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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

USC women's Coach Michael Cooper touches off war of words

Cooper directed an expletive at UCLA after his Trojans' home victory over the Bruins last month. He expects verbal reprisals during rematch Saturday in Westwood.

February 13, 2010|By Baxter Holmes

Coop knows it's coming.

The USC women's basketball coach -- full name, Michael Jerome Cooper, of Lakers fame -- knows Saturday morning's game at UCLA will feature a heavy downpour of vitriolic comments, all aimed at him.

"They're going to have a pretty nice crowd," Cooper said, "and I'm pretty sure they're going to be yelling and screaming" at him. .

That thought comes after Cooper raised a hullabaloo by directing an expletive at UCLA during the news conference after last month's 70-63 USC win over the Bruins.

Why'd he say it? He won't say. "I already said what I said and I made my apologies. That's it."

UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell has no idea either. "There was no tension in the game," she said.

Moreover, during her years at Tennessee (11, four as a player), she couldn't remember any comments on the level of what he said. "I don't recall anything like that, even with the rivalry with Connecticut," she said.

But unbeknownst to Cooper, Caldwell technically started the trash-talking the morning of the game, when she posted on her Twitter account, "Game Day!!! Check out UCLA vs. U$C. . . ."

"I'm adopting the UCLA way, and that's something everybody around here does," she said of the "U$C" tag.

Both said bygones are bygones, but Cooper expects to hear some serious comments Saturday. "I'm bulletin board material," he said, smiling.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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