Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Summitt keynote for spring commencement

Pat Head Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history and a UTM alumna, will deliver the spring commencement address at UTM.

Commencement will be at 11 a.m. May 14, in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center on the UTM campus.

Dr. John D. Petersen, president of the University of Tennessee, will attend the ceremony to congratulate the 535 spring graduates.

UTM Chancellor Nick Dunagan will preside over the exercises and confer degrees. Dr. Kay Durden, University of Tennessee National Alumni Association Alumni Distinguished Service Professor, will be the mace bearer, and the processional marshals will be Dr. Daniel Pigg, faculty senate president; Dr. Robert LeMaster, faculty senate vice president; Al Hooten, vice chancellor for finance and administration, and Lenora Solomons, vice chancellor for university advancement.

Closing the ceremony will be spring graduate, Lauren Brannon, UT Board of Trustees student member, singing the alma mater.

Immediately following commencement ceremonies, a reception will be hosted in the Duncan Ballroom in the Ed and Carolyn Boling University Center.

Summitt, with 1,054 collegiate basketball games and 882 wins in more than three decades of coaching, graduated from UTM in 1974.

During her 31-year career at UT, she has coached her teams to six NCAA titles, 24 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular-season championships, had 12 Olympians, 18 Kodak All-Americans named to 30 teams and 62 All-SEC performers.

She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in the 1999 inaugural class. In 2000, she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the first time she was eligible for balloting, in a class that included Isiah Thomas, Bob McAdoo and C.M. Newton. Additionally, Summitt was named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000 and has amassed numerous other honors and recognitions.

Summitt enrolled to play basketball and volleyball in 1970, becoming the prototypical player of the future. In 1973, she made her first U.S. national team when she represented the United States on the World University Games team (silver medal). She was co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team (silver medal) and held spots on the U.S. Women’s World Championship team and the 1975 Pan American Games team (gold medal).

Off the court, Summitt has served as a color commentator for television, an author, and has been involved in and a spokesman for a number of organizations, including United Way, The Race for the Cure for Juvenile Diabetes, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Tennessee Easter Seal Society, American Heart Association and the Lupus Foundation.

A native of Henrietta, Tenn., she and her husband, R.B. Summitt, have a 14-year-old son, Tyler.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pat and the Prez

President Bush, left, talks with Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, right, before speaking to reporters at McGhee Tyson Airport on Friday, April 22, 2005, in Alcoa, Tenn., after his plans to speak in the Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for Earth Day were changed due to bad weather.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Summitt honored by legislators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt was honored today by legislators in Nashville for becoming the winningest coach in the NCAA.

Summitt won her 880th game on March 22nd, surpassing Dean Smith, former head coach at North Carolina, for the career wins record.

Her team went on to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

Summitt began coaching at Tennessee in 1974 when she was 22.

She's a native of Henrietta, Tennessee, and played in college at Tennessee-Martin.

Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, left, is congratulated by Rep. Kim McMillan, D-Clarksville, front, as Summitt is honored by the Tennessee House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 20, 2005, in Nashville, Tenn., for becoming the winningest coach in college basketball last season. Also shown are Tennessee women's athletic director Joan Cronan, second from left, and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, right.

Monday, April 18, 2005

WNBA Draft - April 16, 2005


1 Charlotte Sting Janel McCarville, C, Minnesota
2 Indiana Fever Tan White, G, Mississippi St.
3 Phoenix Mercury Sandora Irvin, F, Texas Christian
4 San Antonio Silver Stars Kendra Wecker, F, Kansas St.
5 Houston Comets Sancho Lyttle, C, Houston
6 Washington Mystics Temeka Johnson, G, L.S.U.
7 Detroit Shock Kara Braxton, F, Georgia
8 Connecticut Sun Katie Feenstra, C, Liberty
(Rights traded to San Antonio for Margo Dydek)
9 Sacramento Monarchs Kristin Haynie, G, Michigan St.
10 New York Liberty Loree Moore, G, Tennessee
11 Minnesota Lynx Kristen Mann, F, UC-Santa Barbara
12 Seattle Storm Tanisha Wright, G, Penn State
13 Detroit Shock Dionnah Jackson, F, Oklahoma


14 San Antonio Silver Stars Shyra Ely, F, Tennessee
15 Houston Comets Roneeka Hodges, G, Florida State
16 Indiana Fever Yolanda Paige, G, West Virginia
17 Minnesota Lynx Jacqueline Batteast, F, Notre Dame
18 Phoenix Mercury Angelina Williams, F, Illinois
19 Washington Mystics Erica Taylor, G, Louisiana Tech
20 Detroit Shock Nikita Bell, F/G, North Carolina
21 Connecticut Sun Erin Phillips, Australia
22 Sacramento Monarchs Chelsea Newton, G, Rutgers
23 New York Liberty Tabitha Pool, F, Michigan
24 Charlotte Sting Jessica Moore, C, Connecticut
25 Seattle Storm Ashley Battle, F, Connecticut
26 Los Angeles Sparks DeeDee Wheeler, G, Arizona


27 San Antonio Silver Stars Catherine Kraayeveld, F, Oregon
28 Houston Comets Jenni Dant, G, DePaul
29 Indiana Fever Ashley Earley, G/F, Vanderbilt
30 Sacramento Monarchs Anne O'Neil, G, Iowa State
31 Phoenix Mercury Jamie Carey, G, Texas
32 Washington Mystics Tashia Morehead, F, Florida
33 Detroit Shock Jenni Lingor, G, Southwest Missouri St.
34 Connecticut Sun Megan Mahoney, F, Kansas St.
35 Sacramento Monarchs Cisti Greenwalt, C, Texas Tech
36 New York Liberty Rebecca Richman, C, Rutgers
37 Minnesota Lynx Monique Bivins, G, Alabama
38 Seattle Storm Steffanie Blackmon, F, Baylor
39 Los Angeles Sparks Heather Schreiber, F, Texas

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Warlick Withdraws Name from Consideration for Clemson Job

Longtime Assistant To Stay At Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --- Holly Warlick, a veteran 20-year assistant coach for the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball team, announced today that she has withdrawn her name in consideration of the head coaching position at Clemson University.

"Clemson is an outstanding coaching opportunity but not an exact fit for me," said Warlick. "In light of that decision, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for the position."

The 2004-05 campaign marked Warlick's second decade as a top basketball assistant at the University of Tennessee working with fellow Women's Basketball Hall of Famer, head coach Pat Summitt. Summitt, who became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA men's or women's collegiate hoops on March 22, 2005 with a 75-54 win over Purdue, has found Warlick alongside her, either as a player or an assistant coach, for 733 of her 882 career victories.

Warlick, the senior-most member of Summitt's staff, capably slid into the role as the top assistant in 2003-04 following the departure of longtime Associate Head Coach Mickie DeMoss who left to assume the head coaching duties at the University of Kentucky.

A three-time All-American while playing for Summitt from 1976-80, Warlick was known as a play-making wiz during her four years as UT's point guard. In 17 of the 24 years Warlick has been affiliated with UT, she has found herself at the Final Four as a player (1977, 1979, 1980) and as a coach (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005). Her best Final Four showing as a player was national championship runner-up in her senior season. As a coach, she has helped the Lady Vols grab the brass ring all six times (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Senate honors Summitt

WASHINGTON -- Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt won another honor today when the U.S. Senate approved a resolution commending her NCAA-record 880 wins and calling her "a proven leader, motivated teacher and established champion."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., filed the legislation and it won immediate, unanimous approval. No other federal action is needed.

The UT Lady Vols basketball coach on March 22 surpassed the career-win record of any male or female NCAA coach, passing former University of North Carolina Coach Dean Smith's record. She ended this season with 882 wins.

Frist spoke on the Senate floor today about Summitt's 31 years of coaching, her dedication and being "a role model for future generations of students, players and coaches."

Summitt, he said, has "elevated the Lady Vols to one of the elite programs in all of sports."

Alexander, a former UT president and Tennessee governor, said on the Senate floor of Summitt: "No one has done more to build the game of women's basketball than Pat Summitt. Today (Lady Vols basketball) is my favorite game to watch on television because of the skill of the players, because of the team play, because of the good coaching, and now because of the parity of the sport."

Alexander praised Summitt for also ensuring that all her players either graduate or remain in the process of completing requirements. "Pat Summitt brings out the best in those young women."

Tennessee senators propose resolution honoring Summitt

WASHINGTON -- Tennessee's U.S. senators Wednesday sponsored a resolution to honor Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt, who last month became the winningest coach in the NCAA.

Summitt won her 880th game on March 22, surpassing Dean Smith, former head coach of the University of North Carolina's men's basketball team, for the career wins record.

Her team was knocked out of this year's NCAA tournament in the semifinals.

The resolution, offered by Sen. Bill Frist and Sen. Lamar Alexandar, commends Summitt for "three decades of excellence as a proven leader, motivated teacher and established champion."

Her teams have won six national championships.

Criticizing Summitt is ridiculous

In the wake of Tennessee letting a 16-point lead slip away in its national semifinal loss to Michigan State, criticism of Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt has surfaced — criticism that is short-sighted and unfair.

If you watched the UT meltdown, you saw a team of young athletes failing to execute as taught. A coach can only do so much, especially with just nine scholarship players.

A review of the Lady Vols over the years illustrates unequivocally that a Summitt team is drilled constantly on fundamentals. One critic implied Summitt failed to mandate her forwards give the ball up to her guards after pulling down a rebound. What a ridiculous premise. Does anyone with even a thread of basketball intelligence think Summitt doesn't want the ball brought up court by a skilled ballhandler?

Analyze the Lady Vols' season and conclude this injury-ravaged team pulled off a minor miracle to win 30 games and get to another Final Four.

If two-time USA Today national high school player of the year Candace Parker remains healthy next season, watch out. The Lady Vols will be back with vengeance. Parker is a Chamique Holdsclaw times two. Having former Shelbyville All-American Alex Fuller available for the first time won't hurt either.

Instead of laying the semifinal flame-out at Summitt's feet, place it where it belongs — squarely on senior forward Shyra Ely. She did not perform to her abilities in the Philadelphia Regional championship game against Rutgers and tanked again in her hometown of Indianapolis during the loss to Michigan State. Some players are able to rise to the occasion; some aren't.

One coach who will always rise to the occasion is Summitt. She'll do just that next season. Summitt isn't college basketball's career leader in coaching wins by accident.

Special fan recalls Pat Summitt's very first game

On Sunday night in Indianapolis, Pat Summitt didn't have to sweep the floors or pull out the bleachers for the fans like she used to back in the early days of women's basketball.

The Henrietta, TN native, who did odd jobs in her early days as the coach at Tennessee, has brought women's basketball a long, long way. And her fans love her for it.

When the Lady Vols played in the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis last weekend, I was lucky enough to be there, along with Coach SUmmitt's many devoted fans.

Almost 29,000 people were on hand to watch the Lady Vols play Michigan St. in the NCAA Women's Final Four. Among those was a woman named Marge Price of Lenior City, Tennessee.

Dressed in a perfectly matched big orange outfit, 70-something Marge cheered juat as loudly as any young gun in the RCA Dome, just as she did back in January of 1974. You see, Marge Price was one of only 54 fans to attend Summitt's very first game as head coach at Tennessee.

"I've been to most since then," she told me.

The crowd Sunday night was 537 times larger than the one in '74, when Summitt picked up her first win against Middle Tennessee State.

Price has a perspective few have, and she has enjoyed following not only UT, but women's basketball in general.

Although she's now older than most of the Lady Vols' fans, her enthusiasm has never waned.

"It's great! Incredible!"

And even after the Lady Vols' heartbreaking loss to Michigan State, it's the loyal fans like Marge Price who insure that win or lose, the Lady Vols are always #1.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Summitt to speak at dinner, auction benefiting center for abused youth

Former Lady Vol player, survivor also guest at 'Scoring for Children'

When basketball season is over, Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt will reunite with a former player for a much more serious game - the battle against child abuse.

Summitt will be keynote speaker at an April 14 fund-raising dinner and auction to benefit the Child Advocacy Center of the 9th Judicial District.

Special guest will be Becky Clark, who made the 1979-80 Lady Vols team as a walk-on, despite a serious hearing impairment and the secret burden of being a child abuse victim.

CAC supporters describe Clark's story of extensive abuse at the hands of an alcoholic stepfather, her survival and ultimate success in life as inspirational. Summitt calls it "heart wrenching."

"Scoring For Children - An Evening With Pat Summitt" is the theme for the $100-per-person fund-raiser to help the Child Advocacy Center reach a goal of $100,000 for a permanent facility. The center serves Loudon, Roane, Morgan and Meigs counties.

Clark, 45, has a doctorate in psychology. She counsels other abuse victims through her therapy practice in New York City and as clinical director for a social service agency in New Jersey.

"This is about giving children who are abused a safe place to disclose their 'secret' along with medical, mental health and legal services," Clark said. "CAC provides these services all in one place, to minimize (repeatedly) traumatizing the child. What makes CAC so unique and effective is the multiple services they provide and coordinate with doctors, forensic interviewers, therapists, law enforcement and the justice system."

She said it is also about helping break the most powerful weapon that abusers have - secrecy. "Take away the secret, so goes the power," Clark said.

As a child, Clark was beaten so badly that she permanently lost 80 percent of her hearing and suffered some vision problems that continue today. And she believes the abuse her twin brother suffered caused him to kill himself.

"He pulled the trigger, but in my heart I know the abuse was the bullet that took his life," she said.

For years, Clark kept the physical, sexual and emotional abuse she suffered a secret from everyone - including Summitt.

"She is one very strong woman," Summitt said of Clark. "There's a lot of toughness there. She has come through a lot. It is just amazing."

Clark was a reserve player on a Lady Vol team that included Holly Warlick, Jill Rankin, Cindy Noble, Debby Groover and Lea Henry. The team went 33-5 and finished second nationally. Clark played in 10 games.

"I told everyone I was born with the (hearing) problem," Clark said. "I was trying to hide my secret and the shame of it all."

Just as in high school, she said, "I didn't want to be different from the other kids."

"She did a great job," Summitt said of Clark's determination to make the team despite her impairment. "And I had no idea of what all else she was going through."

Clark left UT after one year and returned to Memphis to care for an ailing grandmother. She gave up basketball but remained an athlete. In 2001, she ran the New York City marathon on behalf of abused children. In 2002, she was a torchbearer for the Winter Olympics. She is donating her torch to be auctioned at the fund-raiser.

Only after years of therapy did Clark feel comfortable telling her story to others. And Summitt was one of the first people she told.

In a book store in 1998, Clark said, "I got the feeling that somebody was staring at me." She whirled around to see the image of her former coach - on the cover of the book "Reach for the Summitt."

Clark sent Summitt a 13-page handwritten letter. "I spilled my heart to her," said Clark. "I told her how I felt I had let her and the team down, that I was afraid they thought my attitude was that basketball was not important to me, about how it took therapy to help me face up to everything."

Clark said she also told Summitt how her one year as a Lady Vol helped her cope, and eventually to heal. "I took to heart the lessons she had taught us, about facing adversity and going beyond what we thought we possibly can."

"It was heart wrenching to read her letter," Summitt said.

Clark said Summitt's answer was very compassionate and understanding. "What really touched me was the last line of her card. She said, 'Keep the Lady Vol tradition going.' I felt welcomed back into the fold. I will always be a Lady Vol at heart. Once a Lady Vol, always a Lady Vol."

The fund-raiser begins at 6 p.m. at Rothchild Catering and Conference Center. Deadline for required reservations is April 12. Besides individual tickets, groups of eight may reserve a table, and corporate sponsorships are available. For reservations, visit www.caceasttn.org or call the CAC at 865-986-1505.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Tennessee's season ends short of goal -- again

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee coach Pat Summitt picked up loss No. 172, and the Lady Vols left the Final Four again without a trophy.

This is not how Tennessee envisioned the season ending. The Lady Vols finished an up-and-down year on a low by losing to Michigan State in the national semifinals on Sunday in Indianapolis.

The seniors -- Shyra Ely, Loree Moore and Brittany Jackson -- went to four straight Final Fours but could not win it all. Tennessee won its last title in 1998.

``It was a great year overall. You can always sit around and wonder what if. I guess I've been in it long enough to know it's not about what if, it's about what we do have, not what we don't have,'' Summitt said Monday. ``If you look at 30-5 and a Final Four appearance and an SEC tournament championship, these student-athletes have a lot to be proud of.''

Tennessee appeared to be well on its way to giving Summitt her 883rd win and playing for a seventh national championship before Michigan State began a furious rally to erase a 16-point deficit and take the lead with a minute left.

The Lady Vols failed to tie the game when Shanna Zolman missed a 3-pointer, and Alexis Hornbuckle and Nicky Anosike missed consecutive putbacks in the last seconds.

Ely, the season's leading scorer and rebounder, put her hands to her face in shock when the buzzer sounded. The Indianapolis native, who wrote ``Homeward Bound'' on her sneakers during the tournament, had 9 points and eight rebounds.

Summitt watched game tape in her hotel room Sunday night and replayed the final 3 minutes of the game Monday before returning to Knoxville. Then she took a nap.

``Sometimes because the bar is so incredibly high we have to really remind ourselves how successful we've been and see the big picture and not just the last game because only one team in college basketball ends the season with a W,'' Summitt said. ``You've got to keep it in perspective.''

Tennessee lost to a team other than Connecticut in the national semifinals for the first time since 1988, when Louisiana Tech beat the Lady Vols.

Tennessee still accomplished much during the season despite not reaching its annual goal.

Summitt set the NCAA record for career wins when she passed Dean Smith with victory No. 880 in the second round in Knoxville. After the game, university officials announced they were naming the hardwood at Thompson-Boling Arena ``The Summitt'' in her honor.

Another run to the Final Four looked in doubt early this season when Tennessee began 4-2 with losses to Duke and Texas.

The Lady Vols searched for leadership to replace last year's inspired seniors Tasha Butts, Ashley Robinson and LaToya Davis, who led them to the championship game against Connecticut.

The Lady Vols lost two players for the season because of injury and two others redshirted to recover from surgery. Moore missed playing time in December after her tonsils were removed, but she didn't miss any time after breaking her nose in February.

LSU ended the Lady Vols' run of seven straight Southeastern Conference regular-season titles. Tennessee got back at the Lady Tigers by beating them in the championship game of the SEC tournament.

The Lady Vols avenged an embarrassing 65-51 loss to Rutgers in December with a win over the Scarlet Knights in the Philadelphia Regional final to earn their 16th trip to the Final Four.

Tennessee also welcomed six freshmen who comprised a recruiting class many considered the best ever in women's college basketball.

Hornbuckle and Anosike earned starting spots, offering a hint of what's to come for Tennessee.

The Lady Vols look forward to having forward Candace Parker ready to play next season. She redshirted to recover from knee surgery, a disappointment for fans who wanted to see her after she won the dunk contest as a McDonald's high school All-American a year ago.

Others catching up to the Tennessees of the world

INDIANAPOLIS — A Michigan State-Baylor championship game probably is not what ESPN had in mind, but this is an indication that parity is arriving in women's college basketball.

''The two teams that are here for the first time are the two teams that will play for a national championship,'' said Pat Summitt, whose quest for a seventh title ended two victories short.

''We have talked about this for years, but now we're seeing it first-hand. And the women's game has changed tremendously in a good way when you talk about parity.''

Michigan State is a prime example of a program that has risen through the ranks and now finds itself in the championship game. Before this year, the Spartans had not made it to the Sweet 16.

''I think it just speaks to the fact that there's growth and exciting things happening in women's basketball,'' said Spartans Coach Joanne P. McCallie. ''Baylor is a terrific team. So is LSU. So is Tennessee.

''But it's just very exciting for people to learn more about other teams and how teams are just growing and parity is growing.''

Instead of getting caught up in a history lesson about Tennessee's success, Michigan State's players focused on the task at hand.

''It's a new year,'' said forward Liz Shimek. ''You can play tradition or you can play the team that's out there, and I think that's what we really did. We played us versus them and we really focused on that.''

Said guard Lindsay Bowen: ''We all have a lot of respect for Tennessee and Coach Summitt and all those players. But we've got a good coach and good players, too.''

Likewise, Tennessee freshman Alexis Hornbuckle suggested that the Women's Final Four was all about current events, not history.

''There isn't such a thing as a comfort level in the Final Four,'' said Hornbuckle, who had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. ''We knew we had to keep fighting and we turned our heads. … I am not going to give up until I win a national championship.''

Michigan State benefited from the input of two people that had spent time in Knoxville and thus had some inside knowledge of Tennessee. Spartans assistants Al Brown and Semeka Randall coached and played for Summitt, respectively.

''At Tennessee, you go there to win a national championship,'' Randall said. ''It hasn't been done here. You're creating a legacy.''

After coming up empty on her fourth straight trip to the Women's Final Four, Summitt realizes securing her seventh national title is not going to be easy. The playing field might not be level, but the Tennessees and UConns of the world no longer dominate everyone else.

''I don't think that this is any fluke where it happened one year and that's it,'' Summitt said. ''I think every year you're probably going to see more upsets in first- and second-round play.''

Final Four not kind to seniors

INDIANAPOLIS — When the clock ran out, Shyra Ely walked over to the bench and put her hands over her mouth.

''I didn't believe it,'' Ely said. ''I thought we had five more minutes or something.''

The clock had run out in Tennessee's 68-64 loss to Michigan State, and it had run out on the college careers of Ely and fellow seniors Loree Moore and Brittany Jackson. That group made it to four Final Fours, but came up short each time.

''Not many classes get to do what Shyra, Loree and Brittany have done,'' UT Coach Pat Summitt said. ''It just speaks to the impact that they have had on our program.''

The Final Four has not been kind to Ely in her career, and yesterday was no different. Playing in her hometown, she finished with nine points, but was 4-of-14 from the floor and had five turnovers.

Despite five turnovers, Moore played one of her better games with 11 points and six rebounds.

''I'm really proud of our team for the type of season they have had, and I thought Loree Moore was terrific tonight in pushing tempo and playing the kind of defense she had to play,'' Summitt said.

As freshmen, they lost in the semifinals 79-56 to Connecticut. They lost to the Huskies in the title game 73-68 the following year, and UConn beat Tennessee 70-61 last year in the final.

Freshman Alexis Hornbuckle said she looked Moore in the eye at the beginning of the season and told her that this year's Final Four trip would let her finish out her career with a national title.

Tennessee has not won a title since winning three straight from 1996 to 1998.

''It's like promising a family member something, and then not showing up,'' Hornbuckle said.

Hornbuckle can't take much of the blame. She led Tennessee with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, had six assists and eight rebounds.

UT junior Shanna Zolman finished with 13 points.

Michigan State got four players in double figures during their run that turned a 16-point deficit into a lead. Tennessee had 18 turnovers in the game — most of those coming during the Spartans' run.

Lindsay Bowen led all scorers with 18.

Earlier in the night, LSU suffered a similar fate at the hands of Baylor. The Lady Tigers led 24-9 in the first half, but the Lady Bears had the game tied by halftime and pulled away for a 68-57 win.

''The first thing that went through my mind was the LSU-Baylor game, because that was the same exact thing that happened,'' Zolman said. ''We knew they were going to make a run.''

This was a homecoming for both Zolman (Syracuse, Ind.) and Ely (Indianapolis).

''I don't care where it's at,'' Zolman said. ''It could be in Alaska, and I wouldn't care. It's a loss.

''Obviously, it's all the excitement of coming into it, yeah, there's all the hype coming in, playing in your home state, in front of home family and crowd, but a loss is a loss. It doesn't matter if it's here or Nova Scotia, it's a loss.''

• Michigan State assistant coach Al Brown, who worked on Summitt's staff from 1995-2002, picked up a technical foul in last night's game. Zolman's free throws made it a 51-40 game at that point.

• Former Vols quarterback Peyton Manning attended last night's game. He sat a few rows behind the UT bench. Former Lady Vols Ashley Robinson and Kara Lawson were also at the game.

Baylor takes down LSU

INDIANAPOLIS — The end of Baylor's remarkable, uplifting redemption story will be told on the final night of the season.

Resilient when they fell behind, determined when they got the lead, the Lady Bears are going to the national championship game.

Baylor got 21 points from Sophia Young and major contributions from Emily Niemann and Abiola Wabara to beat LSU 68-57 last night in an impressive Final Four debut for a program that once was the worst in the Big 12.

''Wow! That's a good team we just beat,'' said Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, who looked misty-eyed as she pumped two fists up to the roaring Baylor fans.

The Lady Bears (32-3) have brought a new feeling of pride to a campus stained by scandal in the men's basketball program. They'll take a 19-game winning streak — the longest one going in NCAA women's basketball — into the title game tomorrow night, when they'll meet the winner of last late game between six-time national champion Tennessee and Final Four newcomer Michigan State.

LSU (33-3), seeded No. 1 overall in the NCAA Tournament, jumped out to an early 15-point lead but the Lady Bears came storming back to tie it at halftime. The Lady Tigers, who looked restless at times on offense, also failed to hold onto a six-point lead in the second half.

Baylor just wouldn't go away and went ahead to stay when Chelsea Whitaker, who had eight turnovers in the regional final against North Carolina, sank two free throws for a 52-51 lead with 6:17 remaining.

Young then picked off an LSU pass into the post and Baylor capitalized with Wabara's three-point play for a 55-51 lead. When Young hit a jumper 30 seconds later, Baylor led 57-51 and the Lady Bears had the cushion they needed to hang on down the stretch.

Not even national player of the year Seimone Augustus could save LSU, which missed too many shots against Baylor's 3-2 zone and faltered badly at the end.

Augustus scored 22 points but shot just 10-for-26 and was 0-for-4 from 3-point range.

''Things just didn't fall the way we wanted them to fall,'' Augustus said. ''As far as the team goes, I thought we had a pretty good chance to win the title. To a certain extent, I felt we gave it away. We just didn't fight. They had the fight in their eyes and we didn't.''

Sylvia Fowles, LSU's muscular 6-foot-5 freshman, added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Temeka Johnson had 14 points and seven assists.

But it just wasn't enough against Baylor's defense — the Lady Bears have won 76 games in a row when holding opponents under 59 points.

Niemann gave Baylor a big lift off the bench with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting and Wabara was a difference-maker with 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

''Its been like that all year, we've had different players step up,'' Mulkey-Robertson said. ''We're not a two-dimensional team with (Steffanie) Blackmon and Sophia Wow, we're playing for a national championship at Baylor University!''

Wabara went scoreless and played only six minutes in Baylor's 71-70 loss to LSU back on Nov. 14, a game in which the Lady Bears rallied from a 21-point deficit.

Mulkey-Robertson has needed just five years to get Baylor to the biggest game in its history.

Collapse costs UT

INDIANAPOLIS — They had never been there before.

They trailed by 16 in the second half.

They were playing the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.

The Spartans didn't care.

Michigan State advanced to its first national championship game with a 68-64 come-from-behind win over Tennessee in front of a sellout crowd of 28,937 at the RCA Dome.

''I don't understand it, because it's not the way we played to get here,'' Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt said.

Michigan State will play Baylor tomorrow night for the national title. The Lady Bears beat the tournament's No. 1 overall seed LSU 68-57 in last night's first game.

''Any way you look at it, it is disappointing,'' said UT senior Shyra Ely, who went 4-of-14 from the floor and had six turnovers in her hometown.

''Never did I think we would lose.''

The Lady Vols (30-5) watched helplessly as their 16-point lead slipped away. Michigan State's comeback ties the biggest in the history of the Final Four.

Victoria Lucas-Perry scored seven consecutive points to bring the Spartans (33-3) within 57-56, and she tied it at 62 on a pair of free throws minutes later. The Spartans took the lead when point guard Kristin Haynie stole a pass from Shanna Zolman and laid it in at the other end.

''That was one of the greatest steals I've ever seen in my life,'' Michigan State Coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

Trailing 66-64, Tennessee got the look it wanted with a 3-pointer by Zolman, but the shot rimmed out. Putbacks by freshmen Alexis Hornbuckle and Nicky Anosike also missed.

Tennessee looked to be in firm control of the game when it quickly ran its lead out to 45-29 with a 14-2 run to start off the second half.

''Remember this feeling,'' Hornbuckle said. ''Every time you work out in the summer and the preseason, when you think you can't make it, remember this feeling.''

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Spartans Upset Lady Vols in Final Four

INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan State's climb to national prominence took the Spartans all the way over Rocky Top. Down by 16 points in the second half, Michigan State rallied — tying the largest comeback in Final Four history — then finished off Tennessee with a pair of fast-break baskets to complete the 68-64 upset Sunday night. The win sets up Tuesday's title game with Baylor, another unlikely championship contender.

"This team has the heart of a lion," Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said, her players bouncing and hugging with wide-eyed looks of disbelief on their faces.

Trailing 45-29 with 16:02 left, Michigan State wouldn't quit and finally caught the Lady Vols at 62-62 on two free throws by Victoria Lucas-Perry with 1:20 left. Moments later, Michigan State point guard Kristin Haynie made a steal and layup to put the Big Ten champions ahead.

Tennessee's Loree Moore then tied it with a runner in the lane, but Spartans senior center Kelli Roehrig scored underneath to make it 66-64 with 35 seconds to play.

The Lady Vols (30-5) then missed a 3-pointer and two inside shots before the ball dropped in the hands of Roehrig, who fed Lucas-Perry for a layup with 2.7 seconds left to complete the remarkable comeback.

The Spartans' last two baskets were their only fast-break points of the night.

Michigan State's rally tied the largest in Final Four history. In 2001, Notre Dame came back from 16 down to beat Connecticut. But the Spartans didn't pull off the night's only jaw-dropping return to life: Baylor had to overcome a 15-point deficit in the game before to take out overall No. 1 seed LSU.

Baylor, whose uplifting tale of redemption is the feel-good story in this tournament, advanced to its first national championship game with a 68-57 victory.

The Spartans (33-3) danced and hugged in a circle as the final horn sounded on their game. McCallie said it wouldn't take long for her to get started preparing for the Lady Bears.

"By Midnight," she said. "Baylor's a fantastic team, and they had a terrific game also, and we're very excited, and midnight, we got til about midnight."

Just four years ago, Michigan State wasn't even among the best teams in its conference. In 2000, McCallie's first year, the Spartans won only 10 games.

But McCallie, the AP's coach of the year this season who turned tiny Maine into a national power, recruited Haynie and Roehrig and got the rest of the Spartans to believe.

Now they're one win away from a national title, something the school's men's team couldn't do this weekend in St. Louis.

Lindsay Bowen had 18 points and Lucas-Perry and Liz Shimek 14 apiece for the Spartans, who have won 17 straight.

Tennessee, meanwhile, had another solid season end in disbelief and a victory shy of a seventh national title. Despite making their fourth straight Final Four appearance and 16th overall under coach Pat Summitt, the Lady Vols haven't won a national title since 1998 — a drought for the queens of college basketball.

"It will be a long time before I get this one out of my system," Summit said. "I'm sure the players feel the same way."

The devastating loss for Tennessee puts a disappointing finish to a season in which Summitt became the winningest coach in college basketball history. But win No. 883 will have to wait until next season.

Freshman Alexis Hornbuckle had 16 points and Indiana native Shanna Zolman added 13 for the Lady Vols, who appeared in control in the second half before their uncharacteristic fold.

With Indianapolis Colts quarterback and proud Tennessee alum Peyton Manning cheering from a few rows behind their bench, the Lady Vols opened the second half with a 14-4 run to open their biggest lead.

The Spartans looked tired and ready to pack it in when all of a sudden they found their shooting touch and new life. Bowen's 3-pointer capped a 14-2 spurt that pulled Michigan State within 51-47 with 9:13 to go.

Lucas-Perry then hit two 3-pointers and scored eight straight points to get Michigan State within 57-56, sending the Spartans fans into a frenzy. Zolman's 3-pointer with 3:45 left gave Tennessee a six-point cushion, but the Lady Vols made some careless turnovers — one a pass that Summitt snagged in front of her bench — to help Michigan State's rally.

Haynie's steal was the biggest play. Regarded as one of the nation's finest point guards, she had scored just two points before stepping in front of Zolman's pass and dribbling nearly the length of the floor for her basket.

"She was just so hungry, so hungry to get after it, and she sees the great opportunity to go for it," McCallie said.

Roehrig also redeemed herself after missing an easy layup a few moments earlier with her inside shot, which came after the burly center flattened Tye'sha Fluker in the lane.

But it was Lucas-Perry's layup that finally dropped Tennessee for good.

Pat Pix

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt signals her team in the first half against Michigan State in a national semifinal game at the NCAA Women's Final Four Sunday, April 3, 2005, in Indianapolis.

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt talks to guard Shanna Zolman (1) during a time out in their national semifinal game against Michigan State at the NCAA Women's Final Four Sunday, April 3, 2005, in Indianapolis.

University of Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt calls out a play while her team plays Michigan State during the first half of their semifinal game of the NCAA Women's Final Four tournament in Indianapolis, April 3, 2005.

Lady Vols have friends on other side

INDIANAPOLIS — Three quick dribbles. The left arm swings back. Pause. Follow through.

Shyra Ely goes through that simple routine every time she steps to the free throw line. And with that, Al Brown's influence on Tennessee women's basketball still shows up — every time Ely steps to the free throw line.

Ely, now a senior, got only one year of Brown's tutelage at Tennessee, but the impact he had on her freshman year — and her free throw shooting — still runs deep.

''He's a smart coach, really cerebral,'' Ely said. ''He knows how to break down a team, break down players. Longwinded, but he's a great coach.''

Brown spent two years as an assistant in UT's men's program, and he worked on Pat Summitt's staff from 1995 to 2002. The Lady Vols won three national championships during that stretch.

Now, Brown is on the other sideline, as an assistant coach for Michigan State. The Spartans (32-3) play the Lady Vols (30-4) in the Final Four tonight at 8:30 at the RCA Dome.

''The mistake that you could make as a coach is to assume, 'Well, I was at Tennessee, and we did all this, and I know this,''' Brown said. ''And you overlook exactly what they're doing now. I certainly avoid that.''

Brown, in his first year at Michigan State, won't be the only coach with orange ties. Former Lady Vol Semeka Randall is also in her first year on Joanne P. McCallie's staff.

Brown and Randall have more experience with the Final Four than anybody associated with the Spartans, who are making their first Final Four appearance. McCallie was an assistant coach on the Auburn teams that went to the title game in 1988 and 1989.

But Brown went to five Final Fours as an assistant at Tennessee, and Randall was a freshman when the Lady Vols went undefeated in 1998. She has tried to make it clear to her players exactly what happens to Tennessee this time of year.

''You go through the season and you get all the tweaks out,'' Randall said. ''March Madness hits, and the whole team just transforms. The focus gets real intense. Details become very important.''

Randall's group in 1998 was the last Lady Vol team to win a national title.

''Let's keep it that way,'' she said.

The seven-year drought is referred to as unacceptable by several of the current Tennessee players.

''I think the problem with a Connecticut or a Tennessee is you create such a monster as a coach,'' Brown said. ''Anything short of winning a national championship is somewhat disappointing. That shouldn't be that way.''

That is not the case at Michigan State, Brown said.

''It's a great difference because of the enjoyment of the community, the excitement, the thrill the players have,'' Brown said.

That's not to say that Brown is down on Tennessee. In fact, he walked right up to Ely at a banquet on Friday night and greeted her with a cheery ''Hey Lefty'' and a big hug.

Brown is still the same X's and O's coach that he was at Tennessee, and his post players are putting up numbers that look pretty similar to the Lady Vols of the late '90s. Junior forward Liz Shimek and senior center Kelli Roehrig are combining for 28.5 points and 16.5 rebounds a game.

The biggest difference in Brown is wardrobe. Always known for his suits while in Knoxville, he has taken a different route this season.

''Somehow I got started in sweaters this year, and it's become something that's just kind of turned into a runaway animal,'' he said. ''I told my wife I've got to go out and buy some new sweaters. Being around women, you can't wear the same sweater twice.''

Despite her move to the sidelines, Randall hasn't changed much since leaving Tennessee either.

''I was curious to see how she was going to be as a coach,'' Summitt said. ''She was always a real competitive player and tough, and I was anxious to see if she could put those tennis shoes aside and really think about being a coach. And she said she really likes it.''

Randall is catching just as much flak for her change in dress code as Brown. She has friends and family ask her constantly about her new partiality to the color green.

''They say the orange looks better,'' Randall said. ''But this is my suit for now.''

Nicky Pushed to Summitt

April 3, 2005 -- INDIANAPOLIS — It's all about getting there, insist both Roy Williams, who has never won it all, and Pat Summit, who has won six times. She can point to the tangible benefits of merely showing up at five of the last seven Final Fours since Tennessee's last NCAA women's title in 1998.

All that banging of Summitt's head on UConn's brick wall obviously didn't knock any of the charm out of her or her storied program. "Best recruiting class ever" is what many have called this year's freshmen, or what's left of them.

Candace Parker, who has a chance to be one of the best ever, and Alex Fuller missed the entire season with bum knees, and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood succumbed to knee surgery in February.

But somehow two freshmen starters, guard Alexis Hornbuckle and center Nicky Anosike, survived.

No surprise in Anosike's case, she's from New York, specifically Staten Island, and therefore has to be tough as they come. So tough, in fact, Anosike could make herself leave Mom and seven siblings for Knoxville, Tenn.

"I never thought I could do it," she said.

"My mom bought a house [in East Orange, N.J.], and waited for me to finish high school [St. Peter's] to move there, only 45 minutes from Rutgers. I was thinking about Rutgers for awhile.

"UConn first wanted Laura Harper. When she withdrew [to go to Maryland], they tried to recruit me again, but I had scratched them off my list. My heart was already at Tennessee. When my mother looks at Pat, she sees a lot of herself. They've both defeated a lot of adversity in their lives."

If Ngozi Anosike's sixth of her eight children didn't want to play for Summitt, then could she maybe use a registered nurse?

"I remember during the visit Ngozi saying, 'Now, when Nicky gets to Tennessee, and Nicky looked at her like, 'Mom?' and Ngozi just kept on, 'No, this is the place you need to be.' " recalled Summitt. "Her Mom had watched [Tennessee] on TV and liked the discipline.

"She's a woman of small stature, yet extremely disciplined and very demanding. We talked about academics. Here, you don't go to class, you don't play."

Tennessee got a terrific student (3.65 first semester GPA) and its first big New York recruit since its greatest recruit of all, Christ the King's Chamique Holdsclaw.

"Chamique was a no-brainer, the best player in the country and obviously the most influential in the history of Lady Vol basketball," said Summitt. "Nicky was a little different.

"The afternoon I saw her play, I had to look at the potential. admire her drive and intensity. I saw something special, a great student cut out of a different cloth."

Summitt, whose Lady Vols play Michigan State after Baylor faces favored LSU tonight, wears pantsuits that, after 882 wins, hardly are the Empress' clothes. When she sat with Anosike on a bench near St. Peters, watching the Staten Island ferry and delivering the pitch, Anosike couldn't bring herself to look at the coach.

For reason she "can't explain," Anosike still can't. But it's much more important Summitt likes what she sees, like 11.3 points, 8.0 rebounds in four tournament games, plus eight trips per game to the free-throw line. There, Anosike has nailed 77 percent, only 23 per cent less perfect than her coach's and mother's instincts about each other.

Tennessee's Anosike develops under Summitt

INDIANAPOLIS - There was never any question that Nicky Anosike could handle the physical nature of playing college basketball at Tennessee, but like with every freshman Lady Vol, there were questions about the mental challenges of playing for legendary head coach Pat Summitt.

"Physically, it was demanding, but like the other freshman, I got used to it," said Anosike, a former New York Daily News all-city player out of St. Peter's on Staten Island. "The real transition has been getting used to how demanding Pat is. It was definitely different."

It has been different, demanding and so far rewarding. The 6-4 center will start Sunday night for the Lady Vols as they play Michigan State in one national semifinal at the RCA Dome. That game follows the first semifinal, Baylor against LSU.

The challenges of playing for Summitt have been well-documented by former players, newspaper articles, books and even a documentary. Her forcefulness and blunt way of speaking to players is a shock to the system.

But it really was not so foreign to Anosike.

Anosike's mother, Ngozi, is a Nigerian immigrant who raised eight children alone while also earning a nursing degree and working full-time. It was her mother who convinced Anosike that Summitt's discipline and strength would best help her to develop as a player and person.

"I remember Ngozi saying, `When Nicky gets to Tennessee,' and Nicky looked at her like, `Mom?'," said Summitt, recalling her recruiting visit to Anosike's home. "Ngozi just said to Nicky, `This is the place you need to be.' "

Her mother seems to have been right. Anosike came out of St. Peter's with the reputation as a fantastic athlete with a long way to go in terms of basketball skills.

"The afternoon I went to see her play, I had to look at the potential of a Nicky Anosike," Summitt said. "I really admired her drive and intensity and competitiveness. I saw something in her and in her mom that I knew was very, very special."

Anosike had to use every bit of her work ethic this season. She has struggled to improve her shooting, but has impressed almost everyone with her intensity on the court. Summitt put her in the starting lineup 22 games ago hoping to accelerate her learning curve.

"When I put her into the starting lineup, I went to each of my staff members and I said, `Do not let me take her out of the lineup, because I am going to want to,' " said Summitt. "I am going to see her turn it over and I am going to see her miss easy shots and I am going to want to take her out, but I can't."

Summitt's faith has been rewarded. Anosike leads the team in blocked shots (30) and is second in rebounding (5.9 rpg). Anosike, named to the All-SEC freshman team, still shoots just 37 percent from the floor, but she has raised her game in the NCAA Tournament. She scored 14 points, shooting 10-of-12 from the free throw line, as the Lady Vols beat Rutgers in the Philadelphia Regional final.

Girl power: All-woman Final Four

INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time since 1997, all four head coaches at the women's Final Four are female — Tennessee's Pat Summitt, LSU's Pokey Chatman, Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie and Baylor's Kim Mulkey-Robertson.

Summitt is the only real veteran among that group of up-and-comers. McCallie and Mulkey-Robertson are making their first trips to the Final Four, and Chatman is making her second.

Chatman was filling in for ailing Coach Sue Gunter last year in New Orleans. She officially became head coach this season, as Gunter is still very ill.

''You are seeing a lot more administrators throughout the country look at some of the top females that have either played the sport or been involved with the game,'' Summitt said.

''Not that they are opposed by any means to hire men as there are certainly a lot of successful men in this profession. I do think that more and more women are being given opportunities for head coaching jobs.''

In 1997, the Final Four was full of female coaching veterans — Summitt, Stanford's Tara VanDerveer, Old Dominion's Wendy Larry and Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw.

McGraw was the last female coach to win a national title, in 2001. UConn's Geno Auriemma has won the past three.

Anxious Ely: Lady Vols senior Shyra Ely was not willing to admit that she was a bit tight against Rutgers on Tuesday — with a trip to the Final Four and her hometown of Indianapolis on the line. Her coach admitted it for her though.

''I think without question she was probably a little overanxious at times,'' Summitt said. ''She had been to three consecutive Final Fours and on top of that Shyra was trying to get back home.

''Combine that with Rutgers' defensive intensity, and I think that without question, she might have forced some things.''

Ely went just 2-of-11 from the floor in the Lady Vols' 59-49 win over Rutgers to advance to the national semifinals.

''Now that we have made it there, I think that it should give her a chance to relax and play without being in some type of panic or mental anxiety,'' Summitt said.

Old haunt: If Ely wants to visit her alma mater Ben Davis High School while in Indianapolis, she will have to do it on her own time.

Summitt put in a request for the Lady Vols to practice there, but this is a dead period for recruiting.

''There are recruitable student-athletes at the high school,'' Summitt said. ''I had not thought about it being a dead period. I knew immediately it would not be a possibility for us.''

Coach Summitt and the Lady Vols take on the Spartans Sunday at 9:30 p.m.


DEBBIE BYRNE: We're going to have an opening statement from Coach Summitt, your questions to the student athletes so we can let them go back during the open locker room period and then we'll continue with questions for the Coach. So Pat, without further adieu.

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, obviously we're all very excited to be back at the Final Four and to our senior class for this to be their fourth trip. I think that speaks to the impact that they have had on our program. To have our two Indiana players be able to come back to their home state, of course Shyra in her hometown, it doesn't get any better than that when you think about the stage that they're on right now. I'm really proud of not only these three, but the entire team.

DEBBIE BYRNE: Questions for the student athletes.

Q. Shyra, they announced the sites for the Final Four action several years in advance; did you see this and think, "I want to go"?

Shyra Ely: I didn't know until last year or something like that. And I was really excited and from that moment on I knew that it was definitely a goal to be here my senior year and play in the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Q. Loree, I would like to ask you, were you ever fearful this season that you were not going to have a healthy day and be healthy, your best for this time of year?

Loree Moore: No, no doubt in my mind. I kind of went with it. Everything kind of got thrown at me and I didn't really know how to handle it. But I stuck with it and I knew that some time it will come together and it will work out for me and I'm glad it happened at this time.

Q. This is also for Loree. Loree, through all the injuries and so forth, the different things that you do on the court; the defense, the rebounding, the passing; did they go in progression? Did you learn one thing well and go to the next or did they all kind of pick up a little bit together? Describe how that came together.

Loree Moore: Kind of those things were I was already good at and it kind of progressed as my years went on and I kind of got better at each aspect of my game and I just always wanted to stay aggressive with that. I'm known for defense and pushing tempo and creating for my teammates and now I'm adding a part of being aggressive on the offense end and looking for my own shots as well.

Q. Shanna, shooting is such a big part of your game, have you gotten acclimated to the dome, to the rims; do you feel pretty comfortable out there.

Shanna Zolman: Yes, I do now. Coming in, the depth perception of everything is so vast and wide. That's what these shoot arounds are for. Just being able to get acclimated to the rims and being able to adjust to the lighting as well.

Q. To the two Indiana players, could you just talk about the demands for tickets and what sort of delegations you'll have here?

Shyra Ely: Well, I had people coming out of the woodwork. I really it was so I just left it up to my mother to deal with and she's done a great job and she's been just as busy as I am with phone calls and everything. I'm really expecting a lot of like a ton of family and friends and, yeah, I didn't want to get involved with it because it's just too much and I got too much on my plate right now to be focusing on rather than tickets. Shanna Zolman: Same with me, I left that up to my parents to handle.

Q. Shyra, you've been here quite a few times. Could you reflect upon the value, maybe it's a cumulative value of Final Four experience and having performed on this stage before and will that possibly give your team an edge this weekend?

Shyra Ely: Well, I think our team has a lot of experience in the Final Four. Obviously with the senior class being here for the fourth time, and I think that that will just allow us to not get caught up in the whole Final Four experience, but rather stick to what we came here for, and that's to win a national championship and I think that our maturity will help lead this team through as far as our six freshmen and just getting them focused on the price as well.

Q. Shyra, when Sidney got hurt you seemed to move inside more. How has that changed things for you this season the last 10 games or so?

Shyra Ely: Well, playing the floor is pretty natural to me and it's always been what I've played throughout high school and here. Certain things happen whether it's injuries or just a different feel for the game. And I think that one of my strengths is that I'm versatile and I can play where Coach needs me.

So in the beginning of the year that's where she thought I should play and with Sidney going out that kind of opened up the floor spot for me. But it's pretty natural and I feel like that's my bread and butter and I'm really happy that that's where I'm playing at this point in the season.

DEBBIE BYRNE: Final question? Okay. Ladies, I'm going to let you go back to the locker room and we're going to start with questions for the Coach.

Q. Pat, between Chamique and Nicky, how active have you tried to be recruiting in New York and if it appears to be not very or sporadically, what would be the reason for that? And also could you tell the story of recruiting Nicky Anosike and what you saw in her and why you think she came to Tennessee?

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, first of all as a coaching staff, we try and identify the players that we think can keep us at a certain level and hopefully give us a chance to continue to compete in Final Fours for national championships. And certainly Chamique was a no brainer, she was the best player in the country and obviously was the most influential or impact player on our program of the history of Lady Vol basketball.

But Nicky Anosike was a little bit different in that I knew that she was a great athlete and I had heard a lot about her. The afternoon I went to see her play, I had to look at the potential of a Nicky Anosike. I really admired her drive and intensity and competitiveness. And when I made a home visit and met her mother and it was a done deal, I just fell in love with the family and a strong mother of eight children, a single parent. And I saw in her mom and in Nicky Anosike something that I thought was really, really special. She's very very committed to her academics, she's obviously a great student. But there's something special inside of her and I said last weekend, she's just cut out of a different cloth. And when I put her in the starting lineup I went to each one of my staff members and I said, do not let me take her out of the lineup. I'm going to want to, because I want to see her turn it over and I'm going to see her miss easy shots, but don't let me do it. And sure enough, when I even thought about it, they said, you can't do that.

Q. Did you take a walk with her?

COACH Pat Summitt: We did. We walked out we were on Staten Island and went out and watched the ferry coming across and just talked about her life and it was interesting. She couldn't look at me. We did a commercial yesterday and she couldn't look at me. I said, "Nicky, why aren't you looking at me?" And she says "Coach, I can't look at you, I couldn't look at you in the visit, I didn't look at you on campus." And I said, "Well, that's okay, just keep playing the way you're playing, you don't have to look at me. Maybe one of these days you will."

But just getting to know more about Nicky, and convincing Nicky that we would take care of her and provide her with a great family environment at Tennessee and that's no different from recruiting anyone else, that's how we have really disciplined our program in a lot of ways. But the family model has been key for us when kids are willing to leave from New York or California, and come to Knoxville, Tennessee, that's a big change for them. And we want them to know we'll be their family and their home away from home.

Q. I had one original question, but something since you just hit on, Nicky, how much did her mother play into that; it sounds like she recruited you as much as you recruited her maybe?

COACH Pat Summitt: I didn't know. Her mom told me that she watched a lot of games on TV and she liked the discipline. She's a woman of small stature and yet she's extremely disciplined and very demanding and challenging of her family, of her children. And when we talked about academics and we have a no mess up front rule, you go to class; you don't go to class, you don't play. You're there at the university first and foremost to get a degree. I just remember Ngozi saying, "Now, when Nicky gets to Tennessee," and Nicky looked at her like, "mom?" And she just kept on. She said, "No, this is the place you need to be." And I think she had a great influence on Nicky, but fortunately, when Nicky came to campus I thought she really liked the teammates that she would be joining and trusted the coaching staff, but I think her mom had a, obviously, a big influence on her final decision.

Q. What's it like, and I know you've done this obviously several times in your career, but now in a Final Four to look down at the opposite bench, you got two coaches over there that you're probably pretty close to, particularly with Semeka being so close to your last national championship?

COACH Pat Summitt: It was great to see Semeka Randall and also Al Brown and obviously two people that spent a lot of time at the University of Tennessee and had very positive impact on our success while they were with us. And I'm just really proud for them and I am sure they have had the same impact at Michigan State and been a real asset to the program there and they really seem to be enjoying it. Semeka, you know, is really I was curious to see how she was going to be as a coach. She was always a real competitive player and tough and I just, I was anxious to see if she could put those tennis shoes aside and really think about being a coach. And she said she really likes it. She said that this is something that she thinks that she could do for a long time.

Q. We were up at the concourse earlier for the autograph session. What's it like having so many fans, not just from Knoxville but you talked to some of these fans and they're from all over the country, and then to hear them talk to you and talk about how you've been able and the Lady Vols have been able to touch their lives.

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, it's obviously a tremendous compliment to our student athletes and to our basketball program. All of our student athletes understand that they're role models and they have to decide what kind of role models they want to be. And they're the first to sign autographs and talk to kids and you just never know whether it's an elderly person or a child, what something like that means to other people, and to me that's just part of our responsibility.

Basketball is one thing, but being able to touch lives is far more important when you look at the big picture. And I think that our student athletes understand that now better. I hope they never turn down an autograph. And I hope they take the time to really speak to the people that they make a difference for.

Q. Outside of the fact there was a pretty good team in the northeast, New England, has there been something about getting this 7th championship that has seemed so elusive, and has it begun to take on the characteristics of trying to win your first championship?

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, I'll say this: I think I've managed to put things in perspective as a coach, and I think that's important to do, because as a friend of mine said the other day, this is not always a happy profession. And sometimes if we're unrealistic about our chances or what we accomplish in the end for us a national championship or absolutely nothing, I think I would be miserable at what I do. And I think I have to be realistic so I can be happy and enjoy the process. The journey is so important, and for that, as I've walked off the court while I've been disappointed, the disappointment is for the student athletes because I know how much they want to win a championship, every year, every team. And yet the fact that they haven't been able to do that doesn't mean they're not winners, doesn't mean they haven't been competitive.

If you look at in the last three years what Connecticut has accomplished, I think they have had the best talent in the country. I really do. And so sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due and continue to persevere and try and get back here and get on this stage where who knows what can happen. You got to be here for it to happen.

Q. Joanne P. McCallie yesterday said kind of jokingly that when she was at Northwestern she played you guys and scored 20. My question is do you remember her as a player, do you remember that game and how is your relationship with her changed now that she's in the coaching ranks?

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, to be honest with you, I don't remember her as a player. We didn't do a lot of scouting reports. Obviously she got 20; I don't know how I could not remember that. I think I was more upset with Dawn Marsh that day than anybody else if it's the day I'm recalling, but she's done a great job as a coach and I certainly know her as a coach and will remember her and obviously Joanne's done a great job, so you think about the impact she's had. I don't think many people would remember my playing days either, but I am a little older than Joanne so let's don't offend her, don't mention that.

Q. Seimone Augustus is named National Player of the Year today and you faced her many times; can you just talk about the impact she's had on the women's game?

COACH Pat Summitt: Seimone Augustus is she's had a great impact on the game. And I'm not at all surprised by that. Watching her in high school, and I went to her last home game in which was standing room only, and she literally just scored in a variety of ways and at will, I mean just with no real effort.

She is she reminds me a lot then of Chamique Holdsclaw and still does. The pull up jump shot, her ability to put the ball on the floor. She obviously can go in and post up. The impact she's had on LSU obviously has taken them to two Final Fours now. And certainly she is one of the most talented players to come out of our conference and that says an awful lot.

Q. Pat, it seems like every time you reach a coaching milestone the chatter begins about maybe you should try coaching on the men's side. Does part of you find it, I don't know if "insulting" is the right word, that seems to be this thought that the only way you can validate yourself is if you try to coach males?

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, it's not an insult. I mean it's the reality of the society we live in and I'm not I don't think that I have anything to prove as a coach. And a lot of people think, well, if a female coach is in the men's game, then you've arrived.

I love this game. I love the women's game. I do feel like that I can have much more influence here on the lives of these young women and that's what I want to do. I want to continue to help these young women understand life as well as basketball and learn to compete and to be able to leave here as confident young women that can make it in the real world, not just on the court.

Q. Obviously the Women's Final Four has grown in stature since the first time you were here. What do you remember about your first visit and as a follow to that, do you think there is a little bit of a shock for first timers?

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, my first visit to the NCAA was obviously in Norfolk and I just of course going to the AIAW Tournament, just to take you back, there were 16 teams there. And our first trip was my third year of coaching and we were in Minnesota. And we had a consolation game in AIAW and we finished third. We lost in the opening game to Delta State. And when we went to Norfolk, I just remember it was not a happy ending for us. Louisiana Tech clearly took care of us in that game. But I could tell the difference. We had a nice bandwidth, there was a lot more media there, just NCAA Championship meant that we had instant credibility now in our game and we had a lot more attention from the media and from television and so it just took it to a whole different level. It was a level of respect, which the women's game had not had up until that point.

Q. What about the first timers now?

COACH Pat Summitt: The first time, obviously I think now it's, I'm amazed at being back here a number of times, how much more comfortable I am. I can remember I didn't understand what I was going into and at that point I was nervous. And obviously you try and keep that from your players and just try to prepare them. I think I probably overprepared. I think I we probably practiced more than we do now. We don't prepare any less in terms of our scouting, but on the floor it's more about getting used to the floor and the rims and the lighting, same thing that Shanna is talking about, as opposed to putting in one more play or trying to change things at this point in time. So it is much better now because I'm not as confused about anything. We just have our routine.

Q. You were just talking a little bit about the importance of your players acting as role models. It seems that particularly of late people have been talking about you as a role model, not just for women in basketball and in coaching but sort of women in sport as a whole and is that something that you sort of constantly keep in mind and think of as an important responsibility of yours?

COACH Pat Summitt: I don't think about it that much, no. More than anything I just want to be Pat Summitt. I want to make sure that I always understand being successful and winning doesn't make you better than anyone else. I've been really fortunate and very blessed to have the job I have and be able to work with the young people that I work with and have the coaching staff. My coaching staff just doesn't get the credit that they deserve.

From that standpoint it's am I aware that I'm a role model? Yes. But all I want to do is be a good person and a good coach and hopefully a good ambassador for this game. When I'm thinking about what I do and the role that I play.

Q. Kim Mulkey has talked a lot about your story where you called her when she was pregnant and becoming a mom. I was wondering if she's so competitive if you'll talk about the mom side of Kim and what you see with that.

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, I'm sure it's changed her a little bit. It changed me a lot. But I see her with her kids and they're a big part of this. Tyler, I mean he's just grown up with the game. He was 14 days old when he took his first trip with us. And I think he was born on Friday and at practice on Tuesday the next week. But that's a great life for kids. And why? Because they're around kids and they're around the game. And he's learned so much. And I know Kim's children have probably benefited tremendously from it, just to have the role models that they have. Certainly for her son as for my son, I mean he has a whole different level of respect for women and for what these young women have accomplished.

Q. You mentioned that Semeka and Al earlier, for a program that doesn't play you regularly, do you think it helps in preparation to have a former player and a former coach from your staff on their team?

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, I think just the fact that they are familiar with our team and our style of play. Of course there's not a lot of secrets when you're on TV as much as we are, but I think it may be just more what to expect from our team as an insider's look. But I think as far as the X's and the O's, I mean everyone knows what we're going to do, and it's just a matter of execution of players and I don't think that hopefully it's not going to be an edge that we can't overcome. I know they're going to be very prepared. I'm extremely impressed with Michigan State as a basketball team, the balance. They got four starters in double figures. They didn't just get here because they were a good team; they got here because they were a great team. We played Stanford. I know what they did to Stanford and I have tremendous respect for this team coming in, our players as well.

Q. Two questions. One, what impresses you about Kristin Haynie, their point guard, and also with their match up zone, is more important for Shyra to start off and get off to a good start or just let Shanna need to start hitting shots against that early?

COACH Pat Summitt: First of all to speak to Haynie, what a great point guard. You know obviously she can put it on the floor, she can catch and shoot. I think that the thing that I've been so impressed with is is that she makes great decisions whether it's to get the ball inside. When she gives it up, she moves extremely well without it. Or obviously to make a play herself, she just, to me, she's physically strong and very heady. And I told our basketball team I think she will be one of the best points guards they have faced this season and obviously we have faced a lot of good ones.

We didn't get here with one player having to step up early and play and I think that Michigan State can say the same thing. It's not like they don't have an All American and we don't have an All American. But we have players that can make All American plays and we rely on the team.

With the match up zone, the one thing I can tell you, I'm just glad we have Vanderbilt in our conference. We have played their match up three times and they're very, very good at it and a lot like Michigan State. I think you cannot get impatient. You have to be patient if you want to play against the match up. And certainly they have a lot of patience and we'll have to demonstrate the same patience offensively.

Q. Is there any aspect of tomorrow night's game that you do not want to see Michigan State dominate?

COACH Pat Summitt: The boards. We want to be real stingy when it comes to who gets the ball off the glass. I think that at this point in time in particular we understand typically games at this time of the year, or throughout the season, they're not won on first shots. And we have to be mindful of really controlling the board play. That's not anything new. Everyone knows. Defense and board play has just been the trademark of who we are and of our program year in and year out. So that's going to be a strong focus on the part of our team and our coaching staff.

Q. I was wondering if you were, if you had to leave the game and retire or something, not that I'm trying to push you out

COACH Pat Summitt: Well you wouldn't be the first.


Q. Are you pleased with the direction of the women's college game right now and would you feel like with coaches like Kim and Pokey that it would be in good hands?

COACH Pat Summitt: Well, certainly I'm excited about the direction that the women's game is taking and has taken over the years. I get real emotional sometimes just when I turn on the tube and I see all the fans and just see the level of play and to see players like Kim and Pokey that are now coaching the game. To me that's what it's all about. You got a lot of great players, that have played this game. And they were two great, great point guards. We didn't have the success I wish we would have had against both of them as players. But certainly as coaches they have already been difference makers. What Kim's done in five years just it speaks volumes to her talent as a coach, a communicator, a teacher. And then you look at Pokey, and I think that it would be very, very difficult to lose your mentor to illness and then have to turn around and take over the team who obviously was very emotional, you know, stressed and upset about Coach Gunter and do what she did a year ago. And now this year it's more of Pokey's team and again, they're on the same path, on the same track. And she's just done an awesome job with this LSU team. So I think that if you take those two, they would be good examples of that great players can in fact become great coaches.

DEBBIE BYRNE: Pat. Thank you very much.



Tennessee Forward Brittany Jackson

On Michigan State's run this season: "They are playing great right now. They've beat some great teams. They play great as a team and we really respect them. We just really have to go out and play our game tomorrow night."

On the keys to beating Michigan State: "We have to go out and play our style of basketball. We are playing really great team basketball right now. We need to get it inside and our post players are doing a great job. We need to play our game and stop them right from the start. Defense and rebounding are key as well."

On Shyra Ely: "We are so happy to bring them home (to Indianapolis). We are so excited for this team and especially for them."

On Coach Pat Summitt: "She's the greatest coach in the country in my opinion. She's taught us so much. We are happy to bring her back in the Final Four."

Tennessee Forward Dominique Redding

On being in Indianapolis for the Final Four: "It has been great so far. The banquet last night was fun. We are just really excited to be here and ready to play tomorrow."

Tennessee Center Nicky Anosike

On Michigan State's inside play: "They are big and physical. We are going to try to run hard and they do the same thing, so we are going to have to concentrate on getting back in position. Overall, they look good and I think we are going be challenged this game."

On keys to beating Michigan State: "I think the key is not rushing and keeping our composure. We need to play our game and not let their style affect us."

Tennessee Guard Alexis Hornbuckle

On NCAA tournament experience: "I am excited and ready to get on the court. Everyone plays to make it to the NCAA tournament. The tournament starts with 64 teams and now there are four who are going to battle it out. I think it's great that we are one of those teams. I've been thinking about a day like today since I was in eighth grade. I told my self I want to be a Lady Vol and I am going to win a national championship. These are my goals and hopefully I can live my dream out. So far I have by just coming here, but I want to take it all the way."

On role on the team this season: "My role has changed this season. When I came in I was running a lot and just adjusting to the collegiate game itself. When Loree (Moore) went down, I had to step up and play point guard and had to learn a lot about leadership as a freshman. Coach pulled me aside and told me that the team needed leadership and everybody had to take ownership. As a point guard you already have to do that. So, I had to do that and step up. You have to be able to call the plays, see the defense, call out the defense, and get your team ready. It's helped me out and helped me grow up a little quicker."

Summitt changed game, but she's stayed the same

DALLAS - Texas A&M coach Gary Blair painfully recalls his first encounter with Pat Summitt, at a North Texas State basketball camp in 1977.

Blair was fresh from winning a state title with the South Oak Cliff (Texas) girls team. Summitt, then Pat Head, had just begun her coaching career at Tennessee. The two were on opposite sides in a pickup game. Blair quickly discovered Summitt's competitive instincts.

"I got the total hell beat out of me," Blair said. "Everything was either a behind-the-back pass or an elbow in the ribs."

Since then, Summitt's win total and reputation have skyrocketed.

She has taken Tennessee to the Final Four for the 16th time and eighth time in 11 years.

The Lady Vols meet Michigan State on Sunday. When she surpassed North Carolina's Dean Smith for the most wins of any NCAA Division I coach, it became a major media event. At 52, she has become the dominant personality in her sport.

The qualities that helped her win six national titles and 83.8 percent of her games endure. She retains a steely blue-eyed stare, the one that resembles a bird of prey.

"She still has that fight, she still wants perfection and she still wants things done a certain way," Tennessee senior point guard Loree Moore said.

To understand Summitt's career is to travel back to the formative years of women's basketball.

She began as an assistant at Tennessee in 1974 and was promoted to coach two months later at 22. Then, women's basketball was more of a novelty than a sport.

Zero scholarships.

No off-campus recruiting.

Free admission to games.

"It was just a step above intramurals," Summitt said.

Summitt and Tennessee didn't grow with the game as much as they led it. Her teams were seldom flashy, even with rosters brimming with high school All-Americans. They were sound, dedicated to defense and hard to play against.

"I think you have to be tough, and that starts in practice," Summitt said. "Our practices are really tougher than a lot of our games. You get from players what you demand, not what you expect. We demand a lot from our players."

The wins started coming with regularity, although many early ones were against schools such as Tennessee-Martin and Maryville.

But Tennessee soon put together the nation's toughest schedule, playing such powers as Texas, USC, Old Dominion and Louisiana Tech anywhere, anytime.

Summitt didn't win a national title until 1987. Then five more followed in a 12-year span. She had defined the women's game.

Blair built a national-caliber program at Arkansas, and beat Summitt only once in 10 years. "And I cherish that win," he said.

Even though Tennessee is making its fourth consecutive Final Four appearance, the Lady Vols haven't won a title since 1998.

Another title is a distinct possibility, especially with recent nemesis Connecticut eliminated.

"Do I see her slowing down at all?" Blair said. "Not a bit."



Pat Summitt's record in 16 Final Four appearances as Tennessee's coach:

17 Wins

9 Losses

6 Titles

5 Runners-up

Women hit big time: Vegas takes action

NCAA, FBI officials give Final 4 teams primer on gambling.

The women's Final Four is drawing much more than local and television interest. It's drawing action in Las Vegas.

Yes, the women's basketball NCAA Tournament is on the big board in casino sports books.

It's a coming of age of sorts. The wagering interest has grown along with the TV coverage. Only the championship game was televised in 1982, the first year the NCAA sponsored the women's tournament. For the past three years, all 63 games have been televised.

"The key to sports betting is if people can see it on TV," said Robert Walker, who sets the lines and the odds on the women's tournament for the MGM Mirage casinos in Las Vegas. "TV drives everything."

In response, the NCAA is making sure the women get the same education about what gambling can mean to them, and to their game, that the men hear at their Final Four, football bowl games and Frozen Four hockey playoffs.

Deana Garner, the NCAA's associate director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities, will meet with the four teams separately today, explaining the NCAA rules and consequences regarding gambling. An FBI agent will speak about how some student-athletes have landed in prison for helping to "fix" games.

"The first year I did this presentation, in 2000, the young ladies were amazed, and they wondered why the FBI needs to be in their locker room," Garner said.

In addition, Michael Franzese, a former member of an organized crime family who spent time in prison on gambling-related charges, will speak to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association on Tuesday at its convention here.

Simply put, NCAA Bylaw 10.3 says any kind of wagering on sports, or sharing information that is used for wagering, can cost an athlete his or her scholarship. The athlete could be suspended from competition or permanently banned from college sports.

As is the practice for athletes competing in bowl games, the men's basketball tournament, the Frozen Four and the College World Series, all of the athletes competing in the women's basketball NCAA Tournament (and all of the officials) were required to sign a notarized affidavit swearing to the truth of their answers on a series of questions about gambling.

Since 2000, NCAA student-athletes have noticed a stepped-up anti-gambling campaign. There are posters for the locker rooms, brochures to accompany the videos and speakers, even wristbands in NCAA blue warning: DON'T BET ON IT.

So far, there has not been evidence of a major problem with betting on the women's tournament, either from inside or out.

Last May, the NCAA released a gambling survey of 21,000 student-athletes, men and women. The results showed that 17.2 percent of Division I men reported wagering on collegiate sports, as did 5.9 percent of Division I women. The numbers are higher among basketball players: 21.2 percent of men, 8.2 percent of women.

No women's players or teams have received major penalties for betting on sports. Not so with the men, for whom serious trouble dates to the point-shaving scandal at City College of New York in the 1950s.

There were incidents involving Boston College basketball in the 1970s and Tulane basketball in the 1980s, and, in the mid-1990s, a scandal that involved Northwestern basketball players shaving points in a deal set up by former Notre Dame kicker Kevin Pendergast.

Northwestern guard Dion Lee and Pendergast eventually pleaded guilty to sports bribery.

Bill Saum, director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities for the NCAA since 1996, uses that case as an example of why the NCAA takes such a strong stand, even on pools so popular at this time of year.

In last May's poll, 15.4 percent of the men said they had gambled on a category of wagering that included "football cards and pools," as did 3.8 percent of women.

"We have to take a zero tolerance position," Saum said. "We can't tell our student-athletes that gambling is sort of OK at a dollar, but it's not at $2. That's why we take the position that pools are gambling."

While gambling on women's basketball has increased in the 12 years the sport has been on the boards in Las Vegas, it's nowhere near as popular as the men's event. The men's NCAA Tournament rivals the Super Bowl in wagering interest, with some $80 million spent in Nevada in March. An estimated $2 million is wagered on the women's tournament in that same period.

Walker said most casinos take action starting with the Sweet Sixteen in the women's event. He said he takes a chance being the "lone wolf" setting lines on the entire bracket.

But he also stresses that money is for legal betting, and that illegal gambling far outpaces it. On that point he and Saum agree.

Saum says he is concerned that student-athletes who begin betting with pools -- as Pendergast told Saum he did -- could end up on the wrong side of the law.

Saum lists "the well-being of our student-athletes" first and the integrity of the college game second when he explains why the NCAA is so concerned with betting. "We want the athletes to understand all of these things so they don't end up associating with the wrong people."

Summitt masters changes

Injuries caused Tennessee women's coach to adjust her lineup, find new stars.

DETROIT -- When the season began, coach Pat Summitt anticipated having another strong team at Tennessee.

The women's Final Four at the RCA Dome was a realistic expectation after last season's young Lady Vols reached the NCAA championship game. The three departing seniors were not dominant players, and the incoming freshman class was considered the best in the history of the women's game.

But then knee injuries hit. The Lady Vols are down four players from the start of the season -- freshmen Candace Parker and Alex Fuller missed the entire season, freshman Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood battled knee pain before February surgery, and sophomore Sidney Spencer suffered torn knee ligaments during a February practice, ending her season.

That solved Tennessee's preseason question about playing time, but the group now playing in the NCAA Tournament looks a bit different from what Summitt expected, even in early February.

The Lady Vols play Michigan State in Sunday's second national semifinal game.

"If you'd told me going into the year we'd be without the (missing players), I would say it's a long and very challenging year for us," Summitt said.

Spencer's loss was the toughest, she said.

"The others arrived with complications, but with Sid, I'll tell you that was the hardest one to take because of the timing of it and all the dimensions of her game because she can play multiple positions," Summitt said. "But the team handled it so well."

All of the Lady Vols' losses came against top-15 teams. Tennessee is similar to Michigan State, though with far less stable parts. There are only two double-figure scorers -- Shyra Ely at 14.5 points and Shanna Zolman at 12.5. With 30 starts, Ely is the only Lady Vol to have started more than 24 games.

Eight players have started this season. Among the biggest surprises has been Alexis Hornbuckle, one of the freshmen who survived and thrived. She averages 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds.

Even though Michigan State assistant coach Al Brown was an assistant at Tennessee in 1995-2002, that doesn't help much this week. Most of the players he knew have moved on, and Summitt never lets anything remain stagnant.

"Part of it is personnel and part of it is Pat because she is constantly changing," Brown said. "She's constantly upgrading; that's what makes her so unique. It's an ongoing change with her, often by the month. It's not a static situation."

As successful as Summitt has been, she's disturbed by the expectation that Tennessee should win solely on reputation.

When someone pointed out that the Lady Vols haven't won a national title since 1998 -- their longest drought since their first championship in 1987 -- Summitt said she had no reservations about her program.

"I'm proud of the teams that have been there and played in the championship games and have gotten us to the Final Four," she said. "In the role we're in, if we don't win a championship, somehow that's a failure? That's not true."

Summitt's Intensity Stokes Tennessee's Fire

Normally, coaching milestones come packaged with an inevitable discussion about retirement - particularly when the milestone becomes as weighty as 880 victories - and people begin wondering aloud how much longer the coach in question can muster the energy for the job.

Except when the coach in question is Tennessee's Pat Summitt.

Summitt, the coach with the most N.C.A.A. victories in college basketball, flew past that career marker on March 22 the way an express train goes by a local station. She passed the former North Carolina coach Dean Smith with a sincere but decidedly brief acknowledgement.

If you caught even a few seconds of her on the sideline at any game in this year's N.C.A.A. women's tournament, waving her arms, shouting instructions and willing her team through every possession on the way to this weekend's Final Four in Indianapolis, retirement is not a word that leaps to mind.

"We just talked on the phone, and I said, 'You'll still be coaching when you're 80 years old,' " said Michelle Marciniak, a former player of Summitt's and now an assistant coach at South Carolina. "She said, 'You think so?'

"She still has that fire. She'll put that number way over 1,000. Definitely."

Part of the reason is that Summitt started racking up victories when she was 22 and Tennessee handed her its fledgling program while she was still playing basketball. So she has eclipsed Smith at the age of 52. Smith, who coached 36 seasons, retired with his 879 victories at age 66.

The other reason is that Summitt's 882 victories, offset by 171 defeats, have not begun to sap her trademark intensity. Ask her players if she has mellowed over time and they often respond by laughing.

"If you looked up passion, if you looked up focus in the dictionary, you'd find the definition of her," Joan Cronan, Tennessee women's athletic director, said. "That's what she is all about. And it's my job to keep her here coaching."

In her 31 seasons at Tennessee, Summitt has become the standard by which dynasty-makers are judged. This is the 16th time she has led the Lady Vols to the Final Four, and she is trying to add to six N.C.A.A. titles, starting with tonight's national semifinal against Michigan State. Summitt has averaged 28 victories and 5 losses a season.

She has done it in her now-famous style: hard-driving and intense during games and practices, genteel and gracious when they end.

Although she has changed little, her sport has been transformed. It was not until Summitt's eighth season, 1981-82, that the National Collegiate Athletic Association began running a women's tournament or had a Final Four. Before that, she reached the championship round of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women tournament four times.

Summitt was hired in 1974, shortly after she graduated from Tennessee at Martin. She was trying to recover from a knee injury so she could play on the 1976 Olympic team. The job - which was supposed to be as an assistant coach to Margaret Hudson, who unexpectedly decided to pursue a doctorate instead - was attractive to Summitt largely because she could use the university's facilities to rehabilitate and stay in shape. She was hardly prepared to start a program.

"I was absolutely overwhelmed and scared to death, but I said yes," Summitt recalled last week before the N.C.A.A.'s Philadelphia Regional final. "I'm glad I said yes."

Under A.I.A.W. rules, she was not allowed to recruit players, so she picked her team from campus tryouts. There were no scholarships. Tickets were free. She had no trainer. She drove the van to away games, which were against local teams, taped her players' ankles and turned the gym lights off when she was done. Her assistants received no salary and hers was $250 a month.

Now, her shoes are likely to cost $250.

"It was just a step up from an intramural level," she said. "I remember when we got to go to Rock Hill, S.C. We thought we were headed for New York."

She won in that era, and all the ones to follow. None of the changes fazed her. When the N.C.A.A. supplanted the A.I.A.W., Summitt became the best recruiter, stocking her team in Knoxville with national talent.

As the players became more athletic and played at a faster pace, Summitt adjusted. The field of top teams grew, and Summitt kept her program at or near the head of the pack: 14 of her last 19 teams have reached the Final Four.

She now has former players taking over programs. Point guard Kellie Jolly, now Kellie Harper, coached Western Carolina to a first-round loss to Tennessee in the N.C.A.A. tournament. Summitt has had at least some effect on the careers of many of today's women's coaches.

"What people will remember her for are the championships," said Marciniak, whom Summitt has counseled on her career. "But the people close to her will remember her for influencing lives. She has helped so many people and keeps in touch with a lot of her players. It means a lot to her."

Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie, who will coach against Summit tonight, used Summitt as a reference on her résumé when she was trying to get a head coaching job while an assistant at Auburn. Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson played for Summitt on the 1984 Olympic team and said she turned to Summitt for advice on how to mix coaching and motherhood. (Summitt's son, Tyler, is 14; Mulkey-Robertson now has a daughter and a son.)

"I think Pat is a terrific person, a fabulous coach, and I just think what she's done for women's basketball, it's so hard to talk about because it's just so incredible and will never be duplicated," McCallie said after a practice last week.

This group of coaches will ensure a genteel atmosphere between games at this Final Four, in sharp contrast to last year's. Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, on his way to a third straight national title, had made a public show of hostility to Summitt in recent seasons that seemed to come to a head last year.

Summitt, who talks about other coaches with a reflexive congeniality, was at a loss. She would not retaliate, and in fact endlessly praised Auriemma's team and its accomplishments. But by the end of the Final Four, having lost to UConn in the championship game, Summitt looked unusually drained.

That struggle seemed to take its toll on the normally imperturbable Summitt, but with a new crop of freshman talent headed to Knoxville, she found her peace with it and moved on. "Our expectations are so high here," Cronan said. "Last year we had a team that was an overachiever. It was not our most talented team. I think once she had a chance to step back, Pat realized that, too. It may have been one of her best coaching jobs ever."

With UConn having lost in the Round of 16, Summitt enters this Final Four as the unchallenged center of attention, last year's loss a distant memory, her record victory total the topic of the tournament.

And the coach in question shows no sign of letting that express train slow down.

"I've never seen anything like her," Marciniak said.

Retirement will have to wait.