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Kara Lawson named Duke women’s basketball head coach

The former Wizards color analyst and Mystics alumna is headed to Durham to coach the Blue Devils, a program with a strong history but also a recent decline.

Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards
Kara Lawson was the Wizards’ TV color analyst just two years ago.
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

On Saturday, Duke University announced that Kara Lawson was named the head coach of their women’s basketball team. The Blue Devils were 18-12 in the 2019-20 college basketball season while also being 12-6 in ACC play. Lawson replaces Joanne P. McCallie, who spent 13 years in Durham, North Carolina. McCallie resigned abruptly before entering what would have been the last year of her contract.

Lawson was finishing her first season as an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, but here in the DMV, she’s best known as the Wizards’ color analyst from 2017-19 where she was alongside Steve Buckhantz for play-by-play. Also, as a long-time WNBA player, she played her last two seasons with the Washington Mystics from 2014-15.

Duke’s women’s basketball team has traditionally been one of the strongest in the country, especially in the 2000s, when Alana Beard, Monique Currie and Lindsey Harding all played under then-head coach Gail Goestenkors. Coincidentally, Beard, Currie and Harding are Mystics alumnae, just like Lawson.

Duke’s women’s basketball program has declined in recent years. Under McCallie, Duke remained a strong team in the ACC, but they weren’t a national contender. They also missed the NCAA tournament in three of their last five seasons. They haven’t made the Final Four since 2006, when they were national runner-ups to Maryland.

I’m really happy to see that Lawson is taking the next step in her career, where she looks to bring Duke back as a national championship contender. Congratulations Coach Lawson!