“We are thrilled to welcome Mark back to USC,” athletic director Lynn Swann said in a statement. “It was important for us to hire a coach who really wanted to be at USC, who truly cares about our student-athletes and who believes in the Trojan way of excelling.
“Mark is a great teacher of the game. Players enjoy playing for him. He is a very effective recruiter. And he has a knack for taking teams to the NCAA Tournament, which we look for him to continue doing.”
Trakh, 61, coached at USC from 2004 to 2009, compiling a 90-64 record, including a 52-38 mark in conference play. The Women of Troy made the NCAA tournament in Trakh’s first two seasons, but his final three seasons began a seven-year NCAA tournament drought.
“I’m excited to once again be a part of the great tradition at USC,” Trakh said in USC’s release. “The goal and expectation is always to get to the Final Four. I feel that there is a ton of potential in this team and I look forward to start working with them.
“I really want to reignite the tradition of excellence that we have at USC. It all starts with recruiting and coaching up the women and helping them succeed. I also look forward to coaching again in the Pac-12, which is filled with great teams and coaches and is really a conference of national contenders.”
The once-proud Trojan program that won back-to-back championships in 1982-83 and 1983-84 has made the NCAA tournament just four times in the last 21 years, including Trakh’s two trips to the spring dance.
Trakh takes over for Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who resigned on March 3 after an injury-marred 56-41 record in three seasons. After winning the Pac-12 tournament to earn the conference’s automatic bid in her first season, the Trojans finished 13-23 in Pac-12 play the last two years.
Exactly two years after resigning from USC, Trakh was hired by New Mexico State on April 8, 2011 where he’s turned around a team that went 6-24 in his first season to the conference frontrunner in the WAC. The Aggies went 43-2 in conference regular season and tournament play the last three years, winning the conference regular season and tournament titles each year. Trakh has been named the WAC Coach of the Year all three seasons.
Before his first stint at USC, Trakh coached for 11 years at Pepperdine where he won four WCC titles.
From USC's press release:
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT MARK TRAKH
--Former USC All-American and 2-time All-Pac-10 first team guard Shay Murphy, who then played on WNBA and Euroleague championship teams: “Having Mark Trakh become my head coach at USC was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. Coach Trakh brought so muchpositive energy and recruited not only good athletes, but great people who are still my close friends today.”
--Former USC guard Jacki Gemelos, who went on to play in the WNBA and overseas: “I’m so thrilled for Coach Trakh and for USC. He has always loved USC and I really believe that this is the beginning of a new chapter for USC women’s basketball. He’s going to do great things there.
“Coach Trakh brings something that you can’t find in all coaches. He has a soft side and he has a hard, demanding side, and it’s difficult to find someone who can balance those so well. Through all my injuries, he had a way of being good to me but also made sure that I was held accountable even though I wasn’t able to play. I think everyone needs that from a head coach. He gave me confidence by helping me remember what kind of player I was when I came in, and he never let my injuries discourage me.
“As a coach, his system works really well. He allows his players to shine and assigns roles for every player. I learned a lot from him, not just basketball-wise but as a person.”
--Former USC All-American and 3-time All-Conference guard Briana (Gilbreath) Butler, who played in the WNBA: “It made my day to hear that Coach Trakh is back at USC. He was amazing in my recruiting process and made me feel like family immediately. We had a very open and fun team and an enjoyable, loving atmosphere. We wanted to succeed for each other and for our coaches.
“He’s the kind of coach who knows when to nurture you and when to get on you. He knows how to push his players to be the best they can possibly be. He also understands that when you get to college you have a lot of growing to do. He wants to get the best out of you on and off the court. I was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and that was due to him pushing me to be better and demanding more of me. He gave me the opportunity to show what I could do as a freshman and he had confidence in me. He really molded me and instilled a work ethic in me, building a core to help me succeed as a pro.”
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