Latest Nevada Las Vegas Coach Steps Down : College basketball: Citing pressure of the job, Landa turns over position to Edwards while both await Grgurich’s return.
The soap opera that is Nevada Las Vegas basketball this season took another unexpected twist Monday.
Howie Landa, who had stepped in to take over the coaching duties for the ailing Tim Grgurich, resigned.
Landa was the Rebels’ third coach in a little more than than 14 weeks. Rollie Massimino, Grgurich’s predecessor, accepted UNLV’s cash offer to terminate his contract on Oct. 14.
Landa, 63, cited the pressure of the job when informing UNLV interim president Kenny Guinn of his decision. The task of coaching UNLV immediately was passed down the line to assistant Cle Edwards.
“We don’t want somebody under pressure or trying to do too much,” Guinn said of Landa’s decision. “I think it needed to be done. (Landa) had indicated the pressure was building.”
Edwards made his head-coaching debut Monday night in a Big West Conference game against Long Beach State at the Pyramid. The 49ers defeated UNLV, 74-73, in overtime.
Landa, who did not accompany the team to Southern California, will remain with the program as an administrative assistant, a UNLV spokesman said.
Grgurich, a longtime assistant to former coach Jerry Tarkanian, is the man charged with restoring the West Coast’s formerly second-best program to glory. However, it has proved a more formidable challenge than Grgurich initially thought.
He has not coached the team in games since early January after being hospitalized and showing signs of exhaustion. Since then, Grgurich has received medical clearance to resume administrative duties and has coached the team in practice.
It is still not certain when he will resume full coaching duties. Guinn said he wants a decision soon about Grgurich’s future plans.
Under Landa, the Rebels compiled a respectable 5-2 record. But he was worried that he might be thrust into the position much longer if Grgurich’s condition did not improve. He recently told a booster group he was quitting at the end of the season, then retracted the statement when Grgurich told him he would return.
In Monday night’s game, senior forward Terrance O’Kelley made one of two free throws to give Long Beach State (9-6, 5-3) its overtime victory before 4,713.
O’Kelley, who had team highs with 19 points and nine rebounds, rebounded junior guard Eric Brown’s missed three-point attempt and was fouled by UNLV forward Reggie Manuel with 3.6 seconds to play. He made the first free throw and missed the second. The Rebels then could not get off a good shot attempt as time ran out.
Las Vegas (7-8, 4-5) rallied from an eight-point deficit and sent the game into overtime on junior forward Clayton Johnson’s three-point shot with 40 seconds remaining in regulation.
Long Beach senior center Joe McNaull scored all 17 of his points in the second half.
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