One of my top five Lady Vols games is the national semi-final of 2007. Tennessee vs North Carolina. Candace Parker vs Ivory Latta. A highly anticipated rematch between two giants of the women's game.
And yet, for 32 minutes it was one of the ugliest games ever played. One writer called it "basketball unfit for a Final Four." For Tennessee, it was even uglier, because with 8:18 left in the game, the Lady Vols trailed by twelve, 48-36.
Enter, first, Pat Summitt. According to legend, which could be apocyphal, she called a time-out and yelled at her team "we did NOT come this far to lose this game! We are going home with a CHAMPIONSHIP!"
Then she threw her clipboard at the floor -- and broke it in two.
Next, the staff told the players, "If you can get seven stops, you can win." The Lady Vols increased their determination, upped their defensive pressure, and began their comeback. Every time they got a stop, the sideline would call out the count. "One! Two! Three!"
From that time-out to the end of the game, North Carolina scored 2 points. Two.
And Tennessee won, 56-50.
My reason for writing about this tonight is not to bring up old memories to taunt us, or to console us. Nor is it to rub salt in anyone's wounds, be it coach, player, or fan.
No, my reason for telling this story is to ask some simple questions:
- Can we imagine HCHW doing this?
- Can we imagine the current team doing this?
- And if the answer to either or both is No, then how can that be changed?
I'll hang up and take my answer off the air. Thanks.