Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pat Summitt
Pat Head Summitt (born Patricia Sue Head on June 14, 1952 in Clarksville, Tennessee) is the head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team.

She has been coaching since 1974, all with the Lady Vols. She is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.

She has written two books (with the help of Sally Jenkins), Reach for the Summitt (part motivational book, part biography) and Raise the Roof (about the Lady Vols' undefeated season in 1997–1998, in which they won the NCAA championship).
Early life and family
Patricia Sue Head was born in Clarksville, Tennessee. When Pat was high-school age, her family moved to nearby Henrietta, so she could play basketball in Cheatham County since Clarksville did not have girls teams yet. From there she went to University of Tennessee-Martin, where she won All-American honors. She would later co-captain the first United States women's national basketball team as a player at the inaugural tournament at the 1976 Summer Olympics, winning the silver medal.
She has four siblings: older brothers Tommy, Charles and Kenneth, and younger sister Linda.

She married R. B. Summitt in 1980, and the two filed for divorce in 2007. They have one son, Ross Tyler Summitt (b. 1990). During the 1990-91 season, baby Tyler was passed around the Lady Vols team as a pre-game ritual.

Coaching career

Late 1970s
In the 1974–75 season, Pat Head became a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee, and was named head coach of the Lady Vols basketball team, who were 25-2 the previous year. She earned her masters degree in physical education in 1976.
In her opening season, the Lady Vols won the TCWSF Eastern District Championship for the third straight year. However, the team finished only 4th overall in the TCWSF (they had been 2nd the previous two years), and were not invited to the AIAW. After finishing 16–11 her second season, Pat directed two 20-win teams, winning back-to-back AIAW Region-II championships. 1976 also included the Lady Vols defeating 3-time AIAW champion Delta State by 20, and Tennessee's first number one ranking. 1978 saw the Lady Vols participate in their first AIAW Final Four, where they finished 3rd. Pat also recorded her 100th win during this season, a 79–66 victory over NC State. Tennessee finished up the 70s by winning the first ever SEC tournament, and returning to the Final Four, where they finished runner-up to Old Dominion, 68–53.

During the 1980-81 season, the Lady Vols went 25-6, and avenged their championship game loss to Old Dominion by defeating them three times. The team made it to the AIAW Final Four for the third straight year, but finished runner-up for the second consecutive year, losing to Louisiana Tech, 79-59.
The 1981-82 season featured the first ever NCAA Women's basketball tournament. The Lady Vols were one of 32 teams invited and named a 2 seed in their region. In the region championship, the Lady Vols upset first seeded USC 91-90 in overtime to advance to the Final Four. They lost their Final Four match-up with Louisiana Tech who ended up winning the tournament.
The next season, the Lady Vols won the regular season SEC title but fell in the SEC tournament to Georgia. Tennessee was invited to the now-36 team NCAA tournament and was given their first ever 1 seed. Tennessee made it to the regional championship, but fell to Georgia again, 67-63. Summitt won her 200th game on December 3rd, a 69-56 victory over St. John's during the Coca-Cola Classic in Detroit.

The 1983-84 season saw Tennessee start out poorly, 6-4. However, Summitt got her team together and finished 22-10, for her 8th straight twenty-win season, a streak that is still active. Tennessee not only made it to the NCAA Final Four for the second time out of the three tournaments, but also made it to the title game. However, Tennessee lost by 11 to USC who had also won the title the previous year. Pat Summitt earned Coach of the Year honors. This season was followed up by another twenty win year in which Tennessee earned both the regular season SEC title (despite only going 4-4) and the tournament title. However, the Lady Vols fell in the NCAA Tournament to Ole Miss during the Round of 16. The next season was a similar story - The Lady Vols had a decent regular season, played a great tournament (reaching the Final Four for the second time in three years), but fell before winning the title.

In 1986-87, after years of trying, the Lady Vols finally broke through and defeated perennial power Louisiana Tech for their first title, 67-44. Louisiana had defeated the Lady Vols by 12 earlier in the season. Tennessee's Tonya Edwards earned the honor of Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four. During this season, Summitt also earned her 300th win, an 87-66 victory over North Carolina. The next year, the Lady Vols were poised to repeat as the third-ranked and top seeded Tennessee made it to the Final Four yet again. However, Louisiana Tech avenged their championship loss with a nine point win and went on to win the title.

In 1988-89, the Lady Vols made it to the Final Four for the fourth straight year, and as a one seed for the second straight year. After dispatching Maryland by 12, Tennessee faced SEC rival Auburn for the title. Auburn had lost by two to Louisiana Tech in the title game the previous year and had been given its only loss in the SEC Championship. However, that loss was to Tennessee, who managed a fifteen point victory over the Tigers. The championship game was similar and Tennessee took home its second title in three years with a 76–60 victory. Record-wise, this was Tennessee's best season yet, as they won 35 games while dropping only 2: one to Auburn in the regular season and the other a two point loss to Texas. Additionally, the Lady Vols won every NCAA tournament game by at least twelve points.

In the final season of the decade, the Lady Vols started off the season well, winning the SEC title. However, the team fell by one to Auburn in the SEC Championship and then lost in overtime to Virginia in the regional finals, one game shy of making a trip to the Final Four being held in Knoxville. Summitt did accomplish another milestone during this season, however - her 400th win, a 70-69 victory over South Carolina on January 25th.

Despite winning neither the SEC regular season championship nor the tournament championship, Tennessee was given a 1 seed in the 1991 NCAA tournament. After a close win in the regional semifinals against Western Kentucky, Tennessee dispatched Auburn for the second time in three years. In the national semifinals, the Lady Vols beat Stanford, 68-60, to earn the opportunity to avenge last year's tournament loss against Virginia. Just as the previous year's game had gone into overtime, so did this one. Down one at the half, the Lady Vols tied the game at sixty by the end of regulation. Tennessee escaped in overtime with a 70-67 win and their third national title in five years. However, the next year the Lady Vols did not even make it to the regional championship, falling to the same Western Kentucky team they had beaten in the same round the previous year, 75-70. The 1992-93 season was better, as Tennessee defeated the defending champions Stanford twice and swept the SEC season for the first time ever. However, the Lady Vols were unable to grab the SEC tournament title and fell in the NCAA tournament to Iowa, a 72-56 loss in the regional finals.

Early in the 1993-94 season, Summitt grabbed her 500th win, an 80-45 beating of Ohio State on November 21st. Tennessee also won both the regular season and tournament SEC titles. However, the streak of years without a Final Four appearance extended to three with a 71-68 loss in the regional semifinals to Louisiana Tech.The next season would mark Tennessee's return to the Final Four. Tennessee ran the table in the SEC regular season for the third straight year but also failed to win the tournament title for the third straight year. The top-seeded Lady Vols breezed their way to their fifth national championship game, with no game being closer than 21. However in the National Championship, the Lady Vols fell to the undefeated UConn Huskies, coached by her bitter rival, Geno Auriemma, 70-64, the first championship of many for UConn. During the off-season, Pat Summitt acquired high school stand-out Chamique Holdsclaw.

In 1995-96, with freshman Holdsclaw and senior Michelle Marciniak, the Lady Vols won the SEC tournament and made a second straight Final Four. The other three teams, UConn, Stanford, and Georgia, had all defeated the Lady Vols in the regular season. In the semi-finals, facing the UConn Huskies who had knocked them off for the title the previous year, the Lady Vols shot out to an 11 point lead. However, UConn cut it to 4 by the half and tied the game during the second half. With twelve seconds to go, Tennessee led by three but the Huskies hit a three to send the game into overtime. This was not enough, though, as UT prevailed by 5 in overtime. The championship game was not that close as Tennessee won their fourth title easily with an 83-65 win over Georgia.

With regard to record, the 1996-97 season was one of Summitt's worst seasons ever. In addition to losses to powerhouses such as Louisiana Tech (twice), Stanford, Old Dominion, and Connecticut, Tennessee also lost to teams such as Florida, against whom they had been previously undefeated. After their tenth loss of the season, in the SEC semi-finals to Auburn, the team pulled together in time for the NCAA Tournament. Avenging their loss to undefeated Connecticut, Tennessee continued on their way to the championship game, where they avenged another loss, defeating Old Dominion by 9 for their second straight national title. Summitt also earned her 600th win during the season, a 15 point victory over Marquette on November 23, 1996.

In many aspects, the 1997-98 team was Summitt's best. With the top-ranked recruiting class as well as Chamique Holdsclaw, the Lady Vols ran the table to a 39-0 season while playing one of the top-ranked schedules in the country. Only three teams came within 10 points of beating the team, and the Lady Vols won a 93-75 victory over Louisiana Tech for their third straight national championship.

Chamique Holdsclaw (who by this point had won championships in every season she was with the Vols) had boldly declared that the 1998-99 team would be the greatest ever. However, this proved not to be the case as Tennessee didn't even make the Final Four let alone claim another title. Injuries to several players decimated the team and the Lady Vols ultimately fell to Duke in the regional finals. With this, the Chamique Holdsclaw era, much to her dismay, ended rather quietly. A landmark was set during this season however, as Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings, and Semeka Randall became the first trio from one team to be named Kodak All-Americans.

The Lady Vols ended the decade with their third straight 30-win season, third straight SEC title, and third straight SEC Tournament title. Additionally, the Lady Vols defeated UConn in the regular season, 72-71, in what would ultimately be the Huskies only loss of the year. In the NCAA tournament, Tennessee breezed its way to the title game, winning all 5 games by at least ten points. However, in the championship game the Lady Vols were blown out by the Geno Auriemma-coached Huskies, 71-52. This marked the second time in five years that UConn had beat UT in the final, adding more intensity to the Summit/Auriemma rivalry. During the season, Summitt earned her 700th win, 85-62 at Wisconsin.

At the 2000 ESPY awards, the Lady Vols basketball team was named co-team of the decade, along with the Florida State Seminoles football team. Additionally, Pat Summitt was named the Naismith Coach of the Century and Chamique Holdsclaw earned recognition as player of the century.

In the 2000-01 season, the Lady Vols claimed another SEC title, winning all 14 SEC games. Additionally, they split the season series with the UConn Huskies and headed into the SEC tournament with a 28-1 record. However, the Lady Vols were upset by Vanderbilt in the semifinals and then lost in the Sweet Sixteen to Xavier, their worst finish since 1993-94. Despite this, Pat Summitt earned her 750th win, in the second game against UConn, a 92-88 victory. Additionally, the team finished with their fourth straight thirty-win season.

In the 2001-02 season, UConn won the match-up by 14 points. However, they would see each other later in the tournament. Tennessee suffered other losses during the season, losing to Texas by a point and getting badly beaten by the Duke Blue Devils. Additionally, despite winning their fifth straight SEC championship, the Lady Vols fell once again in the tournament, this time to LSU. In the NCAA tournament, Tennessee was able to reach the Final Four yet again, with a 5 point win over Vanderbilt. This trip to the Final Four marked Summitt's 13th appearance, which broke Coach John Wooden's record of 12, as well as her 788th win, which tied her with Jody Conradt for winningest coach in women's basketball history. However, the Lady Vols fell in the national semifinals to Connecticut and coach Geno Auriemma, who wound up winning the championship and capping an undefeated season. This loss ended the season at 29-5, one win shy of extending Summitt's streak of 30-win seasons. Summitt did achieve more milestones during this season. A 106-66 win over USC marked her 200th win at home, a victory against Louisiana Tech was her 300th win against a ranked opponent and her 93-65 win over Arkansas was her 1,000th game as a coach, including international contests.

During the 2002-03 season, the Lady Vols compiled their 6th perfect SEC season, and additionally beat powerhouses Duke and Louisiana Tech among others. However, the Lady Vols dropped their second straight to Texas and lost yet another game in the series against UConn. This streak would continue as the Lady Vols made it to the title game only to lose to the Huskies, and coach Geno Auriemma, yet another time, 73-68. During the season, Summitt earned her 800th win, 76-57 over DePaul, and was the fastest coach to reach this milestone.

The 2003-04 season was quite similar to the previous year. The Lady Vols defeated most of their opponents, including Duke and Louisiana Tech, but dropped games to UConn and Texas. The Lady Vols again went 14-0 in the regular season against SEC competition and again fell in the tournament. And once against, the Lady Vols won five games in the NCAA tournament only to lose 71-52 in the championship game to Connecticut, for the third time in a title game and the fourth time in a Final Four. This was UConn's third consecutive championship, two over UT, making it clear that, for the time being, UConn and coach Geno Auriemma had UT's number.

By 2004-05, Connecticut's Diana Taurasi had finally graduated and Tennessee was able to break their losing streak against Connecticut with a narrow 68-67 victory. As Taurasi left, Tennessee received Candace Parker, a highly regarded and nationally known player. However, due to injuries, she would be redshirted and didn't play this year. Tennessee suffered losses during the season to Duke, Rutgers, and LSU, while beating teams which included Stanford and Louisiana Tech. LSU's win over Tennessee gave the Tigers the SEC title, breaking Tennessee's streak of 7 straight. However Tennessee was able to break their streak of four years without a tournament title, by avenging their loss with a 67-65 victory over LSU in the SEC Championship. In the NCAA tournament, Tennessee defeated the Rutgers team which had beaten them earlier in the year to advance to their fourth Final Four in a row. In the Final Four, the Lady Vols fell to Michigan State by a mark of 68-64. Tennessee had led by 16 at one point, but the underdog Spartans made a record-tying come back to advance to the title game. In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Lady Vols defeated Purdue. This victory gave Pat Summitt her 880th win, breaking North Carolina coach Dean Smith's record of 879 wins, making her the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.

2005-06 was Candace Parker's first year as a college athlete. After being redshirted the previous year she was recovered from her injuries and became a starter. During the season, the Lady Vols dropped three games to SEC foes, LSU, Florida, and Kentucky, their worst SEC season since the 1996-97 season. The Lady Vols also suffered a bad loss to Duke. However they won their second straight game against Connecticut and rebounded from the poor SEC season to win the tournament for the second year in a row. In the tournament, Tennessee controversially received a two seed instead of the one seed Summitt believed her team deserved, and in the regional finals played North Carolina. Parker tied Ivory Latta for leading scorer with 20 points, but it wasn't enough. Tennessee trailed from the beginning, falling behind by as many as 16. Late in the second half, the Lady Vols were able to cut the lead down to five, but ultimately fell, 75-63. This loss meant that for the first time in five years Summitt would not be appearing in the Final Four.

Early in the 2006-07 season, Tennessee defeated four ranked teams in a row: UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State, and Middle Tennessee. After Tennessee lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels again, by 13, the Lady Vols defeated a strong Notre Dame team and defeated UConn for the third time in a row. In Knoxville, Summitt's team fell to top-ranked Duke, 74-70, in a game which Duke scored the first nineteen points, with Tennessee not scoring for nearly the first six minutes.. Later, in Baton Rouge, the Lady Vols clinched the SEC title against LSU in a game where Candace Parker scored 27. However in the tournament semifinals, Tennessee fell to the Tigers. In that second game, Parker only scored 4. In the NCAA tournament, Summitt's team easily made it to the Final Four, dispatching teams that included SEC foe Mississippi and 13-seeded Cinderella, Marist, winning each game by at least 14. In the Final Four, Tennessee again faced North Carolina. Despite shooting just 27%, the team came back from a 12 point deficit with 8:18 remaining to win, 56-50. In the championship game against Rutgers, Tennessee finally won its seventh title. Down by 11 at the half, Rutgers mounted a small comeback, taking the lead down to 7 with 13:33, only to have Shannon Bobbitt hit three three-pointers. Rutgers responded with a 7-0 run, cutting the lead down to 8, but Parker hit 6 free throws to ice the win for Tennessee.

The 2007-08 season started off with the top-ranked Lady Vols going 3-0, including wins over 9th-ranked Oklahoma and 22nd-ranked Texas. The win over Texas was Summitt's 950th. After two more wins, #1 Tennessee knocked off fourth-ranked North Carolina, 83-79, in a rematch of a Final Four match-up last year, to advance to 6-0 on the season. Tennessee won their next four games, then headed out to California for a match-up with 5th-ranked Stanford. Down 4 with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Lady Vols managed to tie the game up and send it to overtime, but still lost, 73-69. The Lady Vols responded by winning their next seven games, giving them a 17-1 record going into a match-up with Duke. Candace Parker's 17 points and 12 rebounds, including a bucket with 22 seconds remaining, helped the Lady Vols defeat the Blue Devils for the first time in four years, 67-64. Tennessee would win the rest of their regular season games and defeat LSU for the SEC Tournament Championship. They won four straight games in the NCAA Tournament heading toward their third matchup of the year against the LSU Tigers in the Final Four. Alexis Hornbuckle tipped in a Nicky Anosike missed contested layup with 0.7 seconds left to win the game, 47-46. On April 8, 2008, Tennessee won its second consecutive and eighth of all time national championship against Stanford, 64-48.

Tournament record
Pat Summitt has 14 Southeastern Conference regular season titles with the Lady Vols, as well as 13 tournament titles. Summitt's Lady Vols have made an appearance in every NCAA Tournament, as well as every Sweet 16, and have appeared 18 times in the Final Four. She was also named the Naismith Coach of the Century. When she made her 13th trip to the Final Four as a coach in 2002, she surpassed John Wooden as the NCAA coach with the most trips to the Final Four. Summitt is a 7-time SEC Coach of the year and a 7-time NCAA Coach of the year and has won eight national titles, including three in a row from 1996 to 1998. Summitt is known for scheduling tough opponents for her team to play in the regular season, in order to prepare them for March. In her years of coaching, her teams have played top ten ranked teams over 250 times.

In the 1997–1998 tournament, her team went undefeated the entire season, winning all 30 regular and 9 tournament games, earning Summitt's sixth championship. Some sportswriters considered that year's team the greatest team ever in college women's basketball. This was the third consecutive championship for the Lady Vols, and the third for heralded players Chamique Holdsclaw and Kellie Jolly (now Harper). Holdsclaw was named a consensus All-American, as was freshman Tamika Catchings.

Summitt and the 1996-1997 championship team were the subject of an HBO documentary titled "A Cinderella Season: The Lady Vols Fight Back." That year, the Lady Vols posted just a 23–10 record heading into the NCAA tournament, with two losses to Louisiana Tech, setbacks against national powers Georgia, Stanford and UConn, but also shocking losses to SEC lesser lights Arkansas, Auburn, and LSU (which was 7–20 just two seasons prior and had not yet established itself as a perennial national power). However, Tennessee righted itself during the tournament, shocking previously undefeated UConn in the regional final, 91–81, before defeating Notre Dame and Old Dominion in the Final Four in Cincinnati.

Pat and her Lady Vols are still making new winning records. It's doubtful if her winning record will ever be broken. She makes me proud to be a Tennessean.