Monday, May 27, 2013

Summitt Chosen for FIBA Hall

Pat Summitt headlines the 2013 FIBA Hall of Fame class.

Summitt, the all-time leader in victories in college basketball, won a silver medal as a player on the 1976 Olympic team and guided the U.S. to gold in 1984. She is one of only two American women to win a medal as both a player and head coach, joining Anne Donovan. Summitt also was the coach of the 1979 world championship team that won America's first gold medal at the event since 1957.

"Pat is a great personality who has experienced great success on and off the court, but who also stands out for the character she has shown and for the countless efforts she has made to help promote our sport," said FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann.

The induction ceremony will be June 19.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Semeka Randall named new Alabama A&M women's basketball coach

An hour before being introduced as the new women's basketball coach at Alabama A&M, Semeka Randall huddled with several of the team's returning players.

"She told us she was going to throw things at us we've never seen before," guard Brittney Strickland said. "She said as long as we keep an open mind, it'll work."

More than what she said, it was Randall heard that may be most important.

"I don't think I spoke as much as I listened," she said. "They were very vocal, informing me about campus and what I needed to know. It was a breath of fresh air. There was an eagerness there."

Randall, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, had been head coach at Ohio University for five seasons, but was fired March 11. She had a record of 50-103, 22-58 in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats were 6-23 last season in what was essentially a lame-duck year after her five-year contract was not given an extension prior to the season.

She had been an assistant coach at Cleveland State (2002-03), Michigan State (2004-07) and West Virginia (2007-08) before taking the Ohio job.

Randall was a two-time All-America at Tennessee under the legendary Pat Summitt and was a member of the Lady Vols' undefeated 1998 national championship team, arguably one of the best teams in women's college history. Or, as Randall will attest, "the best team ever."

Of her decision to go to Tennessee, "Pat recruited me since I was in the eighth grade." Had she not gone to UT, Randall said she'd have signed with UConn. "Either way, I'd have played for two intense people."

She was the 17th pick of the WNBA draft in 2001 and played in the league through the 2004 season.

As for what she'll throw at her players, the Lady Bulldogs will be playing a more aggressive defense, Randall promised.

Alabama A&M has played an ambitious non-conference schedule under her predecessor, Altherias Warmley, who was fired a month ago after 11 seasons on the job. Randall was non-committal about the schedule but noted several vacancies remain.

In a press conference also attended by A&M athletic department staff and a smattering of fans, director of athletics Bryan Hicks called it "an exciting day for Lady Bulldog fans" and called Randall "an outstanding coach (and) is even a better person. She has handled the highest level of success on the brightest stage -- NCAA champion, All-American, professional athlete -- with dignity."

Randall said "I believe I have a story to tell and share with the young women. ... I'm here to build a winning tradition. It's going to take time. It's going to take hard work. Our program will be run in a first-class manner. We will maintain compliance with the NCAA rules. Our student-athletes will have a great experience and we will enjoy this ride."

Kara Lawson Receives Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award

Kara Lawson of the Connecticut Sun is the recipient of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding work in the community in 2012, the WNBA announced today. The award recognizes the player whose outreach inspires the community and reflects Staley’s leadership, spirit, charitable efforts, and love for the game.

Lawson was previously recognized for her achievements on and off the court with the 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

“Kara Lawson has represented the WNBA admirably and has done a phenomenal job in elevating its name over the course of her career,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “As evidenced by her efforts on behalf of the Pat Summitt Foundation, Kara is an ambassador and leader for all levels of basketball as well as a role model to girls and women everywhere.”

During the 2012 season, Lawson donated $50 for each three-pointer made to the Pat Summitt Foundation in honor of her collegiate coach. Summitt was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Lawson, however, inspired by her former coach wanted to do more than donate money; she immersed herself in a cause with the goal of inspiring others. Summitt, the legendary coaching figure who guided the Tennessee women’s basketball program to 1,098 wins and eight national championships, announced she was stepping down from the Lady Vols in April of 2012.

The Pat Summitt Foundation seeks to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s, its causes and help work towards a cure. For 2012, Lawson finished the season with a team-record 74 3-pointers, and her donation was matched by the Connecticut Sun Foundation, the Mohegan Tribe as well as others and fan donations. In total, the three-point campaign raised $32,000. In January of 2013, Lawson was named an honorary co-chair of the Pat Summitt Foundation Advisory Board.

"It’s an honor to pay tribute to Kara Lawson with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership award,” said WNBA Legend and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “Her work with the Pat Summitt Foundation shows her commitment to making a lasting difference around the nation about Alzheimer's. Her spirit of compassion has inspired others to get involved in finding a cure for Alzheimer's and honor an icon in sports."

The Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award is presented annually. Each WNBA team nominated one player and a designated committee selected Lawson as the winner. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Pat Summitt Foundation on behalf of Lawson.

"I'm thrilled to receive the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award. My relationship with Dawn goes back over 20 years,” said Kara Lawson. “She was the first female basketball player I looked up to and tried to model myself after. She left an indelible impression on the women's game. I've always felt that being mentioned in the same breath as Dawn meant you were doing things the right way. My goal has always been to have a positive impact in my community. In my role with the Pat Summitt Foundation, I have the opportunity to work with a passionate group dedicated to end Alzheimer's. Thank you to Dawn and the WNBA for this prestigious award."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tennessee to honor Pat Summitt with statue

Legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt spent a brisk Monday morning greeting golfers and sharing laughs before her charity golf tournament got under way at the Cherokee Country Club.

“You sure you want a picture with me?” she joked to one group of golfers.

Summitt was all smiles for the charity event, but when her statue is unveiled later this year, it might be more likely to feature her trademark icy stare.

Tennessee plans to unveil a statue of Summitt as early as this fall as part of the renovated streetscape on Lake Loudon Boulevard near the university’s athletic facilities.

Summitt, who officially stepped down from full-time coaching and assumed the title of head coach emeritus last year, has already been honored with a statue at UT Martin, her alma mater.

Soon she’ll have a second statue in Knoxville.

“It’s a very important component of the larger Lake Loudon project,” Dave Hart said. “There’s a natural embankment by Thompson-Boling Arena, and we’re working with architects to find the best place for the statue.”

Hart said the timing of the project is still uncertain, but he hopes it can be completed soon.

“We’re hopeful that by fall the entire project will be completed. I can’t say for certain that the statue will be there by then, but it will be obvious where the plaza and the statue will go,” he said.

Hart said the decision to honor Summitt was a no-brainer.

“It’s very exciting to be able to present this to the greatest coach of all time,” he said.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

14 Lady Vols on WNBA preseason rosters

The first preseason contest of the WNBA’s 17th season tips off Thursday night, and 14 University of Tennessee graduates currently are listed on team rosters around the league.

There are 12 teams in the WNBA, and there is at least one Lady Vol playing for eight of them. The only teams that don’t currently have a UT player on the roster are Atlanta, Chicago, Minnesota and San Antonio.

Kamiko Williams, the No. 15 pick in the recent WNBA Draft, has embarked on her professional career with the New York Liberty. The 5-11 product of Clarksville, Tenn. (Northeast H.S.) joins former UT standouts Kelley Cain and Loree Moore in the Big Apple under the direction of head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer. The former NBA star is in his first year in New York but guided the Detroit Shock to WNBA titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008.

Williams averaged 7.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while helping lead the Lady Vols to the 2013 SEC regular season championship and a berth in the NCAA Elite 8. She made the All-Oklahoma City Regional Team because of her play in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games.

Tamika Catchings, 2012 WNBA Finals MVP, begins her 12th season with the defending WNBA champion Indiana Fever. She is joined on the roster by Shyra Ely-Gash, who missed the 2012 season due to injury. Former Lady Vol assistant Mickie DeMoss is back for her second year on the coaching staff, which is led by Lin Dunn, who earned her master’s degree at Tennessee after attending UT-Martin as an undergrad.

All-WNBA First-Teamer Candace Parker leads Los Angeles into the 2013 campaign, her sixth with the Sparks. Nicky Anosike is once again on the L.A. roster as she enters her sixth season in the league.

Kara Lawson, recipient of the WNBA’s 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, begins her 11th season in the league and is in her third with the Connecticut Sun. Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Alexis Hornbuckle is onboard for her second year with the Mercury and sixth season overall in the league as No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner makes her pro debut with the squad.

Glory Johnson and Vicki Baugh are back in Tulsa, where draft pick Skylar Diggins added an immediate buzz to the squad. Johnson made the 2012 WNBA All-Rookie Team a year ago, while Baugh was released on May 13 after an injury limited her availability. After sitting out the season, Baugh still is considered a rookie.

In Seattle, Shekinna Stricklen returns for her second year with the Storm. Former Lady Vol assistant Nancy Darsch continues to serve in the same role for the Storm.

Shannon Bobbitt and Michelle Snow are listed on the roster of the Washington Mystics after spending the 2012 season there. Snow is in her 12th year in the WNBA, while Bobbitt is enjoying her fifth season.

The WNBA will open its 17th regular season as part of WNBA Tip-Off 2013 presented by Boost Mobile on Friday, May 24, when Catchings leads the Fever into San Antonio to face the Silver Stars. WNBA Tip-Off 2013 presented by Boost Mobile will feature a total of six games including a nationally televised doubleheader on ESPN2 on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, featuring the Mystics at the Shock (3 p.m. ET) followed by the Sky at the Mercury (5 p.m. ET).

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Tyler Summitt interviews for Chattanooga opening

Tyler Summitt has emerged as a candidate to fill the women’s basketball head coaching vacancy at Chattanooga.

The Marquette assistant coach, the son of Tennessee women’s head coach emeritus Pat Summitt, interviewed for the job on Saturday, said a source familiar with the process. The source requested anonymity because the interview hasn’t been made public.

Summitt interviewed with David Blackburn, who was named Chattanooga’s athletics director last month. He came to the school from Tennessee, where he was a senior associate athletics director. Blackburn has coaching openings to fill in both men’s and women’s basketball.

The Lady Mocs’ job opened early last month when Wes Moore left after 15 seasons to become the head coach at North Carolina State. Chattanooga tied a program record with 29 wins last season, including an 80-71 season-opening victory over UT. The Lady Mocs swept the Southern Conference regular season and conference tournament championships before losing to Nebraska in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The timetable for filling the Lady Mocs opening is not known.

Summitt, a Tennessee graduate, just completed his first season on Marquette’s staff. He interviewed for a coaching opening last month at Coastal Carolina. The job eventually went to Wake Forest assistant Jaida Williams.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Pat Summitt extends contract with Lady Vols another year

The University of Tennessee announced Wednesday that Pat Summitt has extended her contract for a year, and will continue working with the Lady Vols as head coach emeritus.

The 2013-2014 season will be her 40th with the women's basketball program. She served as head coach for 38 seasons and led the team to 1,098 victories.

UT working on new deal for Summitt

While Pat Summitt’s one-year deal with the University of Tennessee concludes on Tuesday, her tenure as head coach emeritus for the women’s basketball program will continue at least for another year.

Negotiations between the university and the Lady Vols coaching legend are ongoing on a new one-year deal. UT spokesperson Jimmy Stanton said Tuesday afternoon that final details were being worked out on the contract.

Summitt stepped into her new role last April after stepping down as the Lady Vols coach after 38 seasons. She completed her final season after announcing in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.