USC great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke returns as coach
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hall of Famer Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is returning to Southern California as the Trojans' head women's basketball coach.
USC hired Cooper-Dyke on Thursday to replace Michael Cooper, who quit last month after four seasons.
"In Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, we have a proven winning coach who happens to be a USC basketball icon,'' USC athletic director Pat Haden said. "She was a part of the best basketball ever played here at USC, and she has seen success at so many levels of the game. As a coach, she has turned around several programs. We believe she can lead USC back to successful women's basketball.''
Cooper-Dyke, who grew up in Los Angeles and attended Locke High School, played on the Trojans' NCAA championship teams in 1983 and 1984 alongside Cheryl Miller. USC went 114-15 during Cooper-Dyke's four seasons, also reaching the 1986 NCAA title game.
USC has never recaptured that run of standout play in the 1980s by Cooper-Dyke, Miller and twin sisters Pamela and Paula McGee under coach Linda K. Sharp. After eight mostly successful seasons as a head coach at three schools, Cooper-Dyke thinks she's ready to put the Trojans back on top.
"If you were to ask me what my dream job was at any point in my coaching career, I would always have said my dream is to come back and lead the USC women's basketball team,'' said Cooper-Dyke, who turns 50 on Sunday.
USC finished 11-20 last season in the fourth year for Cooper, who resigned March 13. Cooper, no relation to Cooper-Dyke, went 72-57 with the Trojans, who never reached the NCAA tournament under the former Lakers guard and Los Angeles Sparks head coach.
After starring at USC, Cooper-Dyke had a lengthy professional career in Spain, Italy and the WNBA. She also played extensively for the U.S. national team, winning a gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
After joining the nascent WNBA's Houston Comets in 1997, she won the league's first four consecutive titles - winning the WNBA finals MVP award each time - along with three scoring titles and two MVP awards before retiring in 2000. She became the first WNBA player enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Cooper-Dyke coached last season at Texas Southern, where she won a school-record 20 games just one year after a five-win season. She also has been a head coach at UNC Wilmington and Prairie View A&M, compiling a combined 150-106 record as a head coach.
"I feel like the different programs I've been a part of, from Prairie View A&M to UNC Wilmington to Texas Southern, have prepared me in many ways for the Pac-12 and USC,'' Cooper-Dyke said. "We've been successful at these programs. I can't promise it will happen in a year like it did at these other programs, but I promise we will put forth our best effort as a staff to create a program that embraces the work ethic and mentality that will help us be successful.''
Prairie View A&M was hit with four years of NCAA probation and three years of scholarship restrictions in 2008 for violations that occurred during Cooper-Dyke's first season at the school in 2005-06, including small amounts of cash given to players. The NCAA ruled Cooper-Dyke hadn't been educated properly on its rules before her first season in college coaching.
Cooper-Dyke and her sports agent husband, Brian, have 10-year-old twins.
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