Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summitt becomes an honorary girl scout

Pat Summitt is many things: mother, coach, legend, representative of the State of Tennessee.

But until Tuesday, she'd never been a girl scout.

That all changed when the Tanasi Girl Scout Council made Summitt an honorary scout at its Women of Achievement Gala, held at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Assistant coach Holly Warlick, who was a girl scout as a young girl, bestowed the honorary sash upon Summitt, who also spoke to the group of supporters. Summitt challenged the donors to show as much commitment in their giving as she asked her team to show on the basketball court.

"I think it's so important that we give back tonight, because that's how we can all make a small difference," Summitt said. "Hopefully when we all come together, we'll make a very large difference."

The supporters were also treated to a rousing speech by former girl scout Jennifer Wilson, who reached the highest level of scouting and is graduating from The University of Tennessee this spring and headed to graduate school, with the goal of working in higher education administration.

Wilson encouraged the supporters to contribute by showing a news story by Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy. The story highlight the efforts of a Dandridge girl scout troop, which raised enough money selling cookies to open a food pantry.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Geno takes shot at UT. So what?!?

Geno Auriemma sure knows how to stir up Tennessee Lady Vol fans. Auriemma is the head coach of the UConn women's basketball team, and recently "took a shot" at The University of Tennessee.

UConn just completed a perfect season, 39-0, and claimed its sixth national championship. During a celebration parade, Auriemma said “The one thing that we get a kick out of, all of us, is that whenever we have these parades, the doctor’s offices in Tennessee are filled with people who get sick.” And boy, the Big Orange has hit the fan.

Sports message boards are filled with numerous fan responses, comments like " NO CLASS!!" and "classless jerk" or "This guy has a "little man's complex." While those responses may be accurate descriptions of the man (you decide), it doesn't change the fact that I AGREE with Geno! I'll be the first to admit that running the table and finishing 39-0 is one heck of an accomplishment. As a Lady Vol fan though, it DOES make me sick. Anytime the biggest rival of your favorite team wins it all, it SHOULD make you cringe.

Here is what everyone seems to be missing. Look beyond Auriemma's comment and consider that even during a championship celebration, the Lady Vols were still on Geno's mind! Thank you for the compliment! Thank you for understanding that even though your team finished the season at number one, UConn's women's basketball program is still second (in many ways) to the Lady Vols.

Do you really think when the Lady Vols win their next championship, Pat Summitt will have a reference to UConn during the celebration?!? Neither do I.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Report: NC State hires Harper

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina State has chosen Western Carolina's Kellie Harper to replace Hall of Famer Kay Yow as the Wolfpack's women's basketball coach, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The search committee will forward Harper's name to the university's board of trustees for approval at its meeting later this week. The person spoke on condition on anonymity because an official announcement had not yet been made, though the school has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon to announce the hiring of a new coach.

Harper has spent the past five seasons at Western Carolina, compiling a 97-65 record while leading the Catamounts to two NCAA tournament bids and a pair of Southern Conference championships. Harper also played under Pat Summitt as part of Tennessee's three straight national championship teams from 1996-98.

This year, Harper led Western Carolina -- located about 300 miles west of the Raleigh campus in the North Carolina mountains -- to a 21-12 record and an appearance in the first round of the NCAAs.

While NC State has long been one of the more successful programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it slid in recent years while nearby rivals Duke and North Carolina became annual fixtures among the nation's elite. The decision to hire Harper, who turns 32 on May 3, apparently signals that athletic director Lee Fowler was ready for a fresh start for a program defined by Yow's success on the court for the past three decades and her courage in fighting cancer away from it.

Harper will become just the third coach in team history. Robert "Peanut" Doak spent one season as coach in 1974-75 before Yow's arrival.

The decision will be a sensitive one for many surrounding the program. Yow, who died in January after a long fight against the disease, had hoped that the school would designate longtime assistant Stephanie Glance as her successor, but Fowler said the school had to conduct a thorough search for a replacement.

Glance served as the interim coach when Yow took leave from the team in January, guiding the team to a 13-17 record and keeping the players together through an emotionally wrenching stretch that included Yow's funeral, burial and a campus tribute ceremony during the heart of the ACC season. She also guided the Wolfpack when Yow was forced to step away for health reasons during the 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons.

Glance, an assistant to Yow for 15 seasons, interviewed with Fowler for several hours in late March. She did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.

Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 but coached the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal the next year. She was 737-344 in 38 seasons as a coach -- 34 with the Wolfpack and four with Elon -- and won four ACC tournament titles, earned 20 NCAA tournament bids and reached the Final Four in 1998 at NC State.

She was also inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002, while the school dedicated "Kay Yow Court" in Reynolds Coliseum in 2007.

But for many fans, Yow was best defined by her unwavering resolve while fighting cancer after it first recurred during the 2004-05 season. She raised awareness and money for research and stayed with her team through the debilitating effects of the disease and chemotherapy treatments.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Summitt honored in St. Louis with RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA Victory Club Award

ST. LOUIS, MO--- University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball coach Pat Summitt was honored today for her 1,000th career coaching victory at the RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA National Coach of the Year Award Ceremony at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront Grand Ballroom, St. Louis, Mo.

This event is part of the WBCA National Convention, held in conjunction with the NCAA® Women's Final Four®.

The RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA Victory Club Award is presented to each WBCA-member head coach who achieves career wins of 200, 300, 400, 500 or more, in 100 victory increments on both the collegiate and high school levels.

Summitt picked up her 1,000th coaching win on Feb. 5, 2009, with a 73-43 win over the Georgia Lady Bulldogs in Knoxville. Georgia coach Andy Landers was also honored today with 800 coaching wins. Summitt recently concluded her 35th season at the helm of the Lady Vols with 1,005 victories.

“Whether Russell Athletic is supporting the WBCA or developing the newest, innovative women’s team uniform, our company remains steadfast in its’ commitment to women’s sports," said Catherine Gammon, Sr. Director of Sponsorships, Russell Athletic. “Russell Athletic is proud to honor the WBCA Victory Club award winners. The dedication of these coaches continues to make a difference in the lives of young student-athletes."

In addition to Summitt, a number of accomplished coaches were honored as well.

2009 RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA Victory Club Award Recipients (500-1,000 wins):

Name School Victory # Victory Date

Pat Summitt Univ. of Tennessee 1000 2/5/2009

Sylvia Hatchell Univ. of North Carolina 800 1/11/2009

Andy Landers Univ. of Georgia 800 1/15/2009

Richard Lauer Christway Academy 800 1/16/2009

Robin Selvig Univ. of Montana 700 11/26/2008

Mike Strong Univ. of Scranton 700 1/25/2009

Colby Tilley Kennesaw State 700 1/22/2009

Gywn Young Copiah-Lincoln CC 700 12/13/2008

Lonnie Kruse Sterling College 600 1/24/2009

Dave Stricklin Umpqua CC 600 1/7/2009

Andy Yosinoff Emmanuel College 600 12/9/2008

Mike Durbin College of St. Benedict 500 12/10/2008

Debbie Jackson Nimitz Senior H.S. 500 2/6/2009

Doug Lechtenberger John Foster Dulles HS 500 2/5/2008

Connie Tilley St. Norbert College 500 1/28/2009

Glenn Wilkes, Jr. Rollins College 500 1/10/2009

Ann Lee Williams Minnesota State C&T 500 1/17/2009

Nancy Wilson College of Charleston 500 2/16/2009

*38 coaches other coaches were honored for wins 200-400. Some of the 2008 victories did not get recognized last year and were carried over to this year’s list.

Summitt recipient of WNBA award

Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt on Tuesday was named the recipient of the WNBA Inspiring Coach Award and will be honored at a later date during the league's upcoming season.

The award was given to Summitt in recognition of her profound impact on female athletes and her demonstrated commitment, passion and dedication to work, family and community, the league said in a statement.

The WNBA introduced the award in 2007 to honor coaches who have positively influenced athletes in various capacities and whose achievements leave an indelible mark on sports as a whole.

"We are absolutely thrilled to honor Pat Summitt for all of her professional accomplishments," WNBA president Donna Orender said in the statement. "On the court, she is an extraordinary coach who has won eight NCAA championships and now holds the all-time record for most wins in NCAA history.

"But what is more important is that she leads with her heart and soul. Her commitment and dedication to the development of women's sports and her passion for inspiring young athletes to achieve their dreams has been a source of inspiration to us all."

Pat buys Geno's tie

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt outbid others to purchase one of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma's ties for $1,000 at a Friday auction to benefit the Kay Yow cancer research fund.

"She's going home and put voodoo pins in it," joked Auriemma, playing on their testy relationship.

During the bidding, host Debbie Antonelli showed pictures she had had taken of prominent players and coaches with the tie. When a shot of Summitt holding the tie while Tennessee assistant Holly Warlick swung at it with a baseball bat was shown, Auriemma commented from the stage: "That's probably the only thing they hit all year."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Lady Vols Shekinna Stricklen named U.S. Basketball Writers Association Freshman of the Year

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) named Tennessee freshman cager Shekinna Stricklen its national Freshman of the Year on Wednesday. Stricklen becomes the first Lady Vol to earn the prestigious honor from the USBWA.

Stricklen started in all 32 games she played in as a rookie and led the Lady Vols with 13.3 ppg, 3.0 apg and was second on the team with 5.9 rpg this season. Stricklen, along with classmate Glory Johnson, became the 11th and 12th Lady Vols to start their first career game in the Orange and White.

“I am very excited and honored to have been named the Freshman of the Year,” said Stricklen. “I want to thank my teammates and coaches for pushing me every day to be the best I could be. Without them, I could not have achieved such an incredible award.

“I am extremely blessed to be able to play basketball at Tennessee, as it has always been my dream,” commented Stricklen. “There are so many great players in women’s collegiate hoops that this is truly a special honor.”

Stricklen was selected to the Second Team All-Southeastern Conference and was a unanimous selection to the All-SEC Freshman Team. The Morrilton, Ark., native scored in double-digits 21 times, including four games in which she scored at least 20 points. Stricklen twice earned SEC Freshman of the Week. The first league accolade came after she led Tennessee past No. 3/4-ranked Stanford with 25 points, including eight of UT’s 11 overtime points. Stricklen was again honored by the conference after averaging 14 points and 8.5 rebounds in a pair of road wins over Gonzaga and No. 15/14-ranked Rutgers. Against the Scarlet Knights, she scored 13 of her team-high 16 points and grabbed six of her game-high 11 rebounds in the second half to lead a 23-point comeback victory.

“I am truly excited for Shekinna as she is very deserving of being named the USBWA Freshman of the Year,” said Head Coach Pat Summitt. “She works incredibly hard every day and her development through the year was excellent. I cannot imagine us not having her this season as her offensive skill set was incredibly important to our success.

“She is determined to get better and I am very glad we have her at Tennessee,” added Summitt.