Monday, August 27, 2007

Indiana 93, Connecticut 88, OT

INDIANAPOLIS - With her team comfortably ahead, Connecticut's Katie Douglas started talking trash to a group of Indiana Fever supporters.

"Y'all quiet over here today," she yelled in the midst of about 6,000 fans, who had little to cheer about for the first three quarters of Monday's Eastern Conference playoff game.

The fans weren't quiet for long. The Fever rallied to force overtime, then completed the biggest comeback in WNBA playoff history by defeating the Sun 93-88 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Fever overcame a 39-17 second-quarter deficit to win the first-round series 2-1. The previous biggest deficit overcome was 21 points, by Minnesota in a 74-72 win on Aug. 28, 2003, against Los Angeles.

Tamika Catchings, who led the Fever with 30 points and 13 rebounds, said her team never lost confidence.

"We did a great job as far as chipping, chipping, chipping," she said. "That's one thing coach talked about. We're not going to get 22 points in one possession."

Tamika Whitmore scored 24 points and Anna DeForge added 18 for the Fever.

Douglas led Connecticut with 27 points and Lindsay Whalen and Asjha Jones both added 21.

The Sun won their first five games against the Fever this season, but lost the two that mattered most. The final score was the same as their first playoff game at Connecticut, which lasted three overtimes.

Indiana outscored Connecticut 45-33 in the fourth quarter and overtime on Monday.

"They just got up and pressured us a little bit more," Douglas said. "They just got stops. We just kind of went cold. You can't expect to be on fire all night.

"When they got stops, they were doing what we were doing to them the first three quarters. They were running it down our throats in transition, getting easy baskets and getting confidence."

In overtime, Catchings hit a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to give the Fever an 89-86 lead. Douglas missed a 3-pointer, and Indiana rebounded with 15.1 seconds left.

Whitmore made the first of two free throws with 14.4 seconds left to bump Indiana's lead to 90-86.

Nykesha Sales scored on a layup with 5 seconds left to cut the Fever's lead to 90-88.

Catchings was fouled on a dead ball and made the one shot. By rule, the Fever were given possession, and Catchings was fouled again. She made both free throws with four seconds left to seal the win for Indiana.

Connecticut led 64-48 in the fourth quarter when the Fever went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by five points from Sheri Sam, to cut their deficit to 64-59 with 6:40 to go.

Indiana chopped the lead to 66-64 on a 3-pointer by Whitmore with 3:05 left, then took the lead on a 3-point play by Whitmore with 2:30 to go.

Indiana took a 73-72 lead on two free throws by Catchings with 45.5 seconds left. Connecticut took possession, but Indiana tipped the ball out of bounds with 8 seconds left on the shot clock. Whalen shot an airball on a fadeaway jumper with the shot clock winding down, and Indiana rebounded with 21.5 seconds to go.

Catchings made two free throws with 20.3 seconds left to give Indiana a 75-72 lead.

Douglas missed a 3-pointer, but Connecticut got the loose ball, and Sales made a 3-pointer to tie the game at 75.

Douglas fouled Catchings as she brought the ball upcourt, and Catchings made two free throws with 5.8 seconds left to give the Fever a 77-75 lead.

Connecticut quickly moved the ball downcourt, and Douglas redeemed herself with a layup with 1.5 seconds left that forced overtime.

"I was thinking if I could dunk it, I'd love to," Douglas said. "I was so frustrated with myself for making a silly foul."

Catchings averaged 19.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in the series, her first three games back after missing 13 games with an injured left foot. DeForge averaged 25 points per game in the series after averaging 8.7 points in the regular season.

Douglas was upset that Connecticut continued its pattern of losing big leads, but she said the Fever had a lot to do with it on Monday.

"Give credit to Indiana," she said. "They didn't hang their heads."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Summitt helps launch Anderson Hall of Fame

Pat Summitt donned a different hat Thursday, going from legendary Lady Vols basketball head coach to cheerleader for a fledgling organization for children.

Summitt was the keynote speaker for a $100-a-plate fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of North Anderson County.

“Obviously, it’s such a great program,” Summitt said. “My passion is making a difference for young people.”

She joined about 350 attendees in paying tribute to 10 of Anderson County’s most distinguished current and former residents.

The occasion was the inaugural Anderson County Hall of Fame.

Each year, the club plans to honor citizens who have made a difference in areas ranging from coach to athlete, from elected official to educator, said the club’s executive director, Beth Farrow.

Area residents nominated candidates, Farrow said. A five-member committee not affiliated with the club picked the honorees, she said.

Thursday’s event brought together the state’s education commissioner, well-known athletes who excelled in University of Tennessee sports, attorneys and doctors.

There was Larry Seivers, now of Knoxville, who snagged enough football passes for the Vols two decades ago to win All America and All SEC honors.

While Seivers won for male athlete, attorney Dail Cantrell was recognized for his years of coaching.

Cantrell mentors volleyball players at Anderson County High School and has coached mock trial teams of aspiring lawyers in Anderson and Clinton high schools.

There was even a father-and-daughter team of honorees. Dr. Curtis Sexton, who has served on many civic and medical organizations, was recognized for his volunteer spirit. His daughter, Shelley Sexton Collier, who was captain of Summitt’s 1987 national championship Lady Vols team, was recognized for her athletic prowess.

Others honored:

n Lana Seivers, the state’s education commissioner and a former director of Clinton City Schools, K-8 educator.

n Joe A. Hollingsworth, who has built a vast business empire, recognized as a business leader.

n Dr. Paul Spray, who volunteered his expertise as an orthopedic surgeon in third-world countries for years, philanthropist.

n Dr. John S. Burrell, recognized for his stints in elected positions ranging from Lake City vice mayor to chairman of the Anderson County School Board.

n James E. Medley, who teaches history at Anderson County High, educator in grades 9-12.

n Gene Wright, a teacher, coach and administrator in local schools for nearly 40 years, won the lifetime achievement recognition.

Farrow said the event was expected to raise between $25,000 and $30,000 for the 2-year-old club, which meets at Lake City Elementary School and now has 175 members.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lady Vols Add Another Commitment to 2008 Class

The defending national champion Tennessee Lady Vols continue to build their 2008 signing class. Five players have now pledge to sign with head coach Pat Summitt in November's early signed period.

The latest Alyssia Brewer, a 6'3" player versatile enough to play both inside and outside. Brewer, a senior at Sapulpa High School, jus tout side of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has career averages of 14.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. Brewer's stock has risen steadily throughout her high school career due to athleticism and size coupled with the ability to slash to the basket from the perimeter.

Brewer is rated as the 20th-best prospect in this year's class by

Brewer joins previous commitments Amber Gray [6'1" wing - West Chester, Ohio], Shekina Stricklin [6'2" wing - Morriton, Arkansas], Alicia Manning [6'1" wing - Woodstock, Georgia] and Brianna Bass [5'2" point guard - Indianapolis, Indiana]. According to, Gray is the nation's 4th best prospect, Stricklin 9th and Manning 11th.

Even though the Lady Vols have five pledged for their 2008 class, the recruiting work is far from over. Coach Summitt is still in pursuit of two of the top three players in the country.

Glory Johnson, a 6'3" forward from Webb School in Knoxville is rated as the #3 player in the nation. Johnson led the Spartans to the Divison II state championship last season and is athletic enough to win seven state track championships.

Johnson has been considering five schools - Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Duke, although recent reports indicate that the Lady Vols and Tar Heels are the two finalists.

Also on the board is the nation's top ranked player. Elana Delle Donne, a 6'4" wing, from Wilmington, Delaware, has long been thought to eventually choose between Connecticut and Tennessee.

However, her status is somewhat mysterious following her late spring decision to forego any other discussion about recruiting and to take the summer off from basketball.

With that decision, she bypassed a spot on the USA's under-19 team that went to Slovakia and claimed the world championship. UConn fans were hopeful of seeing Delle Donne on the court with Huskie commitment Maya Moore. Some even felt the two already new they would be playing together in college. UConn pushed for a commitment in late spring before Delle Donne decided to get away in hopes of easing some of the pressure.

Now, sources close to the prized recruit say that Tennessee and Connecticut may not even be on the top of the list. Delle Donne's brother plays football at Middle Tennessee State and Villanova, is much closer to home where she is very close to a younger sister that has cerebral palsey and is autistic.

There is not set timetable by either Johnson or Delle Donne on when their college decisions will be made.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pat Summitt Files for Divorce

To view/download Pat Head Summitt's divorce filing, click here.

University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball coach Pat Head Summitt filed for divorce from longtime husband R.B. Summitt II Wednesday afternoon in Blount County.

The complaint, which includes Pat Head Summitt’s signature that was notarized on Aug. 2., was filed in the Equity Division of Blount County Circuit Court at about 2:15 p.m. and states that Pat Head Summitt is “seeking an absolute divorce” from her husband.

Preparing for her 34th season at UT, Summitt is the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach with 947 victories, including seven national championships, and is her sport’s highest-paid coach with an annual salary of more than $1.1 million. Following the 2006 season, the former Olympian signed a six-year contract extension that eventually will pay Summitt $1.5 million.

Through a University of Tennessee spokesperson, Pat Summitt declined to comment on the divorce proceedings.

Patricia Head, 55, born in Clarksville, and Ross B. Summitt, 56, born in Sevierville, were married almost 27 years ago in Clarksville. They had a child together who will turn 17 next month, and they bought land in Blount County June 7, 1990.

According to the divorce complaint, Pat Head Summitt, “asserts that irreconcilable differences have arisen between the parties which makes the granting of an absolute divorce appropriate.”

“Wife reserves the right to add such additional grounds as may be determined following the completion of discovery procedures,” the complaint states.

Pat Head Summitt plans to develop a Marital Dissolution Agreement and Permanent Parenting Plan to present to the court. The complaint states that if the parties fail to do this, the court should provide an “equitable distribution of the marital assets of the parties, provide an appropriate insurance program, child custody and child support and such other, further and general relief as she may show herself entitled to upon a hearing of this cause.”

Summitt led Tennessee to national titles in 1987, ’89, 1991, ’96, ’97, ’98 and 2007 and her seven titles are second only to Hall of Fame coach John Wooden’s 10. With a 75-54 win over Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament March 22, 2005, Summitt became the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach with her 880th victory and UT officials officially renamed the court inside Thompson-Boling Arena “The Summitt” in honor of the Lady Vols coach.

“There have been no discussions of changing the court name or her name,” said Tiffany Carpenter, director of public relations for UT athletics.

A local judge said a name can be changed at the time the divorce is finalized or can be changed later.

“It can be done either way. Most of the time it’s done at the time of the divorce,” the judge said.

Bernard E. Bernstein filed the complaint and is representing Pat Head Summitt in the divorce. He said both parties are hoping to resolve any issues to facilitate the divorce.
“The parties are going to make a determined effort to conclude the divorce amicably,” Bernstein told The Daily Times on Wednesday afternoon.

Bernstein said the Summitts separated several months ago and the filed complaint starts the process of the divorce.

“They’re both concerned about the welfare of their son,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein said he would rather not say who was representing R.B. Summitt, who is president of Sevier County Bank, because the attorney has made “no official appearance.”

A local judge said the Summitts will have to wait at least 90 days before the divorce can be finalized in Blount County Circuit Court and said, “Generally, if it’s agreed to, that’s what would happen.” He said that if divorcing parties do not have children, they only have to wait 60 days.

The judge said R.B. Summitt will have 30 days to respond and admit or deny any allegations in the complaint. The respondent will file an answer to the complaint and has the opportunity to file a counter claim if desired.

“After that, it would be up to both parties’ lawyers to reach a resolution.

“The more you have (in assets) — the more you’ve got to get settled,” the judge said.

If both parties cannot reach a resolution, the law now requires that the parties seek mediation. If mediation does not resolve differences, there will be a trial and a judge will make the final decisions.

“Most divorce cases are solved before the court has to hear them,” the judge said.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fever will not rush injured star Catchings

Tamika Catchings' fragile left foot is not only supporting WNBA playoff hopes of the Indiana Fever. Upon that foot might also ride participation by Team USA at the 2008 Olympics.

The Fever (19-12) are home tonight against the Connecticut Sun, who are 17-14 following Tuesday's 65-64 loss at Washington.

With the 34-game schedule almost complete, the Fever and Sun inevitably will meet in next week's first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as seed Nos. 2 and 3. The Fever would secure the No. 2 seed -- and home-court advantage over No. 3 -- with a victory.

But no one in the organization wants to rush Catchings into action -- even if that means she misses the playoffs.

"We're certainly not going to do anything to jeopardize the long-term future of her health," Fever coach Brian Winters said Tuesday.

USA Basketball will want Catchings to play for the national team at the Americas Championships in Chile from Sept. 23-27. The winner qualifies for Beijing. Second through fourth place must go through an Olympic qualifying tournament in June 2008.
After that tournament, Catchings said, the national team is to train in Russia and play exhibitions against college teams.

Catchings wore an orthotic and carbon fiber plate in her shoe Monday for the first time. Otherwise, she wears a protective boot and maintains fitness through workouts in a swimming pool.

She has not practiced with the team since tearing her plantar fascia July 20.

Fever trainer Holly Heitzman said she is cautiously optimistic Catchings can return for the playoffs but didn't specify a timetable.

"With something like this, you can't get right back into it," Catchings said. "The tear is still there. It's just smaller."

Catchings conceded her minutes might be limited even if she does return for the playoffs.

The Fever have gone 3-8 after a 16-4 start that had them atop the league. In Catchings' absence, they have employed a three-guard lineup of Tan White, Tully Bevilaqua and Anna DeForge.

White, a candidate for the league's inaugural Sixth Woman of the Year award, has become the Fever's most prolific scorer since replacing Catchings in the starting lineup. She has averaged 15.5 points over the past six games.

Even with Catchings, the Fever have floundered against Connecticut. The Sun have won 15 of the past 18 meetings, going 3-0 against the Fever this year.

"If we come out and we beat them and show that we can actually play with them, it would mean a lot to this team," White said. "And just letting them know we're not going to bow down.

"With or without Catchings, we're capable of winning because we have a good team."
Sometimes, White said, the Fever play as if they have advanced five steps. Other times, she added, "it looks like we're back to zero."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tennessee's schedule as tough as always

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Lady Volunteers released their 2007-08 schedule Monday.

The defending NCAA champions will start new rivalries and renew old ones when next season arrives.

In addition to the typical SEC powerhouses, the Lady Vols are also scheduled to play both of last season's Final Four opponents, North Carolina and Rutgers (ESPN2's Big Monday, Feb. 11), as well as Oklahoma, Texas, Duke, Stanford and UCLA this coming season. The Tar Heels (ESPN2, Dec. 2) will make their first trip to Knoxville in 20 years, Oklahoma and Tennessee have played on only two previous occasions and the Lady Vols will look to end a three-game skid against Duke.

Including exhibition games, Tennessee will play 17 home dates in its newly renovated arena.

"Our schedule for the coming season is extremely competitive, exciting and challenging," said Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who is beginning her 34th season at Tennessee and is the NCAA's all-time winningest coach (947-180). "As usual, we take on an aggressive schedule which allows us to prepare for postseason play. … Our fans will be treated to a tremendous home schedule."

LSU, last season's other Final Four participant in Cleveland, will also play in Knoxville (Feb. 14).

"It'll be a Cleveland reunion at various times this season at Thompson-Boling Arena," said Summitt, whose Lady Vols will play teams from nine different conferences, including four from the Big East.

The 2007-08 season will tip off with a pair of exhibition games, first against the United States senior national team on Nov. 4 and then Carson-Newman on Nov. 6. The Lady Vols officially open the season at home on Nov. 11 facing Chattanooga.

The November slate also includes a trip to the Tampa-St. Pete Times Forum, site of the 2008 Women's Final Four, for the ESPNU Invitational, where the Lady Vols will play Oklahoma (ESPNU, Nov. 15). The Lady Vols return home to meet Texas (ESPN2, Nov. 18) before traveling to Charleston, W.Va., for Alexis Hornbuckle's senior homecoming game versus West Virginia (Nov. 21). Long-time rival Louisiana Tech travels to Knoxville on Nov. 26.

In December, Tennessee also host Old Dominion, Middle Tennessee and Gonzaga, which will make its first trip to Knoxville. Then the Lady Vols will play UCLA at Pauley Pavilion for the first time since 1999. Tennessee will cap the West coast swing at Stanford on Dec. 22.

In January, the Lady Vols renew their rivalry with DePaul after a two-season hiatus, on Jan. 2 (ESPNU) in Chicago. Tennessee then travels to South Bend, Ind., to face Notre Dame on Jan. 5 (CBS). Back in Knoxville for the first time in almost a month, Tennessee opens SEC play facing Auburn at home on Jan. 10. Tennessee then travels to South Carolina (Jan. 13) and Kentucky (Jan. 17) before hosting Vanderbilt (Jan. 20) and Arkansas (Jan. 24) at the Arena. The Lady Vols step out of conference play for a "Big Monday" meeting at Duke (Jan. 28) and conclude the month at Mississippi (Jan. 31).

February finds the Lady Vols enjoying five home games: Kentucky (Feb. 3), a "Big Monday" meeting with Rutgers (ESPN2, Feb. 11), LSU (Feb. 14), Mississippi State (Feb. 24) and Florida (Feb. 28). February road trips include jaunts to Mississippi State (Feb. 7), Vanderbilt (Feb. 17) and to Alabama (Feb. 21). UT plays a rare March regular-season game, at Georgia on March 2.

Tennessee will play home-and-home SEC games with Kentucky and Mississippi State to go along with its annual home-and-home traditional rival contests versus Vanderbilt.

Monday, August 06, 2007

USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team Wins Gold

Bratislava, Slovakia - Four Tennessee Lady Vol basketball players exchanged the Orange and White for the Red, White and Blue of USA teams this summer and all mined gold.

Latest to earn the gold are incoming University of Tennessee basketball freshmen, 6-4 post Vicki Baugh (Sacramento, CA) and 6-0 guard Angie Bjorklund (Spokane, WA), who both helped the USA to an 8-0 record on the USA Women's U19 World Championship Team. Today, the USA defeated Sweden, 99-57, as both players contributed to the victory. Earlier this summer, rising seniors Alexis Hornbuckle and Nicky Anosike helped to lead the USA to the 2007 Pan American Games gold medal in Brazil.

In the U19 gold medal game, Bjorklund registered 11 points, added one rebound and two assists in 16 minutes of action. Baugh, a starting post, scored five points, claimed nine rebounds to go along with three blocks and a steal in 17 minutes on the hardwood.

Here's what they had to say.

Vicki Baugh

On the game tonight:
"We came ready to play. We knew it was our last game and that it was for the gold medal. Playing so well makes the gold as sweet as it can get. We've earned it. We really have."

On winning gold:
"I'm so proud of everything we've accomplished. It's the most incredible feeling. After what we've been through, it really is the most incredible feeling. I wouldn't have been so proud without all our hard work."

Angie Bjorklund

On the game tonight:
"It was definitely sweet beating them how we did. It was so much fun, and it was a great way to end things."

On winning gold:
"lt's crazy. After all that we've been through, the hard work, it feels so great. It's been such a fun journey on the way. Looking back it went by so fast."

On her experience:
"This was definitely a little intro to college basketball, and I'm a better player because of it. It was a good experience for me."

Summitt right to cancel series with UConn

To the Editor:

David Climer's opinion article regarding the cancellation of the Tennessee-UConn women's basketball series is a fine example of what is wrong with college athletics — too much emphasis on playing the game and too little emphasis on playing the game the right way ("Summitt wrong to cancel UConn series," June 18).

There are things that happen in college recruiting that reach beyond the scope of decency, and that line has been crossed. Coach Pat Summitt doesn't have to explain her reasons for canceling the series — her silence tells the entire story, and it's a shame that she's taking the heat over this.

Geno Auriemma should hope that Coach Summitt remains silent, because when the real story breaks, he will be the one who will have to face some tough questions.

That moment, in contrast to what David Climer and many fans across the country believe, will be the dark day in women's college basketball.

Canceling UConn series Summitt’s folly
by David Climer

Over the course of her remarkable career, Pat Summitt has won games, influenced people and generally been the guiding light of her chosen profession — coaching women’s college basketball.
She helped build the game.
Recently, though, Summitt did something very, very bad for women’s basketball. She canceled the long-standing series between Tennessee and Connecticut.
Summitt doesn’t make many mistakes but when she does, it’s a doozy.
The series was canceled without any explanation from Summitt or UT. UConn officials said they were simply notified the game would not be on the Lady Vols’ schedule this season. That was it.
What motivated Summitt, coming off her seventh national championship, to hit the delete button? Some believe it is her personality conflict with UConn Coach Geno Auriemma. But in recent season, the two seemed to have buried the hatchet.
More likely, it centers on some hard feelings lingering from a major recruiting battle. The Lady Vols lost Maya Moore, the consensus national player of the year, to UConn.
Whatever the reason, canceling the UT-UConn series is bad for women’s hoops. It is one of the few regular-season games that gets national attention. Casual and non-fans of the women’s game sat up and took notice when the Lady Vols and the Huskies played.
Now, we’ll have to wait until tournament time and see if the fickle bracket aligns the two programs.
Pat Summitt doesn’t lose often.
But she lost face on this one.
Big time.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Summitt rested, ready for more challenges

Fresh off her seventh national championship, Pat Summitt has navigated her way through what's been a pretty eventful offseason.

There was the harrowing ambulance ride to the hospital in June after the Lady Vols Hall of Fame head coach fainted at her Alcoa home and was kept overnight to be treated for dehydration.

Not long after that, the news broke that Tennessee was discontinuing its series with arch-rival Connecticut, a move that reverberated throughout the women's college basketball world and one UT officials haven't shed much light on.

Summitt, in a recent sitdown with Volquest, was quick to clear up a couple of things.

For starters, she's well and hasn't experienced any ill effects from her bout with dehydration. The challenge now is simply getting through the mountain of cards and letters that came pouring in after fans learned that she was in the hospital.

Secondly, Summitt is unfazed by any criticism that might have come her way for the Lady Vols canceling the hottest rivalry in women's college basketball and than taking a silence stance on all the reasons why.

By no means was it an abrupt decision, Summitt said. She also said that she talked with Connecticut head coach Gene Auriemma by phone and made it abundantly clear what her reasons were.

"We talked, and he knows exactly how I feel," Summitt said. "I'm a very principled person, and I felt strongly that I needed to move in a different direction."

Summitt said her reasons were more professional than personal, but she declined to elaborate further.

However, Volquest has learned that the final straw in the cancellation of the series came when Summitt received information that top prospect Caroline Doty (who plans to sign with UConn in November) allegedly had lunch with former UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird while visiting the Storrs campus.

Such a meeting would constitute an NCAA violation, because former players are not allowed to be a part of the recruiting process. The Lady Vols were also recruiting Doty, who's from Pottstown, Pa.

Summitt understands the disappointment of women's hoops fans that the Lady Vols and Huskies won't be playing any longer in the regular season. She said that UConn officials also were none too pleased. But she thinks the women's game has moved on from the days where one game defines a season.

"It's not like that was going to be a popular decision because of the rivalry and interest in that game," Summitt said. "But we're at a different place now in women's basketball. You look at the number of quality teams. Plus, we picked up Rutgers and Oklahoma."

Summitt remains the highest paid coach in the women's game. She earned $1.125 million last year as part of a new deal that runs through the 2011-12 season. She also collected a $250,000 bonus for winning the national title.

With Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl recently getting a bump in pay that will take him to $1.3 million next season, some have wondered if Summitt will push for a comparable deal.

She insists that she's not caught up in making more money than Pearl, who has two different retention bonuses in his new deal that he won't collect unless he's still the coach in 2009-10 and 2012-13.

"I want to feel like that I'm compensated for my longevity," said Summitt, who's been at Tennessee for 34 years. "I don't want to be compared to the men's game or to Bruce. I want to be compared to what others are doing in the women's game."

Asked if she was content with her current contract, Summitt said, "Overall, I am. But I think the landscape in women's basketball with the contracts is different now. Gail (Goestenkors) goes to Texas for $1 million and (Baylor's) Kim Mulkey is making more than $1 million for the next 10 years.

"I give the university credit. My contract really helped change the landscape of women's basketball in that regard. But I think other people will step up to the plate as well, particularly when there's a coaching change. That's usually when you see an increase in the coaching salaries."

Summitt, 55, said she's told Tennessee women's athletics director Joan Cronan that she'd like to coach five more years.

"After that, I told her, 'I'll just have to let you know,' " Summitt said. "But I feel great. Unless I have any health issues, I think I can keep going."

Her 947 career victories are already the most ever by an NCAA coach (men or women), and it's not out of the realm of possibility that she could match John Wooden's record of 10 national titles.

"You know, it took nine years to get No. 7, so I don't ever think about Coach Wooden's record," Summitt said. "I hope I'm fortunate enough to coach another team and see it cut down nets. I've always thought of (10 national titles) as being untouchable, what all he accomplished."

The most pleasing thing about ending the Lady Vols' national title drought last year, according to Summitt, was seeing that group of players justly rewarded.

"It was a great feeling," Summitt said. "I forget what it felt like, actually. For me, it was all about helping this team. They wanted to play together. Not all teams think they need each other. But this team … they got it. They understood it.

"I think not winning it the year before and maybe having some of their own personal agendas … to have this team do what they did, I didn't want them to lose. I said, 'This team deserves to win this championship.' "

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Angry Taurasi fires back at Lady Vols

Diana Taurasi is still angry about allegations made by Tennessee and the SEC that she and Sue Bird played an illegal role in the recruitment of Connecticut freshman Maya Moore by offering the then-high school junior a ride to the Naismith Awards in Atlanta after the 2006 Final Four.

Taurasi, a WNBA All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury, reiterated Thursday she had nothing to do with Moore choosing UConn over Tennessee.

"As ridiculous as that theory is, it's also not true," Taurasi said. "Sue and I were in Moscow at the time (playing in the European championships with their Russian team, Dynamo Moscow). ... If you are going to make allegations like that, you might want to make sure the people (you are accusing) are in the same place at the same time. It's irresponsible to say something like that. It wasn't humanly possible, either. We weren't in the same continent. We offered a written response about our location. We provided witnesses (to vouch for their location). It's ridiculous to do something like that."

The NCAA, UConn and Tennessee are prohibited from publicly admitting the SEC filed a complaint on behalf of Tennessee in regard to Moore's recruitment. But a source other than Taurasi and Bird, who also denied the implication, confirmed Wednesday UConn had to produce documents proving Taurasi and Bird's whereabouts in April 2006.

Alumni are prohibited from solicited contact with recruits in an effort to influence their decision. However, former players are allowed to answer questions provided they were not instructed to interact by the coaching staff.

Taurasi also assumes Tennessee might be angry about alleged contact between alumni and recruits during on-campus visits by former UConn players who return to see coach Geno Auriemma and his staff.

"All these reasons are ridiculous," Taurasi said. "If you are going to blame Coach Auriemma for having players who love him and come back to see him, then it's just too bad. When I visit him, and I try to do so as often as I can because of all his family did for me when I was there, the only people I talk to are the current players."

Moore, of Collins Hill High in Suwanee, Ga., chose UConn over Tennessee one week after winning her first Naismith Award. She won another as a senior.

Taurasi said it's unfortunate if Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt chose the Moore recruitment as the reason to end the series with UConn last month. A Tennessee spokesman told The Courant in June the reasons ran deeper than recruiting.

"I'm really disappointed about this. It took so much to build it up," Taurasi said. "This was a sporting event that sports fans watched. ... But you know, I just guess that certain people don't think this is an important game anymore. ... So let's find someone else and make something beautiful happen, like Rutgers, LSU or Duke. If this was her (Summitt's) reason for stopping the game then we (UConn) are better off not being a part of it."