Normally, a postgame writeup flows rather naturally. The memory is still fresh enough to replay a reasonable rendition of the game, and the live game thread adds enough to the fine details to put together a reasonable account of the event. Tonight, however, is different. Tonight involves two recaps - each of which are on completely different timescales. There is the obvious recap that the very title of this post reflects, but I will take a cue from Pat Summitt's postgame conference and speak first of the game itself.
TENNESSEE DEFEATS GEORGIA, 73-43
The Lady Vols played what was easily their most complete game of the year, though the opening seconds did not give such an indication. After two failed jump balls, the Lady Bulldogs controlled the tipoff (6'-5" is really, really tall if you're a woman...) and scored the first points of the evening. On the very next possession, Alicia Manning tweaked her knee while pivoting and landing, never to return to the game. But from that point forward, the Lady Vols played a relentless game. A few observations:
- Rebounding! Rebounding is the core of Summitt's coaching philosophy. Rebounding gives extra possessions to a team and is a remarkable measure of the heart and hustle of the team. Tennessee outrebounded Georgia 45-25, including a staggering 18-5 advantage on the offensive glass. These freshmen may be drdiving Summitt nuts, but that is the hallmark of her teams.
- Glory Johnson is a fantastic player. The player of the game finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Georgia never really had an answer for her. She moves with enough quickness to defend the smaller guards on the outside, but with enough control, presence and tenacity to own the middle. (This is the same Lady Vol who effectively broke Courtney Paris's double-double streak against Oklahoma.) She was inside dominance.
- Spread the Wealth. Johnson was not the only double-double, as Alexis Fuller had 13 points and 10 rebounds herself. Fuller's very quick start led the way and broke the trend of sluggish opening minutes that have plagued the Lady Vols this year.
- Passing: Sharp, Fast, Decisive, Accurate. They sure didn't look like a group of freshmen when it came to the offensive side of the court. The passing was very sharp, even through a lot of cross-motion in the paint. They were on the same page all night long.
- Defense: Wow. After five minutes into the second half, Georgia's frustration was clear. They couldn't get any good scoring looks and they couldn't create any mismatches. Tennessee simply outworked them, and the end was obvious to everybody. Andy Landers, the Lady Bulldogs coach, seemed to understand this as he sat idly on the bench and let the inevitable occur.
The Lady Vols just played a game in front of a home crowd expecting history. The shiny round number loomed large, certainly in every mind, yet they remained focused and enver flinched. Can they take this forward? Can they use this experience to compensate for the lack of playing time that only comes with years? We shall see. But know this: these Lady Vols are going to be another legendary Summitt team before they're done.
And now, on to the other storyline:
Let's put Pat Summitt into perspective - or at least, let's try.
- First win: 69-32 over Middle Tennessee State on January 10, 1975 Does that sound like a long time ago? Put that next to the active leader for win's in men's college basketball: Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke notched his first win in 1975 as well as head coach of Army. Since then, Coach K has racked up 803 wins in an absolutely stellar career. Pat Summitt has 1,000.
- Number of Sweet Sixteens missed: ZERO The NCAA held its first women's tournament in 1982. Pat Summitt has coached in the second weekend in every single one.
- Eight National Titles
- 14 SEC Regular Season Championships
- 13 SEC Tournament Championships
- Naismith Coach of the 20th Century
- 7-Time NCAA Coach of the Year
- 7-Time SEC Coach of the Year
- 0.843 Career Winning Percentage
- Winning Record in Every Season
- 100% Career Graduation Rate
There's a reason that the first star in the Riverwalk belongs to Pat Summitt. There's a reason that the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is in Knoxville, Tennessee. It all has to do with a lady who was born in Clarksville, Tennesse. A lady who lived to please her father and do right by this worls. A lady who loved basketball enough to take on coaching at a pittance of a salary at the University of Tennessee at the age of 22 to live her dream.
A lady who doesn't quit on anybody, and who never lets her players quit.
Tonight was her night. For all she's given to Tennesee and the Lady Vols fans, it was only right that she should have a special night to celebrate her hard work and remarkable success with her team, her staff, her family, and her fans. And with that, the only thing left to say is...