Cooper Hired

The wait is over as USC officially hired Michael Cooper this afternoon. He joins the program after the Sparks season ends in late September or early October. Ervin Monier, the associate head coach at Rhode Island, will run the program over the summer as his associate head coach.
Here’s the release:

LOS ANGELES-Los Angeles Sparks head coach and former Los Angeles Lakers great Michael Cooper has been named head coach of the USC women’s basketball team, effective at the completion of the Sparks’ 2009 season in late September/early October, USC athletic director Mike Garrett announced today (May 1).
Joining Cooper’s USC staff will be long-time collegiate and high school assistant Ervin Monier, who will oversee the Women of Troy program as associate head coach until Cooper’s arrival.
“We are absolutely thrilled to hire a coach of Michael Cooper’s caliber,” said USC athletic director Mike Garrett. “This is an exciting time for Women of Troy basketball. Between Michael’s coaching experience and his playing background, he brings so much to the table. He has coached and played at the highest level and with the greatest players in the world. He’ll be an excellent in-game coach, he’ll do a great job preparing his teams and he’ll wow the recruits. And I’ll say this: we’ll be a strong team defensively.
“He already has begun assembling a terrific coaching staff. Until he finishes his duties with the Sparks, our team will be under the outstanding care of Ervin Monier, who is a very accomplished coach.”
Said Cooper: “I’m very honored to have this opportunity to coach at a great university with such a rich tradition in women’s basketball. My philosophy has always been about winning championships, and at USC we want to do that as well as graduate our players and make sure they enjoy their basketball experience. I’m looking forward to working in a collegiate atmosphere and all that comes with it.
“But for the next few months, it’s important to understand that my focus and commitment will be with the Los Angeles Sparks and winning a championship. I’m excited about the Sparks’ upcoming season and I am totally devoted to them right now. After that, I’ll switch gears and be equally excited about USC.”
Cooper replaces Mark Trakh, who resigned last month after 5 seasons guiding the Women of Troy.
Cooper, 53, has spent 7 seasons (2000-04, 2007-08) as the Sparks’ head coach, not including the upcoming 2009 season. He has compiled a 160-72 (.690) regular-season record, plus 23-13 (.639) in the post-season. He has won 5 Western Conference titles and guided the Sparks into the WNBA playoffs 6 times, winning the WNBA Championship in 2001 and 2002 (and finishing as runner-up in 2003). He was the 2000 WNBA Coach of the Year in his debut season.
He served as a special assistant to Lakers general manager Jerry West for 3 years before joining the Lakers coaching staff for 4 seasons (1994-1997). He returned to the NBA in 2005 as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets, including a stint as interim head coach. He then became the head coach of the NBA Development League’s Albuquerque Thunderbirds for 2 seasons (2006-07), winning the NBA D-League Championship in 2006 and posting a 50-48 (.510) regular-season record.
Cooper had a 12-year (1979-90) playing career with the “Showtime” Lakers and was a member of 5 NBA Championship teams (1980-82-85-87-88). Known for his defensive prowess, he made the NBA All-Defensive Team 8 times and was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. He finished ranked in the Lakers’ Top 10 in 3-point field goals (428), games played (873), minutes played (23,635), steals (1,033), blocked shots (523), assists (3,666), defensive rebounds (2,028) and free throw percentage (.833). He played professionally in Italy in 1991 with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma.
He attended Pasadena (Calif.) High and then Pasadena City College before starring at New Mexico, where he made the All-Western Athletic Conference first team as a senior in 1978. He was selected to the Lobo Hall of Honor in 1992.
Active in the community, he was presented with the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 1986 by the Pro Basketball Writer’s Association and the Commitment to Excellence Award during the 2007 Los Angeles Sports Fans Choice Awards.
Born April 15, 1956, Cooper has 4 children: Michael II, 28, Simone, 24, Miles, 19, and Nils, 4.
Monier, 47, spent the past 5 seasons (2005-09) as the associate head coach at Rhode Island and also served as the recruiting coordinator. Before that, he was an assistant for Dawn Staley for 4 seasons (2001-04) at Temple, helping the Owls to a pair of Atlantic 10 titles and 3 post-season berths. At Temple, he recruited a pair of WNBA first round picks (Candice Dupree and Kamesha Hairston).
He began his coaching career as an assistant at Hawthorne (Calif.) High for 6 years (1986-91), then moved to Los Angeles (Calif.) Southwest College for 5 years (1992-96). He became an assistant at Washington Prep High in Los Angeles in 1999, then at Chadwick High on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in 2000. He also taught at the middle school and high school levels in the Los Angeles Unified School District during that time.
He played at St. Martin DePorres High in Detroit, Mich., Los Angeles Trade Technical College and St. Mary’s in San Antonio, Tex., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1985. He played and coached in the NBA-sponsored Los Angeles Summer League from 1989 to 1995. He is single.
“I’m excited to get back to the West Coast and help USC restore its tradition of successful women’s basketball,” said Monier. “I’ve been fortunate to work with some great coaches like Dawn Staley and Tom Garrick. Now, I get a similar opportunity to join with Michael Cooper.”
The USC women’s basketball program has won 2 NCAA titles (1983-84), played in 4 Final Fours and made 20 post-season appearances since first fielding a team in 1977. It has produced some of the game’s greatest players, including Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson, Cynthia Cooper and twins Pam and Paula McGee.
This past season, the Women of Troy went 17-15 overall, tied for fourth in the Pac-10 with a 9-9 mark and made it to the Pac-10 Tournament final for the first time in history.