Sunday, February 24, 2008

Approaching a summit, Stringer is praised by one

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt's 971 victories are more than any other Division 1 coach in NCAA history. The Hall of Famer talked to us about C. Vivian Stringer's legacy.

What is the most impressive part of Vivian closing in on the 800-win plateau?

Vivian has had a tremendous impact on our game. She's been able to do something that a lot of people have never done -- and that's win wherever she coaches. That speaks volumes. That's the most impressive part. I've never coached but one place in my life. I admire what she's been able to do. She's always been an ambassador for women's basketball, certainly passionate about promoting our game and going out and playing tough schedules. It's not like she's going to reach the 800 mark without playing some of the very best teams.

As a friend, are you rooting for her to win her first national championship?

It's unfortunate that coaches are sometimes judged on whether or not they've won championships, because there are great coaches who have never won championships. Vivian's been right there. I think it's going to happen for her.

Do you think winning one national title would be enough for her?

Vivian loves teaching and coaching, and she's passionate about it. She's so driven and so intent on the details. When she cuts down the nets, I don't see her saying, "Okay, I've done this, so I'm moving on." I see her saying, "Let's get the next recruiting class in and let's start getting better and focusing on daily improvement." That's how I see Vivian.

Could Vivian command respect coaching a men's program?

Wherever she goes, whatever she does, she's going to command respect. When she speaks, people are going to listen to her. She has proven herself. With the credentials and résumé she can put out there -- she's so visible and well-respected -- I don't think that would be an issue at all.

If anyone aspires to do that, I'd say go for it. I don't know how Vivian feels about it, but for me, I really feel like my calling was in the women's game. My passion's in the women's game, and that's the place where I can make the greatest difference. Because we're still growing the women's game. We're not where the men are. We don't have the sellout crowds. We don't have as much TV exposure. So I think that's an individual choice.

What personality trait do you admire the most about her?

She probably has more patience than I do. That's a good thing.

If I'm not happy, I'll say nobody's happy. Vivian's had some teams that started out and lost games early, but what do they do in the end? They're there. They win. And I would attribute that to her combination of patience and persistence.

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