Basketball Hall of Famer Cynthia Cooper-Dyke–who as a player helped lead USC to a pair of NCAA championships before winning an Olympic gold medal and four WNBA titles, and then as a head coach resurrected three collegiate programs–formally addressed the USC community on Tuesday as head coach of the Women of Troy.
Cooper-Dyke was greeted by cheers at Galen Center, where nine of her former teammates were among the crowd. These teammates and a flock of other people witnessed Pat Haden officially introduce his second basketball head coach in just under two weeks.
“I am so incredibly excited,” Cooper-Dyke exclaimed. “As a head coach, this is my dream. My dream was to come back to Los Angeles and be at the helm of the USC women’s basketball team.”
After starring as a guard with Cheryl Miller and twin sisters Pam and Paula McGee at USC, Cooper-Dyke won four WNBA championships with the Houston Comets, and played professionally in Spain and Italy. This success has kept Cooper-Dyke grounded for the journey back to prominence in her second go-around in Southern California.
“My team is a fantastic and wonderful group of very talented young women,” Cooper-Dyke said. “I look forward to working with them in order to build confidence and build a culture [with] an attitude of winning.”
Cooper-Dyke posted a 150-106 record in eight seasons as head coach at Texas Southern, North Carolina-Wilmington, and Prairie View A&M. She also ventured into the realm of professional coaching leading the Phoenix Mercury–who just snagged Brittany Griner with the first pick–going 19-23 in her brief one-and-a-half-year career.
The Trojans finished last season with an abysmal 11-20 record, including losing nine out of the last ten games in the middle stretch of the season. Cooper-Dyke has witnessed two open-court practices, watched hours of film and has met with her players already loving what she sees.
“They are a talented bunch of women, and now it’s time for us to go out there and reach our true potential.”
Cooper-Dyke brings intelligence, excitement and talent to the USC sidelines. To her new team, the new head coach for the Women of Troy seems to truly love her university.
“She literally bleeds cardinal and gold,” Cassie Harberts said. “She’s a Trojan at heart. I think she’s always going to be a Trojan, and it’s exciting to have one of our own here.”
The next challenge for Cooper-Dyke will be to captivate here excitement for Cardinal and Gold into luring in the next generation of Trojans. “You want your competitive juices going, go out and recruit on the road.”
“That is about as competitive as it gets; you have 300 coaches going for these five players. Recruiting has been my thing and I have been on fire.”
The Trojans return four starters next season, only losing forward Cristina Marinacci from last seasons 14-women roster under the direction of Michael Cooper.
Check out the full press conference here as the Women of Troy officially have their leader in place to resurrect this once dominant Women’s Basketball Program, that reigned supreme when Cynthia Cooper-Dyke played on the court.