Monday, March 21, 2005

UT’s celebration on hold

KNOXVILLE — Pat Summitt has said all along that she would have preferred to do this during the regular season.

Fans might feel the same way now.

Summitt can break North Carolina legend Dean Smith's record for all-time wins by an NCAA basketball coach tomorrow night when the Lady Vols play Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

After the Lady Vols' 94-43 win over Western Carolina last night, Summitt and Smith each have 879 career wins.

Even though the game will be on Tennessee's home floor, the tournament is controlled by the NCAA — which means the Lady Vols have no control over any postgame celebration ceremony if they win.

Summitt will be presented with the game ball following the game, and there will be a statement at the postgame news conference.

When Summitt won her 800th career game in Knoxville, the athletics department put on quite a show — dropping balloons and confetti and presenting her with a cake that read ''800.''

Smith was extended an invitation to attend tomorrow night's game, but he is on a family vacation that is scheduled for this time every year.

The game will tip off at approximately 9:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPN2.

There were discussions earlier in the week that the network might make it the 7 p.m. game to permit an interview with Summitt during the halftime show of the second game.

Despite Smith's absence, Thompson-Boling Arena will have some special guests on the potentially historic night.

Bridgette Gordon, a two-time Kodak All-American under Summitt at Tennessee, will stick around for the game. She is an assistant coach at Stetson, which lost to No. 1 seed LSU 70-36 in Knoxville yesterday.

Former Lady Vols player Kara Lawson is going to fly in after she finishes her responsibilities as a commentator for ESPN at the women's tournament games being played in Fresno, Calif.

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