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Cheryl Miller, USC's two-time All-America forward and an all-world dancer, loaded her giant tape player with ammunition. "See," she said, "the team doesn't get started till Miller shows up with her box. We hate to stretch before games, so we dance. Gets us real loose. Robot. Backslide. Moonwalk. Even Coach [Linda] Sharp dances."
Miller, a 6'2" sophomore, plunked her box down in the middle of the locker room and turned the volume up—way up. Out blared The Go-Go's, an all-woman rock band from Los Angeles, playing This Town is Our Town, a song about owning L.A. Fingers snapped. Hands clapped. Everybody bumped and shook along with the music. "It's our theme song," Miller explained. "The Women of Troy want to own L.A."
By winning its second straight NCAA women's basketball championship on Sunday—USC outscored, out-passed, outdanced and just plain outflashed Tennessee 72-61 at Pauley Pavilion in, you got it, L.A.—Southern Cal took care of that. That's if it really needed any taking care of. After all, nobody but the Women of Troy themselves seemed to have any doubts that they already were in full possession of the place.
The Trojan women, especially Miller and the 6'3", 170-pound McGee twins, Pamela and Paula—perfect (size) 10s—have never had a hard time getting a table anyplace in town. That's thanks to the sports information department at USC, a.k.a. the University of Social Calendars, which believes more in personal appearances than press releases and works with the school's women athletes on grooming and etiquette and critiques all interviews. No wonder Miller and the McGees are easily the most recognizable women athletes in L.A., and the Women of Troy the most visible team in women's basketball.
This season Miller and the twins averaged five or six interviews a week with the print media. The trio made nearly 75 television appearances, from interviews on the local channels to spots on nationwide shows like Real People. Why, on March 28, two days before USC's semifinal game with No. 2-ranked Louisiana Tech, Miller went to the NBC studios in Bur-bank to appear live on the Today show at 5:10 a.m. PST. That meant getting up at 3:30. "I sure wasn't alive," Miller said afterward. Imagine John Thompson or Guy Lewis agreeing to let his star player do that two days before an NCAA semi.
The folks in Tinseltown are still talking about Miller's guest appearance on the Grammy Awards show in February, when she came out of nowhere, slammed a ball through a basket and upstaged Donna Summer, who was singing She Works Hard for the Money. "I've never been so nervous," said Miller, who at 19 is already the best woman player ever. "I was afraid the ball would bounce off my foot and hit Michael Jackson or somebody in the audience."
The McGees were a hit a while back on Thicke of the Night, when they easily beat host Alan Thicke and actor Elliott Gould at two-on-two. "Now, if we can just get on Johnny Carson," Pam says. "Or even David Letterman," says Paula.
Tom Selleck is a close friend of the USC players. Michael Warren and Veronica Hamel of Hill Street Blues try not to miss a game. Magic Johnson hangs out with the McGees. Dinner with Dr. Jerry Buss, Laker owner and USC alum, isn't unusual, nor are chitchats with the likes of recent Buss dinner guests, Lee Majors and Cicely Tyson. President Reagan, California Governor George Deukmejian and L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley keep in touch by mail. "We're very Hollywood," Pam says.
All the glitz—"It's a form of intimidation," says USC sports information director Elise Frantom—helped get the Women of Troy back to the Final Four, after they started the season minus two starting guards, Rhonda Windham, who tore up her right knee at last summer's National Sports Festival, and Cynthia Cooper, who was ruled academically ineligible for the first semester. And the glitz didn't exactly hurt USC when it came to tournament time. Southern Cal blew out Long Beach State 90-74 in the West Regionals two weeks ago. Cagney and Lacey were there for moral support. Then, in the national semis last Friday, the Women of Troy intimidated the small-town girls from Louisiana Tech 62-57. "USC is a lot of hype," the Lady Techsters' pig-tailed senior point guard. Kim Mulkey, had said before the game. Mulkey, who had had one of the best games of her career, 19 points and 10 assists, in a Jan. 3 win over Southern Cal in Ruston, La., was shut out and committed eight turnovers Friday.
"I knew USC was going to win after I saw some of the Louisiana Tech kids run into Mr. Goodwrench in their hotel lobby," said Dereck Andrade. a student assistant in the USC sports information department. "They thought that was a really big deal."