KINGSTON, R.I. - University of Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn announced Daynia La-Force as the eighth women's basketball coach in program history Wednesday. La-Force will formally be introduced as the head coach during a meet-and-greet event on a date to be determined in mid-May.
She comes to Rhode Island after spending the last eight seasons at Northeastern, where she took over a struggling program and made it competitive in the CAA.
"We are thrilled to have Daynia La-Force as the new head coach of the URI women's basketball program," Bjorn said. "After going through an extensive nationwide search, with many exceptional candidates, we felt that Daynia brings all the criteria we were looking for when we started the process."
La-Force brings an exciting brand of basketball to Kingston, as she likes to employ the dribble drive offense, which spreads the floor and enables players to attack the basket. While at Northeastern, La-Force recruited current Rams Tayra Melendez and Kiara Palmer and is familiar with the talents of both current and incoming personnel. She believes the pieces in place can be effective with the system she will use.
"I want thank President Dooley, Thorr Bjorn and the members of the search committee for giving me the opportunity to lead the University of Rhode Island's women's basketball team," La-Force said. "During the interview process, I witnessed the passion and pride for URI Athletics and the desire for a successful women's basketball program.
"There is an undeniable commitment from the players, support staff, administration, and alumni to build something special here. The passion and pride of everyone associated with URI Athletics inspired me and helped me in making my decision to become a Ram. It also will be key in our women's basketball program becoming a force to be reckoned with within the Atlantic 10 Conference and nationally. My staff and I will work tirelessly to build a culture of respect, integrity and competitive excellence that the URI Family will be proud to support."
The first minority woman head coach in Rhode Island history in any sport, La-Force proved at Northeastern that she could rebuild a program. She took over the Huskies one year after they made the jump from the America East to the CAA. In her first season (2006-07), Northeastern struggled to a 4-26 mark, going 3-11 in league play. The following year, La-Force's squad went 14-16 overall for an improvement of 10 wins. The Huskies also made a five-game jump in CAA play with an 8-10 league mark that same year.
After stabilizing the program, La-Force had a breakthrough season in 2012-13, guiding Northeastern to a 17-13 overall record - including a 10-8 mark in conference play, en route to a fifth-place finish in the CAA. She earned CAA Coach of the Year honors, as the 17 wins marked the most for the program in 13 years while the 10 conference wins and fifth-place finish were NU's best since joining the CAA in 2004-05.
During her time at Northeastern, La-Force recorded the program's first-ever victories over CAA powers James Madison, Old Dominion and Delaware. In six of her eight seasons, La-Force and the Huskies exceeded preseason coaches' poll expectations.
Additionally, La-Force has coached 10 All-CAA performers, including Jewell Tunstull, who became Northeastern's first player to earn First Team All-CAA and All-Defensive Team honors this past season.
In her time as a head coach, La-Force has experienced success against Atlantic 10 teams as well, compiling a record of 9-5 against such programs. She has won five of her last six contests against A-10 competition. La-Force also comes to Rhode Island with a working knowledge of George Mason and VCU, having faced those programs in the CAA before they joined the A-10.
"Daynia has Division I head coaching experience, a reputation for doing things the right way and is a tremendous advocate and resource for student-athlete development," Bjorn said. "She is focused on the student-athlete experience. I am confident that Daynia is the right person to put us in position to compete for Atlantic 10 Championships and help us achieve our postseason aspirations."
Before going to Northeastern, La-Force spent one season as the head coach at New Haven (NCAA Division II), where she guided the Chargers to a 24-4 record as well as the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference championship title. For her efforts, she earned the league's Coach of the Year award for the 2005-06 season.
La-Force spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at the Division I level before ascending to the head job at New Haven. She was on the LIU staff from 1995-2002. In 2001, she was part of Blackbirds' 2001 Northeast Conference championship squad, advancing to the NCAA Tournament. From 2002-05, she was on the coaching staff at St. John's, earning a spot in the 2005 WNIT.
A 1995 graduate of Georgetown with a degree in psychology, La-Force was a four-year letterwinner for the Hoyas. As a sophomore, she was part of the 1993 Big East Championship team, helping lead the Hoyas to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
An active member of the National Women's Basketball Coaches Association and the Black Coaches Association, La-Force earned a master's degree in school psychology from Long Island University in 2000. La-Force has two sons, Terrance (17) and Martin (15).