-scoring and shooting team. She ranked eight in scoring among all Mountain West players and her four 20-point performances were the third most. She was also the only player in the league to have multiple double-digit assist games. In conference games, Booker ranked fourth in field goal percentage and fifth in assists per game.
In addition to being one of the Mountain West’s top defenders, Ethridge was the conference’s most efficient offensive player. Ethridge led the Mountain West in points per play among all starters, topped effective field-goal shooting and had the highest individual offensive rating. Her 2.5 assists per game were the second-highest among non-point guards. She also had the fifth-best assist-to-turnover ratio and was the leader among non-point guards.
Young, the reigning player of the year, improved in every statistical category in 2022-23. She finished conference play as the second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, averaging 17.8 points and 10.4 rebounds despite ranking 17th in minutes played. Her on-court efficiency (+45.2 points per 100 possessions) rated seven points higher than the next-best player. She led conference win shares by more than a game over the second-highest total by a player in the league. She counted nine double-doubles in 18 games; the second most by an individual was five.
Jackson follows in the footsteps of teammate and reigning Sixth Person of the Year Nneka Obiazor, who missed most of the season with a knee injury. The sixth player is defined as one who has started fewer than five conference games. Jackson averaged 24.6 minutes per game for the league’s leading team in scoring offense, scoring margin, assists, field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage. Her 7.9 points per game and 2.2 assists ranked third and first, respectively, among non-starters.
UNLV is the reigning Mountain West Tournament Champion and begins its title defense as the No. 1 seed. The Lady Rebels will face either 8-seed UNR or 9-seed Nevada at the Thomas & Mack Center Monday at noon.