Cooper attempts to steal sign from UB's student section
Following Tuesday’s Ohio win, guard curses fans for bikini poster
The True Blue student section, including medical school student Jeffrey Herendeen (with cape, holding the sign of D.J. Cooper), cheers during Tuesday night's game, which Ohio won 72-69. Courtesy of University at Buffalo Student Experience
One of the best players in the Mid-American Conference may have gotten into an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie amount of trouble.
After Ohio's come-from-behind win over the men's basketball team in Alumni Arena Tuesday night, Bobcats standout senior guard D.J. Cooper stole a sign, which portrays him wearing a bikini top, from UB's student section. Cooper took the sign while True Blue, UB's official student fan club, was distracted - the members were chanting "We Know Buffalo!" for a promo video for WKBW, Buffalo's Channel 7 affiliate.
True Blue recovered the sign near Ohio's team bus later that evening. Ohio's athletic department stated it does not have a comment on the situation at this time.
Jeffrey Herendeen earned his bachelor's degree from UB in 2012 and he is currently in the medical school. He is known as True Blue's "Cape Guy" for the outfit he wears to games.
"Somebody pushed past the girls and walked over to the D.J. Cooper poster, which was sitting along the bleachers," Herendeen said. "We realized it was him, and he grabbed it and basically said something along the lines of: 'I'm taking this s**t.'
"He was just swearing as he stormed off with it. He gave us the middle finger, visibly upset about it."
Herendeen said True Blue's officers, understanding Cooper's frustration, decided to let it go and avoid a confrontation. He was unsure if Cooper left the sign outside the arena intentionally.
The game marked his last trip as an athlete to Alumni Arena, where fans owning the sign have taunted him for the past three years. A USA Today story printed in March 2012 states: "[Cooper's] success has made him a bit of a villain who gets booed around the MAC. And in a game at Buffalo this season one fan sitting in the front row doctored a poster-sized photo of Cooper to have him wearing a bikini."
However, the photo is not doctored. It appeared on Cooper's Twitter account in July 2010 along with another photo of him wearing the top and a photo of bikinis at Wal-Mart. In a tweet that has since been deleted, Cooper (@DJCoop5) claimed he was paid to wear the outfit.
Mark Pereira received his Master's degree in economics from UB in 2011. Known as "Top Hat Guy," Pereira started the bikini tradition in 2011.
"I knew it was always good to dig up some dirt on players, so that's what we did every game," said Pereira, who saw the photo on a UBFan.com forum. "The first time we played Ohio after that, we made that giant poster and we printed out 500 copies of small sheets of him in a bikini and passed them out to the whole student section."
The student section chanted "D.J. Swimsuit!" often throughout Tuesday's game.
In the first half, Cooper hit a 3-pointer and pointed both hands at the section. When Cooper hit a pivotal three to put Ohio up 70-69 with 1:34 remaining, he stared at the students while slowly walking backward. Ohio won the game 72-69.
"When you play in Buffalo, you've got the crowd, the poster up - it's just a hostile crowd," Cooper said after the game. "I embrace that type of stuff. It gets me going. I don't think it's very smart for opposing teams to give a little fuel to the fire to one of the best players. I use it as motivation to basically step up and show 'em."
Cooper made NCAA history in the matchup. He became the first athlete to record 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in a career.
"The kid's a great player, but [he has] zero class," Herendeen said.
Buffalo and Ohio have developed a rivalry since Ohio defeated UB on a last-second tip-in in the MAC Championship game in 2005, and tensions were high throughout Tuesday's hard-fought game.
Herendeen said fans were also left discussing another post-game incident.
"[Ohio forward] Reggie Keely had an altercation with Javon McCrea's mom in the hallway," Herendeen said. "He walked back into the gym and he was yelling at her about something, and he took his jersey off and threw it on the ground."
Ohio swept its regular season series with Buffalo, 2-0, though there is a chance the two teams could meet again in the MAC Tournament, which will run March 11-16.
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