Mark Trakh Returning To USC As Women's Basketball Head Coach|
April 21, 2017
Mark Trakh, who led USC and Pepperdine to NCAA Tournament appearances before guiding New Mexico State to NCAA berths the past three seasons, is returning to USC as its head women's basketball coach, USC athletic director Lynn Swann announced today (April 21).
"We are thrilled to welcome Mark back to USC," said Swann. "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. We found that coach in Mark Trakh. He has the experience and maturity to help our young team grow and develop.
"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."
Said Trakh: "I'm excited to once again be a part of the great tradition at USC. 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."
Trakh, 61, replaces Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who resigned last month after four seasons at USC.
As a college coach, Trakh has an overall record of 393-267 in 22 years, with eight NCAA Tournament trips, seven regular season championships and five conference Coach of the Year honors.
Trakh coached the Women of Troy for five seasons (2005-09). Despite a tenure hampered by injuries to key players that stalled promising seasons, Trakh's USC teams won at least 17 games all five seasons, advanced to a pair of NCAA tourneys (getting to the second round in 2005 and 2006 before falling to the eventual NCAA runner-up both seasons), reached at least the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tourney four times (his 2009 team was a finalist), never finished below fifth in the Pac-10 and went 8-3 against crosstown rival UCLA. His debut 2005 team won 20 games, tied for second in the Pac-10 race and made USC's first NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years, where it lost on a last-second basket in the second round.
His Women of Troy players made various All-Pac-10 teams 23 times and Pac-10 All-Academic squads 14 times, and he turned out two All-Americans and four WNBA draftees. He signed Top 10 recruiting classes four times, including the nation's No. 1 group in 2006, and seven of his signees were McDonald's All-Americans. Overall, he was 90-64 at USC, but resigned after the 2009 season for personal reasons.
After nearly two years off from coaching following his resignation from USC (he was associate head coach briefly at San Diego State in the 2011 season before leaving to attend to personal family matters), Trakh spent the past six years (2012-17) at New Mexico State, where he went 104-80 overall. In each of the last three seasons, his Aggies posted 20-plus victories while winning the Western Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships, and he was named the league's Coach of the Year each season.
His 2017 Aggie squad was 24-7 overall, including a perfect 14-0 WAC mark (NMSU's first perfect conference record), had a school record 17-game winning streak and it lost by just eight points in the NCAA first round to eventual NCAA finalist Stanford. That came on the heels of 2016's 26-5 team which tied the program record for season victories and consecutive wins (15). That year, he became just the fifth coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. His 2015 team, which was 22-8 overall, advanced to NCAA play for the first time in 27 years, posted the school's first winning record in WAC play (13-1) in seven years and won the program's first-ever WAC regular season and tournament titles.
In 11 years (1994-2004) at Pepperdine, Trakh went 199-123, won four West Coast Conference crowns and two WCC tournament titles, captured at least 20 wins six times, and made the post-season in each of his last six seasons (three NCAAs and three WNITs). He was the 1999 and 2002 WCC Coach of the Year. He coached two WCC Players of the Year and produced Pepperdine's first WNBA pick. His Wave teams had a 100% graduation rate during his time there.
Before entering the collegiate ranks, Trakh coached Brea (Calif.) Olinda High for 13 seasons (1981-93), compiling a 354-45 (.887) record while winning four California state championships and six CIF Southern Section titles. He also taught English at Brea Olinda. He is a member of the City of Brea Hall of Fame and the Southern California High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
In 1980, he was the boys' sophomore team coach at Western High in Anaheim (Calif.).
Trakh played basketball and baseball at Lakeland Regional High in Wanaque, N.J.
He then attended Fairleigh Dickinson and Fullerton College, where as a journalism major he was the sports editor of the student newspaper, before graduating from Long Beach State in 1981 with a degree in journalism (he also has his teaching credential).
Trakh was born on May 31, 1955, in Amman, Jordan. He moved to the United States at age four, living first in Connecticut and New Jersey before coming to California for college.
His younger brother, Maz, is an assistant coach with the NBA's Washington Wizards and previously was an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons and a scout with the Golden State Warriors. He also coached in the ABA, CBA, collegiately and overseas.
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 much positive 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."