Friday afternoon, the Cynthia Cooper-Dyke era will officially begin at Texas Southern.
As such, the women’s basketball landscape in the Southwestern Athletic Conference is about to get a whole lot rougher.
TSU has called a news conference Friday to introduce Cooper-Dyke as its new coach, giving her a chance to return home to Texas and turn the Lady Tigers into a winner.
You remember Cooper-Dyke, don’t you? Of course you do.
The former WNBA star spent five years turning Prairie View into one of the two powerhouse programs within the Southwestern Athletic Conference (the other, of course, is Southern).
The Lady Panthers went 86-72 overall under Cooper-Dyke, winning three straight regular-season championships and two SWAC tournament championships (2006-07, 2008-09).
Cooper-Dyke resigned in 2010 to take over at UNC-Wilmington, which reached the WNIT in back-to-back seasons on her watch.
Prairie View, meanwhile, kept on rolling. The school promoted Cooper-Dyke’s former assistant, Toyelle Wilson. Since then, the Lady Panthers haven’t dropped off a bit. At 29, Wilson led the team to an upset over Southern in the SWAC championship game last season. Last month, Prairie View won the tournament again, upending Mississippi Valley State.
Assuming that Cooper-Dyke turns TSU into a powerful program — there’s no reason to think otherwise — that makes for three super-tough teams: Texas Southern, Prairie View and Southern. And by the way, other teams like Mississippi Valley and Grambling could be on the way up, as well.
Valley won its first regular-season championship this season under longtime coach Nate Kilbert. And although Donnita Rogers was reassigned, Grambling signed a strong recruiting class and has one of the best facilities in the conference.
Translation: Sandy Pugh’s job could be a little tougher now.
The good news is, she’s back to coaching full-time.