USC great Cynthia Cooper-**** returns as coach

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 11, 2013
Hall of Famer Cynthia Cooper-**** is returning to Southern California as the Trojans' head women's basketball coach. USC hired Cooper-**** on Thursday to replace Michael Cooper, who quit last month after four seasons. ''In Cynthia Cooper-****, 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-****, 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-****'s four seasons, also reaching the 1986 NCAA title game. USC has never recaptured that run of standout play in the 1980s by Cooper-****, 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-**** 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-****, 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-****, 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-**** 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-**** 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-**** 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-****'s first season at the school in 2005-06, including small amounts of cash given to players. The NCAA ruled Cooper-**** hadn't been educated properly on its rules before her first season in college coaching. Cooper-**** and her sports agent husband, Brian, have 10-year-old twins.
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