KNOXVILLE — When does a college basketball coach ever pull for the coach on the other end of the floor to win?
Purdue Coach Kristy Curry says she will tonight when her Boilermakers play Pat Summitt's top-seeded Lady Vols. Summitt can break Dean Smith's record for career wins by an NCAA basketball coach by beating Purdue.
''To a certain degree in my heart, I have to be pulling for her a little bit,'' Curry said. ''That is human nature.
''(Tonight) is going to be special. Either you are going to do something special in a very tough environment, or it is going to be special because you're pulling for Coach Summitt, and how can you not?''
Summitt isn't buying it though.
''That may be before the ball is thrown up,'' Summitt said. ''I think there are a lot of coaches throughout the country, a lot of coaches in the women's game that have been nothing but complimentary of our program and the winning tradition we have had over the years.
''But I guarantee when the game starts, I don't think there will be anyone in black and gold cheering for Tennessee.''
Curry's team isn't going to step aside and let Summitt have the record, but she said she recognizes what this record means for the women's game.
''I just respect and admire her as a mom and as a basketball coach,'' Curry said. ''She is what we aspire to be like. We hope to have a little bit of the impact on the game that she has had.''
Ely's choice: Tennessee senior Shyra Ely has never had the opportunity to play Purdue, which is about 45 minutes from her home in Indianapolis.
But Ely is very familiar with the Boilermakers. As the 2001 Naismith Prep Player of the Year from Ben Davis High School, Ely had her school choice narrowed down to Purdue and Tennessee.
''I'm really close to their assistant coach Katrina Merriweather, because her father was my AAU coach,'' Ely said. ''I grew up idolizing her. ''
Ely and fellow Indiana native Shanna Zolman said they keep in touch with several Purdue players.
''Just to be able to play an Indiana team, it's an opportunity that we don't get that often,'' Zolman said.
Knee surgery: Freshman Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood had surgery yesterday on her left knee, team officials announced.
She has not played since February because of tendinitis in the knee.
The guard appeared in 13 games this season, averaging 3.9 points.