One Isn’t Quite The Loneliest Number ………….
It probably hasn’t gone unnoticed by many of you. But recently the Lady Vols of Tennessee and their coach Pat Summitt sits on the cusp of winning 1,000 games in women’s collegiate basketball. Summitt easily the most successful coach in women’s college basketball . In the women’s game she has been the quintessential individual who everyone else is judged by when it comes to the game.
A disheartened Summitt looks deep in thought after her team’s loss 80-70 to Oaklahoma in Oklahoma City, OK. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Sue Ogrocki ………….
We’ve had John Wooden the coach of the heralded UCLA Bruins whose records bear no introduction. The program is the pedestal against which all in men’s basketball hopes to aspire to. However when it comes to the women’s game. It has to be said the achievements of Summitt and the University of Tennessee is simply astonishing. No other program even comes close . OK so Geno Auriemma and the University of Connecticut (Huskies) may well think that his program is equal to that of the Vols. But when I look at Auriemma I tend to see a guy who thinks so highly of himself that he tends to forget where comes from.
Sooners’ fans acknowledge Summitt’s attempt at making history but they also acknowledge Sooners’ coach Sherri Coales’ attempt
at winning her 273rd game . picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Sue Ogrocki …………..
His Huskies have been very good over the time of his tenure. But he’s yet to reach the heights that Summitt has reached. He may well bark louder than most. But his bite has been nothing more than that of a puppy.
For Summitt this’ll be an extraordinary achievement when she reaches that unprecedented height. No other coach within the collegiate game has ever won 1,000 games. Not only does it say something about longevity but also the very fact that much of this has been achieved with the Volunteers’ program. She may well have failed when the Lady Vols succumbed to Oklahoma. But there’s every reason to believe that when they face Georgia tonight. This may well be the game where this magnificent achievement will take place.
It has been said that were Summitt a male she’d be coaching in the men’s ranks. That may well be the case. But with the glass ceiling still in existence . It’s unlikely that we’d ever come to see the day where a female will be coaching a men’s team at the collegiate level much less in the NBA. And that’s not said as a disservice to the abilities of Pat Summitt. But I for one believe the NCAA much less the NBA is yet ready for such a distinction. It’s still the old boys’ network in many a case. And they make what has taken place when it came to minorities within their midst either as players or coaches much more than an egregious error. Hell were it not for UTEP’s victory over Kentucky in the mid sixties the face of college basketball much less the NBA wouldn’t have seen such a seismic shift.
But it’s as they say good things’ll come to those who wait. I know that we now have the existence of the WNBA as a basis for the professional game for women. But as to its competitive nature it pales into significance when measured against that of the NBA.
As for Summitt the road traveled for her has been one filled with success. And much of it has been appreciated by the alumni , fans, and the public in general. They’ve seen the highs and lows with the program and its teams. Thankfully their highs have far exceeded the lows under Summitt’s tenure. The eight national championships won under her tenure are a record. With her closest rival being the five won by Auriemma with the Connecticut Huskies. Obviously atop of all this in collegiate basketball world stands John Wooden’s 10 titles won over his tenure with the storied UCLA Bruins. John Wooden is still beloved by all and his significance to the men’s game is without doubt indelible. The same can be said of Summitt’s mark on the women’s game as well.
This year it may well be viewed that there’s a chink in the program’s armour as they’ve struggled somewhat to avail themselves of wins. But within the SEC they sit at (5-2) fifth within the conference and 17-5 overall with a number 17 ranking nationally. You’d be somewhat foolish to think that the program is declining. If nothing else it’s that we know that Pat Summitt knows how to motivate her players and bring out the best in them. They may well struggle this season but it won’t be for the lack of effort on their part or that of their coach. Her determination is that of her players and they’ll reciprocate accordingly with their effort on the court.
So as we await this landmark that will probably remain unbroken. It says much as to the esteem with which Pat Summit is held with the collegiate game of basketball. No one else has perhaps personified what the game has been about better than her when it comes to women’s basketball. A feeling long held by many.