Tamara Inoue has been named head coach of the UC Irvine women’s basketball program, announced by Athletic Director Mike Izzi.
She becomes the ninth head coach in UCI women’s basketball history after serving five years on the staff at New Mexico State University.
“Tamara has a great presence and is highly motivated,” Izzi said. “She was the lead assistant on a staff that produced back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, is a tireless recruiter and has a clear vision for our women’s basketball program.
“She is the perfect person to elevate UCI Women’s Basketball into a program that can compete for conference titles in the near future.”
Inoue, who received a five-year contract, takes over leadership of the UCI program after serving as the associate head coach at New Mexico State under head coach Mark Trakh, including the last two seasons when the Aggies competed in the NCAA Tournament.
Inoue also served as interim Senior Woman Administrator for New Mexico State Athletics this past year.
She has ties to Orange County and the Big West Conference as she played at Laguna Hills High School and Long Beach State.
“I am excited and honored to be UCI’s next women’s basketball coach. I can’t wait to dive right in and get started with this team,” Inoue said. “UCI has so much to offer with its world-class education and athletic programs. I want to thank Mike Izzi and the entire UCI Athletics Department for allowing me the opportunity. I am extremely happy to be back in Orange County.
“To my team at New Mexico State University, my head coach Mark Trakh, Athletic Director Mario Moccia and the entire University and Las Cruces community, my experience there has been nothing short of fantastic. I am grateful to have worked beside such great people,” Inoue added.
With Inoue as the associate head coach, NMSU made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances after capturing consecutive Western Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The Aggies ended this past season with a 26-5 overall record, which tied the school record for single-season victories.
In her first season as associate head coach in 2014-15, Inoue helped New Mexico State to a 22-8 record and a 13-1 league mark. It was the first conference title for the Aggies in 20 years and the first-ever tournament championship for the program. New Mexico State made the NCAA Tournament for only the third time in program history and the first since 1988.
In the absence of Trakh at the 2014 WAC Championship, Inoue stepped in and led the Aggies to the semifinals for the first time since 2008. She directed the Aggies to a come-from-behind win over fourth-seeded Texas-Pan American in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 seed Idaho.
Inoue was instrumental in the development of WAC Player of the Year and WAC Tournament MVP Brianna Freeman. Inoue also coached six other Aggie players to All-WAC honors and 14 players to All-Academic accolades.
Inoue joined the Aggie coaching staff in 2011 after three seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara University.
She spent six years playing and coaching in Australia. Her professional playing career was cut short due to injury, but following rehabilitation she returned to coach in Australia’s Victorian Basketball League (VBL).
Inoue played at Long Beach State from 2000-2002 after beginning her career at Cal. She was a two-time All-Big West honorable mention selection with the 49ers (2001 and 2002), earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2002.
As a senior, Inoue led the Big West in assists, averaging 5.9 per game. In her junior year she finished second in the league in assists (4.6) while averaging 9.6 points per game. Inoue also shot 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc as LBSU advanced to the third round of the 2000 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
Inoue is a graduate of Laguna Hills High, where she was a USA Today honorable mention All-American as a senior after averaging 14.0 points per game in 1997. A two-time league MVP, she set single-game school records for points (30), assists (12) and steals (12).
At UCI, Inoue replaces Doug Oliver, who retired following the end of the 2015-16 season.DI Head Coach Inoue