USC women's basketball: A players' program

Dhon Santos/Santos Photography

SAN FRANCISCO – While the Women of Troy haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2006, there is quite the storied hoops program in Los Angeles. With two national championships and three NCAA Final Fours to its name, USC made 13 of the first 16 NCAA tournaments from 1982-1997. There have been some great ones to come through Troy (Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie, for starters), and one of them – Cynthia Cooper – is back in town to take over the reins.

A top-10 all-time scorer in USC women’s hoops history, Cooper helped lead the Trojans to the 1983 and 1984 national titles. After that, she won four WNBA titles with the Houston Comets. After that, she led Prairie View A&M (which had never had a winning season prior to her arrival), UNC Wilmington and Texas Southern to postseason berths as their head coach. Winning is in her blood more than Charlie Sheen’s.

So, the key to success for the Women of Troy in 2013-14 is to just completely emulate the head honcho. Sound the trumpets, USC is going retro and bringing it back to the ‘80s… Hold up on that thought, says Cooper.

“I don’t want to bring back anything other than a mentality; I really want this to be about the current players,” Cooper said. “I’ve made it about these players. This is their program, and they’re the ones that are going to be out there on that court.”

As far as style of play is concerned, the first-year head coach kept it simple.

“I like to run, don’t I, Cassie?” Cooper said, turning to senior forward Cassie Harberts.

“Score, score, score!” Harberts quipped back.

Sounds like USC is going to have to borrow that Arizona men’s hoops slogan.