Tennessee Moments of the Decade #8: Pat Summitt and The Road to 1000 Wins


We'll cover the Lady Vols' back-to-back National Championships in 2007 and 2008 later on in our countdown...but the additional accomplishments of Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols in the last ten years are still incredibly impressive.  We've grown so accustomed to success from a program where disappointment is not making the Final Four, it becomes easy to take them for granted.  But how many other women's basketball programs would kill for the achievements of the Ladies this decade, even if we remove the two titles from the equation?  Consider:

  • Six SEC Championships, including five straight from 2000-2004.  SEC Women's Basketball has become increasingly competitive, with Georgia, LSU and Auburn also winning conference titles this decade (LSU was also bounced from five straight Final Fours).  But the Lady Vols are still the standard.
  • Four SEC Tournament Championships, winning in 2000, 2005, 2006 and 2008.  Some of the Lady Vols' most talented teams in the early part of the decade really struggled in the SEC Tournament, but it should be noted that all-time, Tennessee has won more than twice as many SEC regular season and tournament championships than any other school in the conference.
  • Six Final Fours.  The first half of the decade is perhaps the greatest example of the standard of excellence this program holds:  the Lady Vols made the Final Four in four of the first five years of the decade...and each time, were beaten by UConn.  The losses - two in the semifinals, two in the national championship game - were very frustrating, especially because in those years there were times the Ladies beat UConn in the regular season.  But being that frustrated with losses in consecutive Final Fours shows how high the bar is set in Knoxville.
  • Eight First Team All-SEC Players:  Tamika Catchings, Semeka Randall, Kara Lawson, Gwen Jackson, Michelle Snow, Shyra Ely, Shanna Zolman and Candace Parker each wrote their names into the Lady Vol history books; Lawson and Parker achieved this honor every year of their college careers.
  • 1,000 Wins:  At the top of the list is Summitt herself, who continues to write her own record book as the coach with more wins than any other.  It was interesting that Summitt's 1,000th win came in the season the Lady Vols struggled the most, getting knocked out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season, failing to make the Sweet 16 for the first time in the history of the program.  But knowing Summitt, this "low point" will be the foundation for even more success in the next decade.
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