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Archive for April, 2012

“Granny’s Got Game” gets Mechelle’s attention.

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Congrats to mom-to-be Tiffany Jackson Jones.

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A memory of Summitt’s No. 8

Note: Today, April 18, coach Pat Summitt moved into a new role at Tennessee – as head coach emeritus. She finishes with 1,098 victories, 18 trips to the NCAA Final Four, and eight NCAA titles. Here is a story I wrote for ESPN.com in 2008 after Summitt’s last championship game.

TAMPA, Fla. _ Remember the old “Schoolhouse Rock” tune?

“Figure eight as double four,
Figure four as half of eight,
If you skate, you would be great
If you could make a figure eight.”

Tennessee’s Pat Summitt has made a figure eight now as a basketball coach, but she’s never “skated” a day in her life. That got reinforced from her earliest consciousness, by parents she called “the hardest-working people I’ve ever known.”

The apple, as they say, didn’t fall far from the tree. Summitt – whose program now has eight NCAA titles after its 64-48 victory over Stanford on Tuesday _ is a long way from the farm girl who wondered if she’d ever measure up to her father’s unyielding standards.

Six of one for Team USA

I will say that at some point, folks really do need to trust that the committee/USA Basketball wants to do everything possible to win gold in London, and that that’s the bottom line for them. Not catering to Auriemma’s alumni party, as the critics will call it. Furthermore, Auriemma himself wants to do everything possible to win gold. He doesn’t want the United State’s Olympic winning streak – which dates back to the 1992 bronze-medal game in Barcelona – to end on his watch.

And while you could dub Team USA “Team UConn” for the Olympics, you could also name it the No. 1 Collection: seven of the players have been the top pick in the WNBA draft: Bird (’02), Taurasi (’04),  Seimone Augustus (’06), Parker (’08), Angel McCoughtry (’09), Charles (’10) and Moore (’11).

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Or as “put” as any coach stays these days…

Cindy Fisher Receives Multi-Year Contract Extension

On the “not staying put” of coaches (What is it with these “Sources.” Does this mean wbball has hit the big time rumor mill?)

Source: KSU hires Perry as coach

Source: Kansas assistant Tory Verdi expected to be named EMU women’s coach

From Nate: The Significance of Michigan Hiring Kim Barnes Arico To Awaken A “Sleeping Giant”

Bibbs announced taking the position as head coach at Grambling State University

Source: ORU women’s basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner to accept Utah State job (WHB readers will recall Oral Roberts was makin’ some noise this year.)

On the “staying put?” of players:

Girls basketball: Oral Roberts news affects Shawnee’s Taylor Cooper

On the “not staying put” of players

Former Great Oak star Sherbert leaving Cal

FGCU notes: Strong shooter Rechis transfers from team

Women’s hoops player leaving ODU for Hampton

Jenni Bryan among three players leaving OSU

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Guru’s Potpourri: New York WNBA Lotto Bound? Ivies Consider Playoffs

If Patrick Henry, one of the famed patriots of the American Revolution, were alive today and happened to be a WNBA fan of the team in New York that will still be playing in New Jersey two more seasons, his expectation for the months ahead might be summed up by re-editing his famed speech of yesteryear by proclaiming instead, “Give me Liberty and give me the lotto.”

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Morning Links: Recapping Barnes Arico’s Introductory Press Conference In Michigan

As a University of Michigan alum, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days struggling to even process the hiring of Kim Barnes Arico as head coach of the Wolverines women’s basketball team.

As a fan, it’s still hard to even put coherent words around it. As a women’s basketball blogger, I can say this: beware the sleeping giant in Ann Arbor.

Or, hm, maybe I got that backwards.

Well, whatever – back to processing for me, but thankfully other people have already summarized Barnes Arico’s introductory press conference in Ann Arbor that took place yesterday. In short, she “won” that press conference, but the details follow.

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Asjha Jones

“It’s an honor,” said Jones. “My mom, everyone in my family is so excited for me. I think it’s exciting how people respond to you when you tell them. A lot of people want to cry. Just to see the way people react to the news is really special. I’m really exited. I’m so excited to be a part of this.

Add on: From Mechelle: Why did Jones addition happen now?

Now, before anyone starts grumbling about this being a case of the college-connection version of nepotism, remember that Auriemma doesn’t pick the team. He has input, but a committee makes the decisions about who fills the Team USA roster. National team director Carol Callan heads up the committee; the other members are five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, San Antonio Silver Stars coach/GM Dan Hughes, Indiana Fever GM/CEO Kelly Krauskopf and WNBA executive Renee Brown.

Additional add on/flashback from AP Doug: US women’s Olympic team soon to be unveiled

One of the hardest tasks for any coach is cutting players.

It’s even more difficult when many of the players involved have helped you reach the pinnacle of your profession.

Fortunately for U.S. women’s national basketball coach Geno Auriemma, those decisions are made by a five-member selection committee. Sure the UConn coach gives a lot of input on whom he would like on the Olympic team, but the committee has the final say.

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OT: So this is what birders do

They take lunch breaks in nearby parks, for instance Bryant Park, which is smack dab in the middle of Manhattan around the main NYC Library (of the lions).

And then they see a rare warbler — rare in general, and particularly rare in NYC ’cause it’s a southern-ish bird, and (as far as we can tell) never spotted in Bryant Park.

So, said birder races back to his office and sends out an email to the yahoo birding group.

Then, a women’s hoops blogger reads her email while at work (shocking, I know) and sees said email. Suddenly, that trip to Staples seems VERY important. She hops on the subway, goes one stop up to the Park and looks around. Nothing. She sees a woman with binoculars. “Yes, I saw it,” says the woman, “but it flew over to the other side of the park and I didn’t follow it.”

Undaunted, our intrepid blogger traverses the park, pausing to scan the trees. 15 minutes later, BINGO! She spots a prothonotary warbler flitting about.

Better still, a friend fellow-birder shows up, and she’s able to share the sighting. Moments later, four other birders show up and we bellow, “BIRDERS!” They come galloping over and they, too, get to see the bird.

Nice moment on a gray Monday.

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Lots of coaching exits and entrances — so many the WBCA hasn’t been able to keep up.

Seems to me the Big 10 is pushing itself to be…. well, “big” and the Big East is wondering “wha’ happen?” Any chance Hartford’s Jen Rizzotti would consider a move down to Queens? Other questions are: who wants to move where and, more importantly, what kind of institutional support *cough* Providence *cough Georgetown * cough* is there?

Speaking of coach Kim: Leaving St. John’s ‘100 times harder’ than new Michigan women’s basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico imagined

The Statesman does a Q&A with new Horns coach Karen Aston

Do you understand the pressure of winning here?

I get the thing about expectations. I really do. But that’s not the reason I coach. I coach for the same reason Jody (Conradt) coached: I want to help the players get better. If for some reason I don’t do the job I’m expected to do — and I don’t think that will happen — it’s still my job to help young people grow.

It’ll be intriguing to follow Aston. Some Texas fans are concerned about the small pool of coaches contacted, not to mention that tapping back in to the Jody-pool feels like going backwards, not forward. And you might not be too impressed with Aston’s lack of “big time cred.” Of course, no one thought much of Kim (Adelphi?!?) when she stepped in at St. John’s, and looked what happened.

Swish Appeal does a little catching up: Barnes Arico & Other Coaching News

Some random stuff:

From the LA Times’ Ben Bolch: Violet Palmer is just another NBA official and that’s a good thing

In 1997, Palmer and Dee Kantner became the first female referees to work in a major U.S. professional sport. Palmer is still here and has been assigned to the playoffs six straight years.

She has become every bit as much a fixture in the playoffs as Kobe Bryant, Marv Albert’s signature “Yesss!” call and a first-round flameout by the Portland Trail Blazers.

From the AP’s Teresa Walker: Warlick’s UT challenge: meeting Summitt’s standard

Holly Warlick has her work cut out for her as Tennessee’s new women’s basketball coach.

She is replacing Pat Summitt, which has been compared to following Dean Smith at North Carolina, John Wooden at UCLA or Bear Bryant at Alabama.

Warlick, however, says she’s simply taking over a program she’s very familiar with for her close friend.

And just like Summitt, Warlick welcomes a challenge.

From Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports: Pat Summitt’s wild ride

From Sally Jenkins at WaPo: Pat Summitt is still much more able than disabled

Let me make something clear: Pat Summitt’s dignity is unassailable. And thus far, so is her basic good health and fundamental acuity. It’s fair to say that the stigma of the diagnosis has been harder on Summitt than the actual effects of the disease. Ask her if she feels sick, and she says sharply, “No.” What’s more difficult is being treated as if she is sick, as if she can no longer have a valuable purpose, as if it’s necessary to talk around her instead of to her, as if she doesn’t know her own mind.

“Everybody wants to know how I’m doing,” she says, “but they forget to ask me.”

From Mechelle: Summitt always larger than life

Now that a very, very different conclusion to Summitt’s coaching career has come, we can’t quite believe it. We don’t want to. Because among the many things that Summitt gave women’s basketball, one of the most cherished — at least by me — was unassailable legitimacy. The person who never big-timed anybody was undeniably big-time even in the most macho corners of the sports world.

When Summitt walked into a room of reporters, everyone sat up a little straighter. I loved watching that. Even the curmudgeons who thought they were above covering this sport had respect for her. She had a presence that everyone felt, almost like her own personal force field that protected her integrity and status at all times. The biggest critics in my business didn’t dismiss Summitt, nor did they even seem to want to. She was so much bigger than any of their prejudices.

From Erin Bolen at the Springfield News Leader: Summitt’s influence felt by local coaches

When Shelly Jones went to visit Kickapoo High School girls’ basketball coach Stephanie Phillips a few months before Phillips lost her battle with colon cancer, Phillips couldn’t wait to tell her what had happened that day.

“She said, ‘You won’t believe who I talked to today,’” said Jones, a former Drury University assistant who was recently named girls’ basketball coach at Marshfield. “I said, ‘Who?’ And she said ‘Pat Summitt.’”

From Dan Felser at the Knoxville News: Lady Vols thankful for easy transition

From Dave Fairbank at the Daily Press (VA): Women’s basketball recruiting a complicated, evolving issue

Geno Auriemma remembers when he could call recruits all the time or watch a prospect in person four or five days a week. Believe it or not, he misses those days.

Even with seven national championships, 800 wins and the visibility that accompanies his position as one of the giant figures in women’s basketball, the University of Connecticut and U.S. Olympic team coach thinks that shoe leather and extra miles and conversations over the phone and face-to-face remain the best avenues to properly evaluate and recruit players.

Auriemma is troubled by the shrinking evaluation and recruiting calendar in women’s basketball, even though he and other Bigfoot programs are the primary beneficiaries.

***

But Auriemma said that many wounds caused by the current system are self-inflicted.

“Every time a new rule is enacted, it’s because coaches voted on it and that’s the rule they want,” he said. “Coaches may complain that they want more days in July. But the reality is that when the surveys go out, the majority of the coaches vote for not adding any days in July because they don’t want to be out recruiting.

Some random thoughts on the above:

Recruiting, in light of the recent issues at Baylor, is a hot topic for many reasons. I’ve heard some argue that the NCAA should have no limits on contact between colleges, players & parents (and, of course, their AAU coaches, since high school coaches are marginalized more and more –it’s an ongoing tension). They argue that any player or parent or AAU/HS can say, “back off, enough.” I’m thinking that it’s a rare high school kid who would have the chutzpah to say “Mr. Auriemma? Ms. Mulkey? Ms. VanDeerver? Would you please stop contacting me and saying you want me to play for your school?”

Additionally, you’ve got to wonder how these rules and regulations impact every player BELOW the Top 50 DI.  Landing a Top 50 recruit is what’s newsworthy – and those ranking organizations are often linked to AAU programs that have an investment in saying, “my kid got recruited by *fillintheblank* university so your kid should play for my club if they want a fighting chance.” That’s not bad or good — that’s just a marketing reality. So those organizations have a vested interest in the Top 50 or 100 recruits. So who’s keeping up with the under-50s? With the DII and DIII student-athletes?

After the news of Baylor’s violations broke, Brad Wolverton at the Chronicle of Higher Ed asked: How Clean Is Women’s Hoops? Listen to the Players, referring to a 2010 NCAA survey that said “More than a third of the Division I players surveyed said they had been contacted too often during the recruiting process, and just 39 percent of players—the lowest percentage across all sports—said they “strongly agreed” that they could trust their coach.” *Dabnabbit! Another reason I may have to upgrade my ‘puter, the NCAA survey is in .doc-bloody-x so I can’t go back and review it.*

Since I can’t review the document, I can only wonder:

1) Did 2/3 of the players “feel” they were contacted too often, or were they actually “in violation” contacted to often. Either way, the follow up question is, “Did you say something to the coach and/or report them? If so, what was the reaction/response.” If not, why not? (Or, how about, do you and your parents and coaches know what the contact rules are?)

2) Trust. 39% “strongly agreed they could trust their coach.” What is the rest of the breakdown and what were the areas of “trust?”  For instance, “I trust that my coach will treat me fairly when it comes to playing time” is different than, “I trust that the coaches will abide by the NCAA regulations.”

This goes beyond the question of players actually knowing what the recruiting/practice rules are. It’s about power. The power to speak up, the power enjoy by being wanted, the power of promises and potential, the power of name recognition. And that leads to the power of the top 25. Because, face it, when people bemoan the “state of college sports,” they’re rarely talking about women’s basketball, and they’re surely not talking about fencing, or wrestling or cross country. They’re talking about men’s basketball and men’s football.

I know it’s all the rage but I’m not sure I’m interested in getting into a discussion about whether student-athletes (read: male, football/basketball) should or shouldn’t be forced to stay in college for their four years of eligibility (even though colleges work on a year-to-year scholarship system). If some brilliant scientist-sophomore-on-scholarship got offered a job by, say, Dow Chemicals, would you force them to complete their four years? Many of the players in the Top 25 (men’s football/basketball, itty bit of women’s basketball) are using college as their internship-interview for their professional life in sports (witness the Kentucky men’s team).  The college is a farm system the pros don’t have to fund. I guess it could be argued that how much “responsibility” a school should feel for the success or failure of an elite athlete (read: in football, men’s basketball) in their given profession should be measure the same way they measure the success of, say, their lawyers or doctors or teachers: did they get a job? were they prepared for the job? did they have the skills necessary to perform and excel in their job?

As for paying student athletes, whoa is that a slippery, swampy mess. Let’s not talk about the legal ramifications (Hello, congress!), or the not-Division I Top 25 BCS football/men’s basketball ramifications (remember Pennington’s series back in 2008: Expectations Lose to Reality of Sports Scholarships), or the “let’s really take a look at the cost effectiveness of college athletics across the board” discussion. I certainly haven’t heard anyone discuss the poverty level living status of non-athletic scholarship students, or the fact that partial scholarships in the “non-revenue” sports are still par for the course.

The NCAA keeps reminding us that “There are over 300,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most of them will go pro in something other than sports.” The reason those student-athletes are going pro in something other than sports is because it’s a limited profession that gets a disproportionate amount of attention of the public’s attention (and yes, I’m guilty — I’ve spent hundreds of hours writing and blogging about women’s basketball — a fraction of that on my own profession: education). But, as the situation at Kean shows (NCAA drops hammer on Kean University women’s basketball, warns athletic department of more penalties to come), lack of ethics crosses Divisions.

So what’s the answer? Hell if I know — but this is what happens to my brain on a rainy Sunday morning when the spring migration is slow…. honestly, this is a discussion best suited for a sports bar accompanied by wings and beer, but…

The un-realist in me wonders “should athletic ability be a reason for a scholarship?” Should we simply “track” elite high school athletes and separate them from general high school sports? Should BCS football and the Big Six basketball just admit what they are and become professional?

What I do know is that the term “college sports” is simply not specific enough. Right now, to the majority of the public and journalists, it means “men’s football and basketball of the top 25.” So, perhaps, all I can really ask is that writers to be more specific when they outline their concerns and complaints. And that, when the NCAA (as in, the athletic directors and coaches) looks to “fix” college sports, they dare to pay more attention to the majority of the 300,000.

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Kim to Michigan.

The Big East coaches are getting picked off one by one.

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A little W news

From the Times: Stern Shines Light on W.N.B.A., Development League

One of the things Stern, and the other representatives of the league, spoke most passionately about was the lack of coverage of the W.N.B.A. by the media.

“It’s too bad that we can’t get a fair allocation of space based on interest,” Stern said in reference to the league’s ratings on ESPN2 in contrast to the small amount of coverage it receives in many newspapers and online sites.

When asked if there were any publications that were adequately covering the league, the W.N.B.A.’s president Laurel Richie said “I’d say no, but maybe that’s just because I’m biased. But I’d say no.”

From Swish Appeal: 2012 WNBA Draft Recap: A Few General Observations

Over the last few days, I’ve had conversations with a number of people about Monday’s WNBA Draft and a few themes seemed to emerge as prominent.

Jessica has already looked at the team-by-team results, but the following is a summary of some of the major themes.

Star-divide

Shenise Johnson might end up being the steal of the draft: I didn’t think Johnson would fall past the Tulsa Shock at #4, a team that had a clear need for a wing. Glory Johnson was clearly among the most talented prospects in the draft, so it wasn’t a costly mistake. But Shenise Johnson was among the most versatile playmakers – as in distributing and scoring – to come out in a few years.

Nate says of Lib pick Cain: She is healthy and put up solid numbers in Turkey while overseas — the problem is those “solid” numbers weren’t in the top league.

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Courtesy of Lady Swish:

Summitt and Larry have been professional peers for decades, but Larry said they really became friends after the 1997 Final Four.

“The respect factor changed after that Final Four,” she said.

Larry’s Lady Monarchs fell to the Lady Vols in the NCAA title game that year; during the regular season ODU beat Tennessee — the first and only win for the Lady Monarchs over the Lady Vols under Larry.

Larry said she and Summitt would regularly dine after the teams played in the annual series. Still Larry made no secret over the years that orange wasn’t exactly a favorite color of hers. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop Larry from wearing orange and only orange to a ceremony in Knoxville honoring Summitt after she reached 1,000 coaching victories.

“I left all the tags on,” Larry said.

Beth and Debbie podcast on coach Summitt.

Doc Rivers: Pat Summitt Is ‘Responsible For Women’s Basketball’ (VIDEO)

Chamique Holdsclaw pays tribute to Tennessee coach Pat Summitt

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The Season Ends, and the Scoreboard Doesn’t Tell the Story

On the first day of practice in October, Lutz asked her players some basic questions. Where is the free-throw line? What is traveling? How many players are on the court at a time?

Most of the girls replied with blank stares.

“Until Christmas, I was teaching them offense versus defense,” Lutz said. “We have a crash course in peewee basketball — dribbling, passing, shooting, defense.”

She knows that her record with a team that always loses may preclude her from coaching elsewhere someday. It gnaws at her. But she musters enthusiasm for the job — doggedly challenging referees, for example, or diving for loose balls in practice to set an example.

“I’m going to coach like we’re going to win a state championship,” Lutz said. “They deserve that.”

Players see her as a stable, trustworthy role model, unlike anyone they know. She is fiery, sassy and confident. She gives them pointers on everything from manners to hairstyles.

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and picks the Maroons’ Aaron Roussell as their next coach.

Chicago’s been making a lot of noise in the DIII/UAA ranks.

In less happy DIII news: Kean’s punishment handed down

Kean University lacked institutional control and failed to monitor its women’s basketball program, leading to impermissible financial aid and extra benefits for its student-athletes, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions.

The former women’s head basketball coach, Michele Sharp, failed to establish an atmosphere of rules compliance, according to the committee, and Kean also was cited for providing financial aid packages in violation of NCAA legislation, which impacted student-athletes across four sports.

Penalties in this case, many of which were instituted by the university, include four years of probation, a four-year show-cause order for the former coach and postseason bans for four teams.

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Brittney Griner won’t play for U.S.

USA Basketball says:

“It’s unfortunate that Brittney is unable to participate with USA Basketball this summer, however, we have an extremely deep and talented USA National Team program and remain confident that we will field a very competitive team that all Americans will be very proud of,” said USA Basketball Executive Director/CEO Jim Tooley. “This in no way precludes Brittney from future USA National Team events; she is a young and talented player with a bright future ahead of her in international basketball and we look forward to her continued involvement. We wish nothing but the best for Brittney and her family.”

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The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to White House.

“Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched,” Obama said. “Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”

More:

USA Today: Pat Summitt officially passes the whistle to Holly Warlick

Elliot Almond, Boston Herald: Coach Pat Summitt’s legacy is everlasting

The story reminded me of my first interaction with Summitt at the 2008 Final Four in Tampa, Fla. After a news conference with national media, Longman and I corralled Summitt for a few extra minutes.

Summitt didn’t mind. Always the raconteur, she regaled us with stories as homespun as honey. While Summitt knew Longman well, she and I had never been introduced.

Yet when I asked her about playing Stanford for the national championship, she turned to me and said, “Well, Elliott, it’s going to be a tough one.”

So sharp-minded, Summitt had remembered my name from a question I posed during the news conference. As I recount that story, the impact of her disease hits hard.

Lynn Zinser, New York Times: Pat Summitt’s Signature: Success and Dignity

It was at once a moment expected and inevitable and yet one with no way to prepare. As Tennessee’s women’s basketball season marched on, it became clear Pat Summitt could not sustain her role as head coach much longer as she battled early onset Alzheimer’s and it became one long goodbye party, but one no one could acknowledge. And when the goodbye was finally uttered on Wednesday, with Summitt abdicating the throne she occupied for 38 years, the reality washed over everyone who is in some degree in her debt. And that would be everyone in the sport.

Jason Witten: Pat Summitt a legend

Coach Bechler blogs: Why Pat Summitt is the Best

1.  She Humbly Understands Her Importance–In meeting a new woman in the movie Anchorman, Ron Burgundy, proudly proclaims “I am what you call a big deal around here.  People know me!”  I have seen Coach Summitt on multiple occasions working intensely trying to run a camp or evaluate a prospect at an event when somebody approaches her for an autograph or picture.  Not only does she grant the request, she does it with a pep in her step, a smile, and a genuinely positive attitude.  She didn’t become the first millionaire women’s coach just because she won.  She was also worth that money because she is a brand.  She is a larger than life figure that provides hope and an example to thousands of people per year (plus she is not afraid to don a cheerleader outfit on occasion).

Dan Wolken, Fox: Summitt goes out the right way

“I feel really good about my decision,” Summitt told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “I think it’s going to be a win-win situation for everybody.”

Including us.

Because for as much as we will miss Summitt’s presence in a sport she revolutionized, watching her decline would have been worse. Seeing her lose her independence, her competitiveness, her competence on the sidelines would have been worse. Questioning whether her disease was to blame if Tennessee lost a basketball game would have been worse.

Tennessean: Pat Summitt gives seat to Holly Warlick – Transitional year set stage for new roles and Pat Summitt, a true class act, did what was best for UT

GoVolsXtra: Mark Wiedmer: ‘Emeritus’ intent — respect, protect and Court Adjourned: Pat Summitt steps down after illustrious career and John Adams: Coaching trumped other opportunities for Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt Retirement Press Conference Transcript

AP: Summitt: It Was ‘Privilege’ To Coach At Tennessee

David Hyde Pierce: I see hope in Pat Summitt

Pierce’s father and his grandfather suffered from the disease. Pierce said no one knew anything about it when his father was diagnosed.

“We didn’t talk about it,” Pierce said. “There was a stigma. In many parts of this country there still is. When somebody like Pat steps forward, as she does in coaching the basketball, this is the opponent, we’re going to face them head on. That’s what families need to do. That’s what the country needs to do. I find that very encouraging.”

WaPo: Pat Summitt: A fan pays touching tribute to a legend

I’m nobody significant. I have almost no Twitter followers. I don’t blog. I’m just a guy raised by good parents who believed in and appreciated the good that people do. My Dad died when I was a kid and my Mom was never a basketball fan, but at some point in my life I learned about Pat Summit. I followed her on ESPN. I read the articles about her and her teams, and I’ve developed a long appreciation for what she has accomplished. I never hung her poster on my wall as a kid, but I was a fan. I am a fan. I have been blown away by the way she has built remarkable teams and helped produce even more remarkable women.

I’m going to be a father in 3 months. We’re having a girl. And like many parents, I’ve allowed myself to dream about my little girl one day becoming a great scholar, or athlete or contributor to society. But as I watch Coach Summit leave (and I completely understand why), I can’t help but think that all I really want is for my daughter to one day learn from a woman like her. A woman who won against odds, lost gracefully and made being great and being modest at the same time seem not only possible but reasonable.

I know Coach Summit will go on. This is not a eulogy. This is a thank you note. And a promise that even the young girls who grow up miles away from her legacy will always know her name, and more importantly, her story.

Good luck, Coach

A fan.

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Miami’s Katie Meier To Lead 2012 USA Basketball U18 Women – LSU’s Nikki Caldwell, Gonzaga’s Kelly Graves Tabbed As Assistant Coaches

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Pat Summitt’s career remembered by C. Vivian Stringer and Anne Donovan

“For such a long time, Pat Summitt has been the gatekeeper for women’s basketball,” said Rutgers coach C.Vivian Stringer, a longtime friend of Summit’s. Her contributions to the game go far beyond the 1,098 victories and eight National Championships. It’s about impact she has had on every Lady Vol that has come through that program to the countless others across the globe whose lives she has touched – those are things that make Pat special. She represents a pillar of strength and a source of inspiration for all of us.

“This news saddens me because I have personally shared so many conversations with her as it relates to everything from basketball to family life. I feel like a piece of me has left the game and there is no bigger loss to women’s basketball. Although the world will miss seeing her on the sidelines, I know Pat will continue to be a rock for the Tennessee program in her new role.”

**

“Pat Summitt has been the most significant coach in the women’s game to date,” Donovan said today. “In addition to her unparalleled success in coaching, Pat’s legacy is now about her courage, strength and class in one of life’s biggest challenges. Our game is losing a legendary teacher, mentor and role model. Even though she may not be on the bench, Pat’s impact will continue to be felt in the thousands of women and men whose lives she has touched, mine included. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play for and work under the best, Pat Summitt.”

From Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN: Tennessee’s Summitt changed game

You can make the argument — without apology or hesitation — that Pat Summitt is the greatest college basketball coach of our time. At the very least, she’s in the starting five.

And it’s not because she won more games than any other Division I coach from A (Geno Auriemma) to K (Mike Krzyzewski) to W (John Wooden). Or that she has the same number of national championships as Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp combined. Or that in the 31 years there’s been an NCAA women’s basketball tournament, her team has been in it every year — and won eight times.

Greatness isn’t measured simply by victories. It is measured by the depth and width of a coach’s impact on the sport itself, on the players, on the university they represent. Find me another basketball coach who transformed and legitimized her sport more than Summitt. Find me another basketball coach whose legacy exceeds hers. I can wait.

Graham: Summitt is face of Title IX generation

Everything and nothing changed Wednesday in Knoxville, Tenn.

News that Pat Summitt is stepping aside as head coach at the University of Tennessee to accept the role of head coach emeritus, leaving control of the women’s basketball program to longtime assistant Holly Warlick, comes as little surprise precisely because it is the inverse of the shocking news that came almost a year ago, when Summitt informed the world she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Nobody saw the former coming. Sadly, everybody saw this coming.

Dick Vitale: Pat Summitt leaves incredible legacy

I was sorry to hear that Pat Summitt was retiring as Tennessee women’s basketball head coach.

My friends, she was the best of the best in college basketball, men’s or women’s. In fact, she was one of the greatest coaches of any sport.

Check out the games on ESPN classic: ESPN’s Coverage Plans Surrounding Summitt

And for some needed smiles, check out the hair and clothes “through the ages.”

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Muffet:

“While I’m certainly sad to hear that Pat is stepping down as the head coach at the University of Tennessee, I think today is really a time to celebrate Pat’s amazing accomplishments and everything she has done to help bring the sport of women’s basketball to where it is today. The word ‘legend’ can sometimes be overused in sports, but in Pat’s case, that’s exactly what she is. Pat has set the bar so high for all of us, not only with the success her teams have enjoyed on the court, but the way she has carried herself off the court, with such class, dignity and grace. It’s a standard of excellence that likely will never be matched in our game, and I feel fortunate and honored to have had the opportunity to coach against her, and to learn from her during my career. All of us at Notre Dame wish for her good health and happiness in her new role as head coach emeritus at Tennessee. We know that the Lady Vol program will remain strong and vibrant with Holly Warlick as head coach, and we wish her much success.”

WBCA CEO Beth Bass:

“When you think of women’s basketball, you think of Pat Summitt. She is the first female coach whose name literally has become synonymous with her sport.

“Of course, we all know her record — the thousand victories, the eight national championships, and so on — but we’ll never be able to adequately put into words the contributions Pat has made to women’s basketball and, specifically, to the women’s basketball coaching profession. She is a mentor, role model and inspiration to so many. All coaches of girls’ and women’s basketball have her to thank in large part for the success our game now enjoys.

“Pat is a founding member of the WBCA. She was present in the meeting held during the Olympic Festival in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1981, to discuss the formation of a women’s basketball coaches association. She has been a member and tremendous supporter of the WBCA ever since. We will forever be indebted to her for what she has done through the years for this association.”

Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director:

Basketball in general, not just women’s basketball, owes so much to Pat Summitt. She is obviously one of basketball’s all-time greats. She has played a significant part on three different U.S. Olympic Teams, as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and she has taught so many young players about life through basketball. Coach Summitt’s legacy is seen every summer when USA Basketball fields teams for international basketball competitions. From the junior to the senior level, some of her current or former players are almost always listed on USA Basketball rosters. We will miss seeing her pacing the sidelines and wish her nothing but the best as she undertakes her new challenge as head coach emeritus.

Sherri:

Pat is one of those rare individuals whose influence crosses all boundary lines. Literally thousands of coaches in a vast array of sports abide by her tenets, passing them on as gospel to their players. Her name is synonymous with the sport of women’s basketball, and yet I believe it is her leadership style–her way of achieving, if you will, that will be her most dominant legacy.

On a personal level, I feel unbelievably blessed to have had the opportunity to compete against her. I, and an entire generation of women’s basketball coaches, will always be indebted to her for the culture of excellence she helped to create in our sport. It is on the foundation of relevance that her success helped carve that we and others like us have built our programs.

Geno:

Pat’s vision for the game of women’s basketball and her relentless drive pushed the game to a new level and made it possible for the rest of us to accomplish what we did,” Auriemma said in a statement. “In her new role, I’m sure she will continue to make significant impacts on the University of Tennessee and on the game of women’s basketball as a whole. 

“I am thrilled for Holly (Warlick) as this opportunity is well deserved and Pat will be a huge asset to her moving forward.” 

Mechelle: Changes are right decisions – Holly Warlick taking over for Pat Summitt is emotional but wise move

Tennessee can and does sell its eight NCAA titles and 18 NCAA Final Four appearances, its large and passionate fan base, its track record for producing Olympians and pro players. Ultimately, though, most recruiting deals are closed by the head coach, and now the recruits know exactly who that will be: Warlick.

She will have to personally and philosophically adjust to that. She is no longer the first lieutenant; she is the captain. She has to think that way. Her touching deference to Summitt this season was 100 percent genuine, but now she is the boss.

That is a change, even for someone who has prepped for the role as long as Warlick has. She can’t replicate Summitt’s personality or larger-than-life aura. Nobody can. There will never be another Pat Summitt.

But Warlick has her own life story of goals, of hardships — her father died when she was in high school, and she had to grow up quickly — and of dreams. Like Summitt, Warlick is a native of Tennessee, and her roots are sunk just as deeply into the state.

Dan Fleser: Pat Summitt steps down – Holly Warlick named Lady Vols head coach

Mike Sherman, Oklahoman: Rooting for Pat Summitt

The truth is sports editors do have a rooting interest.

Many of us root for the story, and early last month several of us in The Oklahoman sports department we were rooting for Pat Summitt to make one last trip to Oklahoma City.

It was the days leading up to the release of the women’s NCAA Tournament bracket, and some of us around the office were hoping Tennessee would be assigned to the Norman Regional. We wanted one more chance to write about Summitt’s impact on her sport, all of sports and American culture. I’m trying to think of a more important woman in the history of American sports, and I can’t.

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated: Summitt made basketball matter at football-crazed Tennessee

Liz Clarke, WaPo: Pat Summitt to step down: legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach won 1,098 games, 8 NCAA titles

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Warlick named head coach

and Pat Summitt to become coach emeritus

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T-shirt has botched SEC locales

Remember in 2002, San Antonio when the Final Four pins had Connecticut misspelled?

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When Children Are Caught in the Cycle, Not All Can Be Saved

Always alert to the movements of the players, particularly at road games, he was in his element. He scanned the faces in the crowd. He searched for hints of trouble.

But to him, it was not an issue of race. It was an issue of keeping the students safe. And right now, the girls were behind a closed door, gathered in a circle with their arms locked at the elbows, receiving last-minute instructions from their coach and bowing their heads in prayer.

They were safe.

So Steele, 53, stood near the baseline, outside the locker room minutes before the game, and looked pleased to be there. He let slip a sliver of a smile.

Those girls in the locker room? They were not just basketball players. To Steele, they were something of himself.

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Ooops!

The WNBA’s Atlanta Dream drafted an ineligible player

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At Wake/UNT: Mike Petersen has resigned as Wake Forest head women’s basketball coach and will become the seventh head coach at The University of North Texas.

At BGSU: Jennifer Roos Named Head Women’s Basketball Coach at BGSU

At UCSB: UC Santa Barbara women’s basketball assistant coach Courtney Locke has accepted a coaching position at the University of Central Florida.

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From Mechelle: L.A. picks Ogwumike No. 1

The woman who was considered the one lock-solid, absolute sure thing in this WNBA draft was herself not sure about playing pro basketball until about a year ago.

Stanford forward Nneka Ogwumike was chosen first Monday by the Los Angeles Sparks. For all the program’s accolades, the Cardinal had never before had the top WNBA draft selection from its ranks.

“And we could potentially have three No. 1 picks from our school this year, with Andrew Luck and Mark Appel,” said Ogwumike, ever the proud alum.

Andd more: Redemption is common thread – Shock, 9-59 the past two seasons, and some draft picks after the same thing

Miami’s Riquna Williams breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude when she heard her name called. Her wait was over, and she hopes a fresh start is ahead.

“I definitely got teary,” Williams said.

At Monday’s WNBA draft, Williams was one of the 15 players invited to take part at ESPN’s studio. Considering how her Miami career ended — she was not taken to the team’s early-round NCAA tournament games at Gonzaga, where the Hurricanes lost in the second round — Williams knew doubts had surrounded her.

Samantha Prahalis’ style fits Mercury

If you want scoring ability and highlight-reel passes, Samantha Prahalis can give you that.

If you want conformity, look elsewhere. That’s something she isn’t interested in providing.

Prahalis, a 5-foot-7, up-tempo point guard who was selected No. 6 overall by the Phoenix Mercury in Monday’s WNBA draft, isn’t sure why she was so heavily scrutinized in her four years at Ohio State. But she has her suspicions.

Peck and Lobo do a little WNBA Draft Recap

Wait, there’s more: Draft winners and losers – Shock and Liberty at opposite ends of scale

Who struck out

New York: Just what was John Whisenant doing taking former Tennessee player Kelley Cain — she of the bad knees and bad back — with the No. 7 pick in the first round?

Cain chose to forego her last season of eligibility in Tennessee because she said her body couldn’t stand up to the rigors of that. And although she has been playing in Turkey, she’s not in that country’s top league. Again, this draft didn’t have that much obvious talent. But if Whiz wanted size — veteran post Janel McCarville is sitting out this WNBA season, as she did last year — Georgia Tech’s Goodlett was still available.

For that matter, if he wanted to risk a pick on a Tennessee center with previous injury issues, why not take Vicki Baugh? Or take a flier on Florida State’s Cierra Bravard?

Then with the last pick of the draft, Whiz took Katelan Redmon of Gonzaga. For all practical purposes, New York could have just skipped the draft entirely.

Yup, that’s my McCarville-free GM/Coach, folks! The Rebkellians weigh in. Honestly, the only explanation I can come up with is that the Liberty REALLY want to pad their chances in the Griner sweepstakes.

More team-based draft day articles can be found at Kim’s Women’s Basketball Online – Daily News page.

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For Carroll Academy’s Players, Home is Not Always a Haven

One side of the gym had a smattering of fans for Sacred Heart. The bleachers set aside for Carroll Academy’s Lady Jaguars were virtually empty. Again.

The nine girls on the team usually outnumber their fans in the stands.

“That tells you all you need to know,” said Randy Hatch, the day-to-day leader of Carroll Academy, a school in Huntingdon administered by the juvenile court. “That’s why we’re here. If their parents had been there all along, maybe we wouldn’t be here. Right now, we’re the only family they got.”

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draft pick, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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this time from Oklahoma: Pioneers with game

They’d play men’s teams — mostly a collection of area coaches, some military base teams and even some NFL players competing in the off-season to stay in shape.

And at times, not only win, but embarrass them.

“We played men and we played full court,” said Myrtle Wallace Frost of Checotah, her once strawberry-blonde hair now silver. “That was quite the transition from the days of 6-on-6 where almost to when I graduated, you could dribble and stop once before having to pass.”

A three-time all-state selection at Checotah High School, Frost, now 82, averaged “25 to 30” points a game and once scored a state-record 61 points in a game as a 5-foot-10 forward. She took her talents to the Missouri-based squad in the fall of 1948 where her pivot play in the block and hook shot with either hand marveled onlookers of the day through 1953.

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The Lady Jaguars, Part 2
Carroll Academy is a day school in Huntingdon, Tenn., operated by the Carroll County Juvenile Court and financed mostly by the state’s Department of Children’s Services. The region is beset by high unemployment, rampant prescription drug abuse and a proliferation of methamphetamine labs.

The Carroll County Juvenile Court judge, who has authority over the school, and Carroll Academy’s director gave The New York Times unrestricted access to explore the school through its girls basketball team, whose players have little experience with organized sports and myriad troubles outside of school. For this five-part series, The Times spoke with the girls, many of their parents and relatives, school administrators and coaches.

The Carroll Academy girls basketball team had just lost by 59 points to Dresden High School, the top team in the conference. Still, Tonya Lutz, Carroll Academy’s coach, lauded her team’s effort. Randy Hatch, Carroll Academy’s day-to-day director and founder of the basketball program, reached into a pocket and slipped $20 to one of the girls, as he usually does after games.

Together, amid giggles, the nine girls on the team bounced to the snack stand in a single-file line. Patrick Steele, the school’s straight-faced security director, followed them. Over the years, Steele has overheard taunts, even racial slurs, directed at Carroll Academy students, boys and girls, from opposing fans. He escorts the players wherever they go — from the bus to the gym, to the locker rooms and bathrooms, and back to the bus.

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From the New York Times: Coaches Face New Scrutiny on Sex Abuse

The case of Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for Penn State’s football team accused of child sexual abuse, is now working its way through the courts. But it is already having an impact on thousands of other coaches, both volunteer and paid, who find themselves facing new scrutiny from parents, sports organizations and even state legislators.

Since the Penn State scandal came to light in November, lawmakers in more than a dozen states, including New York, California and Pennsylvania, have introduced bills adding coaches, athletic directors or university officials to the list of “mandated reporters” of suspected child abuse or neglect. In the past month, such bills have been signed in Virginia, Washington and West Virginia, with several other states expected to follow suit.

While the bills vary, some would impose significant punishments, including fines, felony charges and potential prison time for coaches or officials who violate the new laws that require the authorities to be notified.

I just want to flashback to 2004: DEAFENING SILENCE: Sexual Abuse By Coaches January 2005 and Addendum

Few would deny that 2004 was a year full of engaging and positive stories celebrating the growth of women’s basketball. The NCAA tournament drew unprecedented attention from both the media and fans culminating in a dramatic final with record-breaking viewership. The WNBA welcomed an extraordinary group of rookies, successfully negotiated an Olympic break and crowned a new champion in front of a sold out house. On the international front, the United States maintained its dominance in classic style – showcasing the past, present and future with a team that epitomized the very essence of the women’s game. Finally, as the new college season began, the buzz was not only about a breathtaking crop of young freshman, but a topsy-turvy season that seemed to suggest that the “holy grail” of parity was close to a reality.

However, since I pride myself in following women’s basketball closely, I could not avoid a disturbing number of stories that shared a common theme: the sexual misconduct of coaches with their players. Consider the following brief sample of stories from this past year:

* A 39-year-old former Little League and youth basketball coach in Maine pled guilty to eight felonies and two misdemeanors, admitting he raped three teenage girls in the 1980′s and then sexually abused two others in 2002 and 2003.

* In Texas, a 45-year-old coach arrested on charges of criminal sexual penetration. The warrant included threats made towards the girl’s college career if she resisted sex with the coach. The alleged abuse took place in 1994 and 1998 and the accuser came forward after she heard stories about other alleged victims coming forward.

* In California, a high school girls’ basketball coach surrendered to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.

* In Oregon, a coach who admitted he had sex with two former pupils, one who was under the age of consent, vowed to coach again. “I’m going to continue to teach basketball, because I’m arguably the best at what I do in the country,” claimed the coach. “People are going to contract me out to (coach). I’m either going to build a facility where I don’t have to worry about when I want to use it, or somebody is going to rent me court space.”

* In Wisconsin, a girls’ varsity basketball coach and social studies teacher faced charges that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old player while pursuing her for months for an intimate relationship. He was charged with five counts of sexual assault of a child, three counts of child enticement with sexual conduct, and one count of sexual assault by school staff.

* In Arkansas a girls basketball coach faced felony sexual assault charges on an allegation he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.

* In Colorado a girls’ basketball coach accused of having sex with three of his underage players was charged with 59 counts of sexual assault and child abuse. The horror was compounded when the coach was found dead of an apparent suicide in his jail cell.

As a writer, a fan, an educator and a woman these articles set off alarm bells, and I keep waiting for some kind of response from the organizations I consider the leaders in women’s basketball: the NCAA, the AAU and the WBCA.

The silence has been deafening.

And incomprehensible.

The NCAA considers one of its core values “protecting the best interests of student-athletes.” Its Health and Safety site has amongst its headings Sports Medicine, Drug Testing, Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Education Programs (which includes a link to the Minimum Guidelines for such programs). A link to the Nutrition and Performance page reveals a site whose aim is “to promote a healthy and safe environment for student-athletes regarding optimal nutrition, positive body image and peak performance by providing education and awareness.”

And yet when I contacted the NCAA, a representative who works with their Health and Safety programs knew of no regulations, guidelines and or position papers on sexual abuse published by the NCAA. “We provide the NCAA membership with resources to address sexual health and relationships issues,” wrote the representative, “through our Health and Safety Speakers Grant Program, which provides funding for outside speakers to present on selected wellness issues, and through the APPLE Conferences.”

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