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Cynthia Cooper-Dyke

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Title: Cynthia Cooper-Dyke  
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Subject: Diana Taurasi, Sheryl Swoopes, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
Collection: 1963 Births, African-American Basketball Coaches, American Expatriate Basketball People in Italy, American Expatriate Basketball People in Spain, American Women's Basketball Coaches, American Women's Basketball Players, Basketball Players at the 1987 Pan American Games, Basketball Players at the 1988 Summer Olympics, Basketball Players at the 1992 Summer Olympics, Basketball Players from Illinois, Houston Comets Players, Living People, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees, Olympic Basketball Players of the United States, Olympic Bronze Medalists for the United States, Olympic Gold Medalists for the United States, Olympic Gold Medalists for the United States in Basketball, Olympic Medalists in Basketball, Phoenix Mercury Coaches, Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers Basketball Coaches, Shooting Guards, Sportspeople from Chicago, Illinois, Sportspeople from Los Angeles, California, Texas Southern Tigers Women's Basketball Coaches, Unc Wilmington Seahawks Women's Basketball Coaches, Usc Trojans Women's Basketball Players, Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke
USC Trojans
Position Head coach
League Pacific-12 Conference
Personal information
Born (1963-04-14) April 14, 1963
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality American
Listed height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Listed weight 150 lb (68 kg)
Career information
High school Locke (Los Angeles, California)
College USC (1982–1986)
Pro career 1986–2003
Position Guard
Number 14
Coaching career 2001–present
Career history
As player:
Houston Comets
As coach:
2001–2002 Phoenix Mercury
2005–2010 Prairie View A&M
2010–2012 UNC Wilmington
2012–2013 Texas Southern
2013–present USC
Career highlights and awards

As player:

As coach:

  • CAA Coach of the Year (2010)
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

Cynthia Lynne Cooper-Dyke (born April 14, 1963)[1] is a former American basketball player who has won championships in college, the Olympics, and in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She is considered by many as one of the greatest women's basketball players ever.[2] In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history. She played for the Houston Comets from 1997–2000 and again in 2003. On April 11, 2013 she was introduced as the head coach for the University of Southern California women's basketball team. In her first season as head coach at USC, she led the Women of Troy to their first Pac-12 conference championship and consequently, their first NCAA tournament bid since 2006.


  • Head coaching record 1
  • Personal 2
  • Early years 3
    • High school 3.1
    • College 3.2
  • Career 4
    • Team USA 4.1
    • International 4.2
    • WNBA 4.3
      • Career statistics 4.3.1
        • Regular season
        • Playoffs
  • College coaching career 5
  • Halls of Fame 6
  • Awards and achievements 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Prairie View A&M (SWAC) (2005–2010)
2005–06 Prairie View A&M 7-21 6-12 T-8th
2006–07 Prairie View A&M 19-14 14-4 T-1st NCAA 1st Round
2007–08 Prairie View A&M 22-12 15-3 1st WNIT First Round
2008–09 Prairie View A&M 23-11 17-1 1st NCAA 1st Round
2009–10 Prairie View A&M 15-14 12-6 2nd WNIT First Round
Prairie View A&M: 86–72 (.544) 64–26 (.711)
UNC Wilmington (Colonial Athletic Association) (2010–2012)
2010–11 UNCW 24-9 14-4 T-2nd WNIT Second Round
2011–12 UNCW 20-13 11-7 T-4th WNIT First Round
UNCW: 44–22 (.667) 25–11 (.694)
Texas Southern (SWAC) (2012–2013)
2012–13 Texas Southern 20-13 16-2 1st WNIT First Round
Texas Southern: 20–13 (.606) 16–2 (.889)
USC (Pacific-12 Conference) (2013–present)
2013–14 USC 22-13 11-7 T-4th NCAA 1st Round
2014–15 USC 15-15 7-11 T-7th
USC: 37–28 (.569) 18–18 (.500)
Total: 187–135 (.581)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


Although born in Chicago, Illinois, Cooper-Dyke grew up in South Central Los Angeles, California. Cooper-Dyke is the daughter of Mary and Kenny Cooper. Her father left the family when she was only six years old, leaving her mother to raise eight children.[3] Cooper-Dyke attended the University of Southern California, and played on their women's basketball team for four years, but left in 1986 before earning a degree. She played on international women's basketball teams (Spain and Italy) for a decade before returning to the US to play for the Houston Comets. While abroad she learned to speak Italian fluently.

In 2000, she published her autobiography, entitled She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey, which covered her childhood, her basketball career up to that time, and her mother's battle with breast cancer.

Her first marriage was on July 30, 1993 to Anthony Stewart in San Antonio, TX. On April 28, 2001 she was married to Brian Dyke. She is a mother to twins, a son, Brian Jr., and a daughter, Cyan, born June 15, 2002.

After a successful college and professional basketball career, won four WNBA Championships and an Basketball Hall of Famer, Cynthia turned to coaching Women's Basketball. She began her coaching career in 2005 at Prairie View A&M University in Texas and guided the team to three SWAC Championships. While at the university, Cooper-Dyke turned student and coach and completed college requirements and earned the Bachelor's Degree in Health and Human Performance from Prairie View A&M University in 2010.

Early years

High school

She attended Locke High School before enrolling at the University of Southern California. Cooper participated athletically in both track and field as well as basketball. She led her team to the California State Championship (4A) scoring an average of 31 points per game, and scoring 44 points in one game. Cooper was named the Los Angeles Player of the Year.[3]


Cooper was a four-year letter winner at guard for USC from 1982–1986. She led the Women of Troy to NCAA appearances in all four years, Final Four appearances in three of her four years, and back-to-back NCAA tournament titles in 1983 and 1984.[3] After the 1984 Championship, she briefly left school, but was persuaded to return. She completed four years with USC, although she did not graduate.[4] Cooper closed out her collegiate career with an appearance in the 1986 NCAA tournament championship game and a spot on the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team. Cooper ranks eighth on USC’s all-time scoring list with 1,559 points, fifth in assists (381) and third in steals (256). While Cooper was at USC, the Women of Troy compiled a record of 114–15.[3]


Team USA

Cooper was named to represent the USA at the 1981 William Jones Cup competition in Taipei, Taiwan, while still in high school. The team won seven of eight games to win the silver medal for the event. Cooper scored 2.8 points per game and recorded nine steals.[5]

Cooper was selected to represent the USA at the inaugural Goodwill games, held in Moscow in July 1986. North Carolina State's Kay Yow served as head coach. The team opened up with a 72–53 of Yugoslavia, and followed that with a 21 point win over Brazil 91–70. The third game was against Czechoslovakia and would be much closer. Cheryl Miller was the scoring leader in this game, scoring 26 points to help the USA to a 78–70 victory. The USA faced Bulgaria in the semi-final match up, and again won, this time 67–58. This set up the final against the Soviet Union, led by 7-foot-2 Ivilana Semenova, considered the most dominant player in the world. The Soviet team, had a 152–2 record in major international competition over the prior three decades, including an 84–82 win over the USA in the 1983 World Championships. The Soviets held the early edge, leading 21–19 at one time, before the USA went on a scoring run to take a large lead they would never relinquish. The final score was 83–60 in favor of the USA, earning the gold medal for the USA squad. Cooper averaged 2.0 points per game.[6]

Cooper continued to represent the USA with National team at the 1986 World Championship, held in Moscow, a month after the Goodwill games in Moscow. The USA team was even more dominant this time. The early games were won easily, and the semifinal against Canada, while the closest game for the USA so far, ended up an 82–59 victory. At the same time, the Soviet team was winning easily as well, and the final game pitted two teams each with 6–0 records. The Soviet team, having lost only once at home, wanted to show that the Goodwill games setback was a fluke. The USA team started by scoring the first eight points, and raced to a 45–23 lead, although the Soviets fought back and reduced the halftime margin to 13. The USA went on a 15—1 run in the second half to out the game away, and ended up winning the gold medal with a score of 108–88. Cooper averaged 5.9 points per game.[7]

Cooper played for USA Basketball as part of the 1987 USA Women's Pan American Team which won a gold medal in Indianapolis, Indiana. Cooper was a member of the gold medalist 1988 US Olympic Women's Basketball Team.,[8] and the Bronze Medal team in 1992.[9]


Cooper played for several teams in the European leagues:[3]

  • Samoa Bétera (Spain) 1986–1987 (36.7 ppg)
  • Parma (Italy) 1987–1994
  • Alcamo (Italy) 1994–1996

During her time playing for Samoa Bétera, a Spanish team, she was the league leading scorer with 36.7 ppg. During the almost ten years she played in the Italian leagues, she was the leagues leading scorer eight times, and finished second the other two years.[3]

In 1987, she was the MVP of the European All-Star team. She was also named to the Al-Star team of the Italian leagues in 1996–1997.[3]


At the age of 34, Cooper signed on to play with the Houston Comets. She led the league in scoring three consecutive years, galvanizing the franchise to a record four WNBA Championships. In addition, she was voted the WNBA's MVP in 1997 and 1998 and named Most Valuable Player in each of those four WNBA Finals. Cooper was named the 1998 Sportswoman of the Year (in the team category) by the Women's Sports Foundation.[10] During the Comet dynasty, she was a vital part of the triple threat offense with Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson. When retired in 2000, Cooper became the first player in WNBA history to score 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 2,500 career points. She scored 30 or more points in 16 of her 120 games and had a 92-game double-figure scoring streak from 1997–2000. She went on to coach the Phoenix Mercury for one and a half seasons (2001-2002)[11] .

Cooper returned as an active player in the 2003 season, but announced her final retirement from professional basketball in 2004. Her appearance in the game, as a 40-year-old, made her the oldest player, at the time, to play in a WNBA game.[3]

Afterward, she served as a TV analyst and halftime reporter for the Houston Rockets of the NBA. Cooper has also been named one of the top 15 players in the WNBA at the 2011 WNBA All-Star game.[12]

Career statistics

Regular season

College coaching career

In May 2005, Cooper was named the Head Coach of the women's basketball team at Prairie View A&M University.

Cooper's impact at Prairie View was immediate. In just her second season, Cooper led the underdog Panthers to the SWAC tournament title, netting the school its first-ever Women's NCAA Tournament bid.

In January 2008 the NCAA penalized Prairie View for NCAA rules violations committed by Cooper, reducing the number of scholarships for the team. The school was placed on four years' probation for "major violations" in 2005–2006 that ranged from Cooper giving players small amounts of cash to various forms of unauthorized practices.[13] Cooper also gave players free tickets to Comets game, which is another NCAA infraction.

On May 10, 2010, she was announced as the next Head Coach of the UNC Wilmington Seahawks Women's Basketball team.[14] During her first year at UNCW, Cooper was named CAA Coach of the Year.

On April 10, 2012, Cooper resigned from UNC Wilmington and became the head coach at Texas Southern. The move gave her the opportunity to return to Houston where she spent a lot of time as a player.

On April 11, 2013 she was introduced as the head coach for the University of Southern California women's basketball team.[15][16]

Halls of Fame

Cooper was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.[17] She was also announced as a member of the 2010 induction class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (the first WNBA player to be so), and was formally inducted on August 13 of that year.[18]

Awards and achievements


  1. ^ "Women's Basketball Coaches Career". NCAA. Retrieved 22 Sep 2015. 
  2. ^ "90. Cynthia Cooper, Basketball". Sports Illustrated for Women. Retrieved 20 Oct 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Porter p. 88–89
  4. ^ Grundy p. 199–200
  5. ^ "1981 WOMEN'S R. WILLIAM JONES CUP". USA Basketball. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "First Women's Goodwill Games -- 1986". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Tenth World Championship For Women -- 1986". USA Basketball. August 14, 2013. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Games of the XXIVth Olympiad -- 1988". USA Basketball. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  9. ^ "Games of the XXVth Olympiad -- 1992". USA Basketball. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  10. ^ "Sportswoman of the Year Award". Women's Sports Foundation. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  11. ^ "COACHES - Cynthia Cooper". WNBA. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Division I Committee on Infractions Penalizes Prairie View A & M University Women's Basketball Program". NCAA. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  14. ^ "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke Leaves Prairie View for UNC-Wilmington". HBCU Digest. Retrieved 16 May 2010. 
  15. ^ Klein, Gary (April 12, 2013). "Cynthia Cooper-Dyke to coach USC women's basketball". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  16. ^ Fisher, Brian (April 11, 2013). "USC will hire TSU's Cynthia Cooper-Dyke as new head women's basketball coach". Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  17. ^ "WBHOF Inductees". WBHOF. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  18. ^ "Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2010" (Press release). Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2010-04-05. 


  • Cooper, Cynthia (June 1, 2000). She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey. Grand Central Publishing.  
  • Grundy, Pamela; Susan Shackelford (2005). Shattering the Glass. The New Press. p. 175.  
  • David L. Porter, ed. (2005). Basketball: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Press.  

External links

  • Cynthia Cooper at
  • News and Q&A interview regarding Cooper's coaching hire at Prairie View A&M University
  • Cooper leads PV to first ever NCAA tournament
Preceded by
Cheryl Miller
Phoenix Mercury Head Coach
Succeeded by
Linda Sharp
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