One of the most decorated players in the history of women's basketball, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke returns for her second season as head coach of the UNCW women's basketball program after a record-breaking debut in 2010-11.
Cooper-Dyke led the Seahawks to their most successful campaign last season, guiding the squad to a school-record 24 victories and its first postseason appearance with an at-large berth in the 2011 Postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament. UNCW was victorious in its first postseason contest, recording a 63-54 victory over Richmond before falling to Eastern Michigan in the second round.
Cooper-Dyke was named CAA Coach-of-the-Year, marking the third time in her six-year collegiate coaching career that she has earned Coach-of-the-Year accolades. Freshman point guard Alisha Andrews garnered CAA Rookie-of-the-Year honors, while seniors Brittany Blackwell and Martha White were First and Second-Team All-Conference selections, respectively. All three players were named to the league's All-Defensive Team.
Cooper-Dyke also achieved a personal milestone during the season, recording her 100th collegiate coaching victory with an 85-68 triumph at Northeastern on Jan. 23, 2011.
Before the season began, Cooper-Dyke was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on August, 13, 2010. Part of the largest induction class in the Hall of Fame's history, Cooper-Dyke was enshrined along with Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen, longtime LA Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, St. Anthony's (N.J.) high-school coach Bob Hurley, Sr., as well as former players Dennis Johnson, Gus Johnson and international star Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira, all of whom will be honored posthumously. Also included in the enshrinement ceremony were the 1960 and 1992 US Men's Olympic teams.
The former college great, Olympic gold medalist and Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) Most Valuable Player was named the ninth head coach in UNCW's history on May 10, 2010 following a successful five-year stint at Prairie View A&M in central Texas.
Cooper-Dyke joined the Prairie View program in May of 2005 and guided the Panthers to their first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) regular season title, SWAC Tournament crown and NCAA Tournament berth in 2006-07, collecting conference Coach-of-the-Year honors.
PVAMU repeated as SWAC regular season champions in 2008 and 2009 under Cooper-Dyke. The 2008 club made its first appearance in the WNIT and Cooper-Dyke was voted SWAC Coach-of-the-Year for the second time in 2009 after leading the Panthers to their second NCAA Tournament appearance.
Born in Chicago but raised in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, Cooper-Dyke was a four-year standout at Southern California, where she sparked the Women of Troy to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1983 and 1984. She later completed her Bachelor's Degree at Prairie View A&M.
Cooper-Dyke collected five medals while representing the United States. She won a gold medal at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, captured gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, claimed gold at the 1986 and 1990 FIBA World Championships and won bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
Cooper-Dyke began her professional career overseas and played 10 seasons in Spain and Italy. She returned to the United States in 1997 to play with the Houston Comets of the newly-formed WNBA.
She subsequently led the Comets to four consecutive WNBA championships and was named WNBA Finals MVP four times. Cooper-Dyke was voted the league's MVP in 1997 and 1998 and was a four-time WNBA All-Star before retiring in 2000.
Cooper-Dyke moved into the coaching ranks in 2001 as the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury and spent two seasons on the sidelines before returning to the Comets' playing roster briefly until an injury curtailed her season in 2003. She announced her final retirement prior to the start of the 2004 campaign and finished as Houston's all-time leader in scoring (2,601 points), free throw percentage (.871) and assists (602).Cooper-Dyke, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, has also been active beyond the basketball court. In 2000, she published her autobiography, "She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey," chronicling her childhood, basketball career and her mother's battle with breast cancer.
The Cynthia Cooper-Dyke File
University of Southern California
Prairie View A&M
Hall of Fame Inductions