Cooper-Dyke, Azzi to be inducted

Updated: June 12, 2009, 7:41 PM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- When Tennessee would travel to play Louisiana Tech in the early days of the teams' rivalry, coach Sonja Hogg would bring Pat Summitt to her house after the game so she could wash the Lady Volunteers' dirty jerseys.

It's that kind of friendship and cooperation that has made women's basketball so special, said Hogg, the longtime Lady Techsters coach who is among the six 2009 inductees to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame here.

"We would try to kill each other on the floor and in recruiting battles too, but when we stepped off the floor we were friends, we were colleagues," said Hogg, who also coached at Baylor.

Hogg started the Louisiana Tech program while teaching physical education there and nicknamed the team the Lady Techsters because she didn't want her players to be known as "Bulldogs." Under Hogg, the Lady Techsters won the inaugural NCAA championship game in 1982 after winning the AIAW Championship the previous season.

An exhibit honoring Hogg, Jennifer Azzi, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Jennifer Gillom, Jill Hutchison and Ora Washington was unveiled Friday. The class was to be celebrated at a ceremony Saturday night.

Azzi is one of three Olympic gold medalists in the new induction class.

After leading Stanford to the national championship and winning the Wade Trophy and Naismith Player of the Year award, the All-American Azzi won a gold medal with the 1996 women's Olympic basketball team. She also played five seasons in the WNBA.

"It's not just about me, it's about all the coaches and teammates and players and everybody that has been involved in my career," Azzi said of being inducted. "That's what I've loved about the game my whole life, that it brings people together."

Cooper-Dyke won a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics. She was a national champion at Southern California in 1983 and 1984 and a four-time WNBA champion with the Houston Comets.

She was the first WNBA player to reach 2,500 points. Cooper-Dyke now coaches at Prairie View A&M.

"The players of today don't necessarily see the game the way I saw it," Cooper-Dyke said. "The opportunities that we have now -- 20, 30, 40 years ago they just weren't there."

Gillom, who was hired as head coach of the Minnesota Lynx on June 3, won gold with the 1988 Olympic team and went on to play with the Phoenix Mercury for six years and the Los Angeles Sparks for one.

She made two appearances in the NCAA regional semifinals with Mississippi, where the sports complex is named for her and her sister Jennifer.

Hutchison spent 28 seasons coaching Illinois State, guiding the program to three NCAA tournaments and six WNIT appearances. She served as the first president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and testified at the U.S. congressional hearings on Title IX.

"To have watched the game go from where we started to where we are now and to feel that somebody thought I was a part of that is very meaningful," Hutchison said.

Washington was a legendary African-American basketball and tennis player. She starred as the center for the Philadelphia Tribunes for 18 years, losing only six games -- all to men's teams.

The late Washington is a member of the Black Athletes Hall of Fame and the Temple University Sports Hall of Fame.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press