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From Jere’: Pat Summitt, Tennessee Basketball Coach Who Emboldened Women’s Sports, Dies at 64

Over nearly four decades, Ms. Summitt helped transform women’s college basketball from a sport ignored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association into one that drew national television audiences and paid its most successful coaches more than $1 million a year.

“In modern history, there are two figures that belong on the Mount Rushmore of women’s sports — Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt,” Mary Jo Kane, a sports sociologist at the University of Minnesota, said in 2011. “No one else is close to third.”

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Family of ex-Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt ‘preparing for the worst’

Former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt is “struggling” and those close to her are “preparing for the worst,” a source involved in the situation confirmed Sunday morning.

“I don’t think anybody knows whether she will last a day, a month, or a year,” the source said.

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to see if it was the same knee she injured and rehabbed before the 1976 Olympics… which got me to this fabulous photo from SI: 1976_Oly(2)

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Wicked early flight meant getting up wicked-er early, so I’m looking forward to a nap soon.

It’s chilly-greening-spring here in Tennessee – 40 or so when we landed, but the Final Four greeter promised us 64 by noon. When you’re in the sun, yes….when you’re not? Brrrrrr!

Easy car pick up, then headed to East Nashville for some breakfast at Marche Artisan Foods. Great service, yummy food…

With time to kill before the hotel opened up, drove into, through and around downtown Nashville. Small and bustling at the center. Different, more concentrated vibe than when I was in Knoxville for the WBHOF induction ceremony a while back. Strong mix of old and new architecture.

Continued our wandering exploration and end up driving past Vanderbilt (yes, as we researched, started by THAT Vanderbilt – hence the “Commodores” nickname.) Did you know the campus was also an arboretum? Did a quick drive through – really, really lovely. Also stopped by Centennial Park to visit the Parthenon and did some walking. Yup, it’s big. Nearby lake is being dredged/cleaned, so that wasn’t so scenic.

It’s early for birds – but there is a list: RobinsBlue Jays, a lone Turkey Vulture, cackling Grackles, some beautiful Bank Swallows, noisy Northern Mockingbird, a gregarious Carolina Wren, and an early Hermit Thrush.

Next on the agenda, the aforementioned nap, then a return to East Nashville to partake of the fare at the Eastland Cafe. Then, we’re off to the Grand Ole Opry!

Phew!

Hoping tomorrow features a visit with a WBHOF inductee, coffee, brunch, barbecue and two fabulous games.

Until them, some more reading (and listening): First, make sure you check out the Tennessean’s coverage:

Fans show love early in Women’s Final Four

Kara Lawson: No favorite between Pat, Geno

Rebecca Lobo: UConn is beatable

Legendary lady Pat Summitt: Pride of Cheatham County

WOOT! WOOT! WBB HISTORY!! Nashville Business College: Champions before their time – LONG BEFORE TENNESSEE AND UCONN, THESE FARM GIRLS DOMINATED WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AND THEIR RECORD IS UNMATCHED TODAY.

Final Four teams have fun at Ryman

UConn’s Dolson, Hartley old hands at Final Four, Post
More Than Anything, Geno Demands Sweat From UConn Women, Courant
More Awards For Stefanie Dolson, Courant
Capsule: No. 1 Seed UConn Women Vs. No. 2 Seed Stanford, Courant
Pictures: Behind The Scenes With UConn Women In Nashville, Courant
It’s a Great Time to be a Husky, Stefanie Dolson

Stanford’s supporting cast stepping up to help Ogwumike, Register
ESPN analyst touts Ogwumike’s pro potential, SFGate
Lawson Says Stanford Has Best Shot At UConn, Hartford Courant

U-Md. abuzz as women’s basketball team heads to Final Four, Washington Post
Nashville already full of Maryland fans, ABC
Majoring in Chemistry, Chloe Pavlech

Before UConn, ND should fear Terps, Observer
Notre Dame Women: Save Your Pity, Blue & Gold
Irish must prove doubters wrong, Kate Fagan
Geno (And USA Basketball) Love Kayla McBride, Hartford Courant

Dishin & Swishin 04/03/14 Podcast: Breaking down the Final Four with coaches Doug Bruno, Lindsay Gottlieb & Coquese Washington, HoopFeed

Duke coach’s analysis of women’s Final Four, Bradenton Herald

In Women’s Final Four, Jousting Before the First Jump Ball, yea! It’s Harvey at the New York Times

Beating UConn rarely leads to title – Most teams that beat UConn in NCAA tourney don’t win NCAA championship, Mechelle Voepel

Rematches story of women’s Final Four, AP Teresa M. Walker

Five minutes with ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, Nashville Business Journal

NCAA hosting women’s hoops summit at Final Four, AP Doug

 

As coach Mitchell cuts to assistant coaches, Sea of Blue is Taking a Moment To Celebrate The Season That Was

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A while back, Joanne Lannin, author of “A History of Basketball for Girls and Women,” dropped me a note to give me a heads up.

1) She’s working on an updated version of the book

2) She’s also  working on a book about the pioneering spirit of women in basketball and would love to talk to folks who played the game before Title IX was enacted in 1972.

3) She’s started a blog: Finding a Way to Play. Check it out for pieces on Delle DonneShoni

Junior Shoni Schimmel lit up the NCAA women’s tournament last spring with her fearless, exhuberant play for the University of Louisville (that’s her trash-talking Britney Griner at left).By way of her ascent to the national stage, Schimmel has shone a light on the experience of females like her: Native American basketball players who are making a name for themselves beyond the reservation.

Goodrich

Angel, who was drafted 29th out of the University of Kansas, was not the first Native American to make it to the WNBA, but she is the first to crack a starting lineup. Ryneldi Becenti, a member of the Navajo tribe in Arizona, played one game for the Phoenix Sun in 1997 and Tahnee Robinson, a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe in Wyoming, played exhibition games during the 2011 preseason for the Connecticut Sun before being cut.

To Native Americans — be they from the foothills of Oregon, the deserts of Arizona or the plains of Oklahoma — Goodrich’s rise to the elite women’s professional level, has been a break in the clouds after many years of playing in the shadows. The experience of Indian girls in some ways mirrored that of white girls, whose opportunities to play competitive basketball were hit or miss until the latter decades of the 20th century.

the fabulous Hazel Walker, and Coach Summitt.

Wait, you suddenly feel the urge to read up on your women’s basketball history? Check out the books on this list.

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C Viv finally gets her 900th win courtesy of the USF Bulls. (Really, coach, you didn’t realize it?) Writes Mechelle

Sometimes it will surprise her young charges when Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer casually drops a pop-culture reference into conversation. Beyonce this or Ne-Yo that. It’s actually not calculated on her part, but rather stuff she has picked up.

“I think that in order to continue to relate well to young people, you need to be current,” Stringer said. “And developing those relationships — that’s not draining to me. While the job itself can be stressful, I’m always rejuvenated by working with young people.”

After Rutgers snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday, Stringer picked up her 900th victory as the Scarlett Knights beat South Florida. It was a historical win for the Rutgers program and for Stringer, putting her in the 900-win group of women’s coaches, joining Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt and Sylvia Hatchell.

Speaking of legends: With the most recent Pat Summitt book hitting the stands, Mechelle says, UConn-Tennessee rivalry missed

In the end, barriers between Auriemma and Summitt went up, and the programs’ scintillating on-court rivalry was the casualty.

Deep down, though, you sensed they always knew they had pushed each other to greater heights. You wondered what it might take to bring just enough of a thaw for them to really talk again.

However … the sport went on without the UConn-Tennessee game, with the women’s hoops calendar finding other big clashes to take its place. UConn-Stanford, UConn-Notre Dame and UConn-Baylor, for example, have all gotten larger spotlights. And that has helped the growth of game, too.

Do we miss UConn-Tennessee? We miss what it was at its best: two coaching legends matching wits, some of the best players in NCAA women’s history facing off, and backed up by legitimately large fan bases who bring the best (and worst) of college sports fanaticism.

A side note on the excerpt from the book that was published in Sports Illustrated. It revisits the reason Summitt ended the series: recruiting.

“I didn’t itemize my complaints publicly then, and I’m not going to now,” she wrote. “I went through the appropriate channels and that’s how it will stay. I made my concerns known to UConn through our athletic director, Joan Cronan, and the Southeastern Conference. UConn responded that they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. I made my concerns known again. Same response.

Anyone who follows women’s basketball recruiting knows the published facts behind this: A complaint was filed with the NCAA by the SEC (on behalf of Tennessee) and UConn was found to have committed “secondary” violations. Clearly, Summitt’s issues are not with the secondary violation, since

as defined in Bylaw 19.02.2.1, a secondary violations one that provides only a limited recruiting or competitive
advantage and is isolated or inadvertent in nature. If the Committee on Infractions determines that repeated secondary
violations have occurred and that the institution is not taking appropriate action to prevent such violations, a penalty
appropriate for a major violation may be imposed.

Tennessee, for instance just recently self-reported secondary violations.

So, what I don’t understand is why coach Summitt won’t itemize her complaints. If she had UConn dead to rights on violations, we can only hope the NCAA would kick their butt (witness the UConn men’s program.). But they didn’t. If there are behavior issues, call ’em out. Break the culture of silence. Without doing that all we have is more of the same “you know what you did” v. “why don’t you say what I did.”

Blick.

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From Mechelle, Charlie and Graham and Michelle: How does Gray’s injury affect Duke? (which includes some pondering “Outside of the nation’s top-four ranked teams, who has the best chance to get to the Final Four?”)

M&M&M are Picking Award Winners

Charlie has some bracketology: Boy, are Notre Dame and UConn going to be sick of each other.

From Curt: All about ‘next game’ for Diggins

Skylar Diggins pulled up a stool and sat down after Sunday’s 87-49 rout of Marquette, white towel wrapped around her neck.

Diggins had just become the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to have 2,000 points, 500 assists and 500 rebounds in her career.

“I had no idea,” Diggins said when asked about the achievement. “I guess it looks good, when I leave here, when I’m old and gray. It’s just all about the next game. I’m trying to do what I have to do for our team to win.”

From the Husker Blog: ‘The Rex Burkhead of Women’s Basketball’

Before we begin, please understand today’s N-Sider is a history lesson, a geography challenge and a supreme compliment all rolled into one. This blog ties two well respected Husker walk-ons – offensive lineman Brodrick Nickens and basketball guard Mike Peltz with Jordan Hooper, one of the hottest Division I women’s basketball players in the country.

Sheryl Swoopes talks career, life after the WNBA, LGBT thoughts

From Dave D’Alessandro at the Star-Ledger: Former Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer does plenty of good for WNBA

We were sitting upstairs in a coffee shop two blocks east of the Garden, where nobody gave any notice to the man who might be the most influential coach and GM in the history of this 16-year-old women’s league. His first lap around the WNBA was in Detroit, where he took over a last-place team in 2002 and turned the Shock into a champion in eight months. Two more titles followed, before he left the league in 2009.

Now he’s back with the Liberty, who will start their final season in Newark in May because of renovations at MSG. If you follow the league at all, you know it needs him badly. First, this market needs a big personality to stimulate interest in a league whose attendance has cratered. Second, the Liberty have been consistently mediocre since Richie Adubato left nearly a decade ago, and need Laimbeer’s extraordinary eye for talent.

As a follow-up, Nate asks, “Who are the top mid-major prospects in the 2013 WNBA Draft? “

Obviously the top mid-major prospect in the 2013 WNBA draft is Delaware Blue Hens forward Elena Delle Donne.

But what about the rest of the players among the ranks of the mid-majors? Who else might have a shot at contributing to a WNBA team?

As usual, there are quite a few mid-major players putting up gaudy numbers as distributors, rebounders and scorers that might draw the attention of WNBA GM’s. Yet as discussed last week, mid-major programs haven’t yielded very many WNBA contributors over the past few years – it’s not impossible, but the threshold for being considered a productive WNBA prospect has proven to be extremely high. Almost to the point of having an unblemished college record for most mid-major prospects.

It’s about friggin’ time: From ESPN: Nine for IX: About Women. By Women. For Us All.

AIRING JULY 2-AUG. 27 ON ESPN

Pat Summitt’s life as it has never been told before. Venus Williams lobbying for pay equality. Female athletes balancing the double standard of being the best on the field and the sexiest off of it. These are just a few stories from ESPN Films and espnW’s documentary series, Nine for IX.

MORE ON NINE FOR IX

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