Friday, September 27, 2013

Pat Summitt Attends Fundraiser for Her Foundation

Hundreds of family members, friends and fans gathered at the Charles Hand Family Farm to show their support for legendary Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summitt.

The second annual "Evening for Pat" raised money for the Pat Summitt Foundation. The event was organized by Oasis In-Home Care, Avalon Hospice and Walking Horse Meadows Assisted Living.

"We deal so much one on one with families who have members suffering from Alzheimer's," said Cindy Hancock, Director of Community Relations for Oasis In-Home Care. "It is huge for us to raise awareness to find a cure."

Participants enjoyed music, food, a silent auction, and the opportunity to see Coach Summitt. Throughout the night she shook countless hands, took photos and received plenty of hugs.

"It's been great," said Pat Summitt, Lady Vols Coach Emeritus. "There are so many people here, and that is really special."

Summitt was diagnosed with early on-set dementia in 2011. While she did step down from her head coaching position at the University of Tennessee, the Cheatham County Central High School grad hasn't slowed down.

"Pat has brought so much energy and excitement to this cause," said Adam Waller, Director of Community Relations at The Pat Summitt Foundation. "She has helped increase funding with the federal government, and donations at events like this."

The Pat Summitt Foundation was set up to make grants to nonprofits which provide education and awareness of Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment. The organization also provided support services to patients, their families and caregivers.

Last year's fundraiser for The Pat Summitt Foundation raised $8,000. This year organizers expected to raise more than $15,000.

"It just feels good to see all these people here helping the foundation," said Summitt. "I'm happy to be here."

For more information on The Pat Summitt Foundation, visit their Web site.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Catchings, Fever overwhelm Sky

Indiana advances to Eastern Conference finals to play either Atlanta or Washington

Sometimes, Indiana rookie guard Layshia Clarendon suddenly will remember that her down-to-earth, low-key, friendly teammate is actually a very big deal.

"I see the way people cheer for her, the way the other team reacts when they announce her name," Clarendon said. "And I think, 'Oh, my gosh, that's right. This is the Tamika Catchings, three-time gold medalist, awesome community leader.' They are those 'oh wow' moments. But she makes you feel like she's just another person."

Of course, Catchings isn't just another player. She is a future Hall of Famer, someone who is at least in the MVP discussion every WNBA season. And in the Fever's Eastern Conference first-round series victory over Chicago, Catchings displayed her usual relentlessness. She was the best player on the court.

Sorry, Sky, but you'll just have to chalk this one up to a hard lesson. Chicago finished first in the East, but had its season ended decisively by Catchings and the Fever, 79-57, Sunday. Catchings led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds, her 20th double-double in 49 career playoff games.

"She carries this team," Fever coach Lin Dunn said. "Often in her career, she's been overlooked, but she does so many things on both ends of the floor."

In some ways, though, it's less that Catchings is overlooked than she is taken for granted. But this year, with players such as center Jessica Davenport and guard/forward Katie Douglas out virtually all season with injuries, the Fever had to rely on Catchings as much as ever.

And the Tennessee graduate -- who turned 34 in July -- came through once again. Sunday was the Fever's largest margin of victory in a playoff game, and came two days after an 85-72 win Friday in Chicago. Catchings had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, plus – as always -- set the tone defensively in Game 1. There was no backing down from the Fever in Game 2; if anything, they were even more intense.

The Sky might have been the East's No. 1 seed and the Fever No. 4, but Indiana had won the regular-season series 3-1 and was appearing in the postseason for the 10th time. Meanwhile, this was Chicago's first playoff appearance, and it looked like it. The Sky were pretty much whipped in every facet of play.

Defending WNBA champion Indiana led by 20 at halftime, and it never seemed as if the Sky had a realistic chance to catch up. The Sky shot 29.8 percent (17 of 57), were outrebounded 38-30, and were outscored in the paint 34-24.

"I look at areas of play where we were basically dominated," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "In terms of the boards, second-chance [points], paint points -- and that can't happen. The result: 17 made field goals.

"We knew coming in it wouldn't be a different game plan from Indiana, because they had success before. So it was a matter of us connecting some of the dots, and being high-IQ basketball players, making reads and plays. It gets down to toughness -- loose balls, rebounds, deflections. I'm disappointed that we went out like this; I like this team; I understand the areas we need to grow."

To do that, no team could be a better example for the Sky to follow than Indiana. Let's certainly not forget that the Fever have taken their lumps and shed bitter tears of frustration over the years, too, at playoff disappointments since the franchise began in 2000.

Catchings, the No. 3 pick in the 2001 draft, couldn't play that season because of a torn ACL she suffered her senior season in college, but then she helped lead the Fever to the playoffs in her rookie-of-the-year season of 2002. But it would take a decade before the Fever won the WNBA title in 2012, which was their ninth appearance in the playoffs.

"The way we had the upper hand was experience," Dunn said of this series. "That's a very, very talented team [in Chicago]. Do not underestimate the value of experience -- we've won a championship, and we've been in the Finals before [in 2009]."

All true, but there's a lot of talent on this Indiana team, too. Guard Shavonte Zellous, a fifth-year pro, was given the league's most improved player award before the game, as she nearly doubled her season scoring average from 2012 (7.5 ppg to 14.7).

Zellous, who had team-high 20 points Friday, scored 10 Sunday. Erlana Larkins, who like Zellous was such a key player during the 2012 WNBA Finals, had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, plus held her own against Sylvia Fowles inside.

Fowles had 14 points and 14 rebounds, with Epiphanny Prince and 2013 rookie of the year Elena Delle Donne scoring 10 points each.

Indiana has just four available players off the bench, but got 23 points out of them, led by Clarendon's nine. The Fever shot 45.8 percent from the field Sunday, after a 50.8 percent performance on Friday. Very impressive, especially for a team known for its defense. Dunn joked that maybe the Fever were making so many shots because they spent so much time in practice playing defense that they really enjoyed shooting in the games.

Now the Fever await the winner of Monday's deciding Game 3 between No. 2 seed Atlanta and No. 3 Washington; either way, Indiana will travel for Thursday's first game of the East finals, since the Fever are the lowest seed.

But Indiana has played well from that position of late: This was the third series in a row, dating back to 2012, where Indiana won as the lower seed. The Fever beat East No. 1 Connecticut and West No. 1 Minnesota in last year's playoffs.

"We came into this series knowing Chicago had three really good players, and we had to defend at a high level," Zellous said. "And I think we did that. I think now our goal is to try to get back to the Finals. So whatever it takes."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

LA's Candace Parker wins WNBA MVP

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker has won the WNBA MVP, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Parker will receive the award Thursday night in Los Angeles before the Sparks play the Phoenix Mercury in the opener of their Western Conference playoff series. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.

Parker edged out Minnesota's Maya Moore and Chicago's Elena Delle Donne in one of the closest ballots in league history, the person told the AP. Parker finished with 234 points, Moore had 218 and Delle Donne 189. It's the closest the top two players have been in the voting since Sheryl Swoopes edged Lauren Jackson by two points in 2005.

Parker and Moore each received 10 first-place votes from the 39-member national media panel.

The 27-year-old Parker averaged 17.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists in helping the Sparks (24-10) finish second in the Western Conference.

It's the second MVP award for Parker, who won it her rookie year. Parker also won the All-Star game MVP this past July. She was runner-up to Tina Charles last season for the award.

Parker, who is still looking for her first WNBA championship, is the fifth player to earn multiple MVP awards, joining Jackson, Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Cynthia Cooper.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Taste of Turkey Creek events raises $10k for Pat Summitt Foundation

About 750 people got a chance to sample food from Knoxville-area restaurants Friday, as well as join in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

The Taste of Turkey Creek was a fund-raising event for the Pat Summitt Foundation.

A total of $10,000 was raised by attendees as they sampled food and drinks from 16 restaurants. There was also a silent auction and music performances.

Proceeds will be used by the Pat Summitt Foundation in efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer's, as well as for support services for families.

"I think it's actually making people aware, bringing people out, and allowing people to see that the Pat Summitt Foundation is making an impact," Ryan Collins said about the event.

The Pinnacle at Turkey Creek hosted the event. The Cole Neuroscience Center at The University of Tennessee Medical Center served as the presenting sponsor.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Annual Summitt fundraiser is Sept. 26

The second annual “Evening for Pat” — a fundraiser for the The Pat Summitt Foundation — will be held Sept. 26 from 5-7 p.m. at the Charles Hand Farm in Cedar Hill. Summitt, a 1970 graduate of Cheatham County Central High School, resigned in 2012 as the head women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee after being diagnosed with early on-set dementia a year earlier. Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 and includes dinner, dessert and drinks. Tickets are limited. The event will also feature an anticipated visit from Summitt, a silent auction and entertainment. For ticket information, call Alison Hurt with Avalon Hospice at 931-561-7915; Cindy Hancock of Oasis In-Home Care at 931-266-4441 or 270-839-2706; or Denise Rangel at 931-436-0979. The Charles Hand Farm is on Ross Road (located off Interstate 24, exit 19, Maxey Road). Summitt is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA men's or women's basketball with 1,098 victories. She led the Lady Vols to eight national championships, 18 NCAA Final Fours and a combined 32 SEC regular season and tournament titles during her 38-year career at Tennessee.

Pat Summitt Has Ankle Surgery

Quote from Pat: "Home recovering from ankle surgery. All went well! Will miss walks with the dogs for the next little bit. Motivated to get well soon!"

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Pat Summitt helps the New York Yankees launch Worldwide Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Before the start of the New York Yankees afternoon game against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the organization helped launch the Alzheimer's Association's "Worldwide Alzheimer's Awareness Month."

The Yankees were joined by Tennessee head coach emeritus Pat Summitt and her son Tyler — who received the 2012 Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award from the Alzheimer's Association for the work they've done with the Pat Summitt — in the pregame ceremony. Representatives from the Alzheimer Association were also on the field for the launch.

"My son, Tyler, and I want to thank the New York Yankees for stepping up in a big way to increase awareness and funding for the fight against Alzheimer's disease," Summit said in a statement on Friday. "We are honored to have been invited to stand with them and the Alzheimer's Association to launch this month-long public awareness effort."

Summitt won 1,098 games and eight national titles in her Hall of Fame tenure with the Volunteers. The 61-year-old coach was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and retired from coaching in April 2012.

The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Dodgers are the other six MLB franchises that are joining the Yankees in support of the cause.

Pat Summitt's statement:

"My son, Tyler, and I want to thank the New York Yankees for stepping up in a big way to increase awareness and funding for the fight against Alzheimer's disease," said Summitt, who is the NCAA's all-time winningest basketball coach for men's or women's programs. "We are honored to have been invited to stand with them and the Alzheimer's Association to launch this month-long public awareness effort."