In the 1974-75 season, Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebels assembled the best season of men’s basketball had actually had so far– 24-5 with a trip to the NCAA competition for the very first time.
Together with him was Dan Ayala. He had actually come to UNLV from Cal Poly Pomona, where he was the head coach of the males’s group, the season prior to work as Tarkanian’s assistant. But in the 1975-76 season, Ayala was all set to go back to the head coaching ranks, and UNLV had a second-year program in need of a leader– the Girl Rebels. Ayala, who passed away Sept. 17 at the age of 82, went on to become one of the winningest coaches in UNLV history, putting together a 109-23 mark over five seasons at the assistance of the females’s program.
He took over from Barbara Quinn, the first-year interim coach, and was tasked with preparing for the future of ladies’s basketball in Las Vegas.
“I mean to develop a great females’s basketball program that will be appealing to top gamers,” he stated prior to the start of the season. “For the first time, we have complete athletic scholarships readily available for women. Scholarships imply more chance and subsequently more tasks.”
Scholarships were an essential jumping-off point to drawing in top talent, but they weren’t Ayala’s only tool in the box.
Liz Galloway, who played for the Girl Rebels from 1975-1978, was, together with teammate Debby Waddy-Rossow, a standout at Temple Junior College in Temple, Texas, when Ayala came calling.
“He won my mom over,” Galloway remembered. “To see your child go cross-country, he allayed her fears. He just discussed what we might do and what we could achieve and how we would play.”
And Ayala might promote the exposure that playing in Las Vegas had. “I was simply starstruck when we first got there,” Galloway stated. “Lynn Swann remained in the gym. Costs Cosby, we saw him. We went to a gambling establishment just to eat. I keep in mind passing by a slots and seeing Redd Foxx– I’m not going to inform you that didn’t have a huge effect on us.
“But coach Ayala was the one. He was the charmer. He was the one who got us to think in what he was trying to do.”
Ayala lost no time. In his inaugural season, the team would go unbeaten in your home en path to a 26-5 mark. The previous Tarkanian assistant would obtain philosophically from his previous manager.
He wanted to implement the fast break with the Woman Rebels. And he required a squad that was capable of running end-to-end to do it. Existing females’s basketball coach Kathy Oliver discovered that quickly after transferring from Cal State Fullerton to play for Ayala from 1979 to 1981
“When I came over, I believed I was good,” Oliver stated. Ayala had established two groups of runners: the fast down-and-back gamers and the boundary players. “I was always a perimeter player, but he stuck me in with the other group of runners. I was actually troubled by that. Lastly, he put me back in the other group when he understood I could run. He felt in one’s bones how to push buttons.”
In the 1977-78 season, the group leapt out with 15 straight wins, a 23-2 record with losses to Kansas State in the regular season, and to UCLA in the Association for Intercollegiate Sports for Women regionals– one of 4 times Ayala took the group to the competition.
It was success, and it was uncompromising. Janie Fincher, who had been an All-American at Murray Junior College, landed at UNLV in 1977 with her last year of eligibility. She had some modifications to make.
“I just played half-court defense in high school,” Fincher said. “I can keep in mind doing some of the protective drills in Vegas that Ayala had us do and him informing me ‘You may be able to score, but until you play defense my way you’re not leaving the bench.’ Well I’m 24 and All-American, however he didn’t seem to care. I was pleased. I learned a lot about defense. Then I replicated anything Liz Galloway did or told me, due to the fact that she was one of the best defensive gamers I have actually ever played basketball with.”
Ayala left UNLV after the 1979-80 season, however he didn’t roaming far from the Lady Rebels.
Oliver, who ended up being the head coach at UCLA in 1993, discovered herself with the chance to come back to UNLV and take control of the program as its very first alumna in the top spot. She credits Ayala with working the phones behind the scenes to keep her name popular on school and in the community to assist his one-time protégé return to Maryland Parkway.
“When I initially got the job here, he was the very first guy to state, ‘What do you require? I wish to assist you.’ We required some video devices, and he contributed $10,000 to the Lady Rebels. He constantly was there for us. As much as he barked, he cared. That made such an impact on me. I was constantly going to ensure my gamers knew I cared. They’re going to strive for you since you care so much. And I always do.”