Cynthia Cooper, a star on Houston Comets teams which won the first four WNBA titles, was at Target Center on Saturday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX.

She was one of the pioneers in women's athletics honored during the game.

Cooper was the MVP of the WNBA in 1997 and '98 and the Finals MVP all four years the Comets won league titles.

She was asked at halftime how she would fare against Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore of the Lynx if she was still in her prime.

"I would have tore them up," said Cooper, now the women's basketball coach at Texas Southern. "Cynthia Cooper at age 23 was much different than Cynthia Cooper at age 33. But I would tell that you that over the years, I have grown and developed. And that is what I see in the players nowadays."

What Cooper was referring to was, she didn't start playing in the WNBA until her early 30s. When she graduated from Southern Cal, after leading the Trojans to NCAA titles in 1983 and '84, she had to go overseas to play women's pro basketball. There was no WNBA.

She played for about 10 years in Spain and Italy. But when she returned to the U.S., Cooper was still able to lead the WNBA in scoring three times. And she, Sheryl Swoops and Tina Thompson were the cornerstones of the team.

Cooper averaged 21 points in her five-year WNBA career.

Looking at the Lynx, Cooper said, "I see Maya Moore continue to grow. I see Seimone Augustus evolve as a player and become MVP [of last year's Finals] and a leader in this league. And that is always great to see. And that let's me know that I have left the WNBA in good, capable hands.

"We have players in the WNBA that can get it done and that can pass on that torch to the younger generation."

She said most of her players at Texas Southern google her to learn about their coach.

"They see what I was capable of doing and they challenge me," said Cooper, 49. "So, yes, I do get out on the court with my players and tear them up every chance I get. No, I am only good for about five minutes and about five points. But that is a heck of a five points."

She said her players ask her how she did it. "And I am glad to pass on that passion," Cooper said. "That knowledge. That energy that I had as a player and I want them to have as a player. And then every once in a while I say, 'This is the technique I am trying to teach you. Wait a minute. You are doing it wrong.' And I get out on the court and show them and they are always impressed with that."


The 2012 FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament has started in Ankara, Turkey. There are 12 teams there and the top five will advance to the London Summer Games

Three will be assigned to Group A, which so far has Angola, China and the U.S.

Group B, which will get two more teams, so far is made up of Australia, Brazil, Great Britain and Russia. Seems a lot tougher than Group A.

Anyway, first day results from Ankara:

Croatia 84, Mozambique 62

Czech Republic 70, New Zealand 51

Turkey 65, Puerto Rico 53 ... Ex-Lynx player Quanitra Hollingsworth had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Turks.

Canada 89, Mali 23

Argentina, France, Japan and Korea play their first games on Tuesday. The tournament runs through July 1.

* Damiris Dantas, the young 6-4 center/forward the Lynx draft with the No. 12 pick of the WNBA draft in April, is playing for Brazil's Olympic team. The center on that team is 6-5 Erika de Souza of the Atlanta Dream.