It doesn't get much closer than that.
Nobody ever said that getting 1,000 career wins would be an easy task, and Pat Summitt would surely agree. One thing about turning over your entire starting lineup and relying heavily on a bunch of freshmen to uphold the winning tradition of one of the greatest-ever sports dynasties is that you're going to have some road bumps. Here's a road bump:
- Trailing by 2 points.
- With less than 10 seconds left.
- With a team that's shooting 35% field goals.
- And 20% from three-point range.
- And 51% free throws.
- With one of the night's only bright spots sidelined with an ankle injury.
That was the point in time when Angie Bjorlund - officially the Mad Bomber - found her range and made her only 3-point shot on the night. With the one-point lead, the Lady Vols held the Lady Rebels off and left The Summitt with win #999 for Pat Summitt.
Nobody ever minds taking a win, but the ugliness of this one will leave the girls with some intense practice sessions in the very, very near future. With one minute left, the Lady Vols trailed 59-55. With 21 seconds left, Angie Bjorklund was guilty of a foul that could very well have allowed the Lady Rebels to extend the lead to 4 points. Fortunately, that was one of the free throws that the 70%-free-throw-shooting Rebels missed on the night, with the rebound going to Tennessee. And the rest is history.
And history is next week.
On Monday, the Lady Vols will play at #2 Oklahoma, in a game that will be extremely difficult to win. If they do pull off the upset (side note: how often are the Lady Vols the underdogs?), Pat Summitt will be the first women's basketball coach with a 4-digit career win total (and the first in 1-A basketball for either gender, I believe). As much as I would have liked tonight to be the potential #1,000, I will be more than happy to have the Lady Vols come back to Knoxville with the big shiny round number on Tuesday. If that happens, you can bet I'll be at the game on Thursday against Georgia to see the ceremony.
If the Lady Vols lose to Oklahoma, you can bet I'll be at TBA on Thursday to (hopefully) see #1000 live.
Men's sports may get all the attention, and those who are used to the athleticism of men's hoops may not care for the different action in a women's game, but we can all appreciate the career of a legend. Details will come.