Friday, March 25, 2005

Summitt's celebration over for now

KNOXVILLE — The innocent flower man had no idea he was stirring up something that the Lady Vols would have preferred to forget about for now.

He walked up in the middle of Tennessee's practice yesterday with orange-yellow roses for Coach Pat Summitt, who surpassed Dean Smith as the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history with her 880th career win against Purdue on Tuesday night.

''I thought I was going to a funeral when I went into my office today,'' Summitt said. ''I don't think I've ever seen so many flowers.''

With Summitt's milestone win coming in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, she did everything she could to put the focus on her team advancing to the Sweet 16, not on her career win total.

The Lady Vols (28-4) will play Texas Tech (24-7) in Philadelphia at 11 a.m. on Sunday, and flowers or not, that's all Summitt is thinking about now.

''I met with the staff, and everybody is watching tape on them,'' Summitt said. ''I thought we got through a lot of what we needed to do today.''

But the celebration lasted long into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Summitt went home to a crowd of her family and friends and said she didn't get around to watching the film of the Purdue game until nearly 3 a.m.

She was up to do a radio show by 7:15, and she had watched the film a second time before meeting with the team to watch film of the Lady Raiders.

Summitt's players are taking the same approach.

''We haven't really talked about it,'' senior point guard Loree Moore said. ''We kind of celebrated it (Tuesday night) and had our fun with it. Now we're focusing on Texas Tech.

''I think maybe after the season and down the line, we'll all get together and talk about it and appreciate it a lot more than we are right now.''

After the game Tuesday, UT officials revealed that the court at Thompson-Boling Arena would be renamed ''The Summitt.'' The players gave Summitt a hard time about it after the game, and assistant coach Holly Warlick stopped by Summitt's house Tuesday night to tease her.

''Holly said when they got mad at me, they were going to go over and stomp on 'The Summitt,' '' Summitt said.

That has all become secondary now though.

The focus has switched over to how to slow down a Texas Tech team that has four players averaging double digits.

''I don't think we're facing anything that we can't handle,'' freshman Nicky Anosike said. ''It's going to be a challenge, and we're just going to have to bring something extra to set us apart.''

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