Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Tennesseean Hotel opens Pat Summitt Suite to benefit iconic coach’s foundation

The Tennesseean Personal Luxury Hotel has officially dedicated the Pat Summitt Suite to honor the iconic coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols and raise funds for The Pat Summitt Foundation.

“The Pat Summitt Suite is an enduring tribute to a legendary leader,” said Nicholas G. Cazana, innkeeper at the AAA Four Diamond-rated The Tennesseean Personal Luxury Hotel. “We wanted to honor the late Pat Summitt in a way that would be lasting and appropriate for an iconic coach and native Tennessean who did so much for Knoxville and the University of Tennessee.”

Summitt coached the Lady Vols basketball team for 38 years and won 1,098 games and eight national titles with a graduation rate of 100 percent. After her diagnosis in 2011 of early onset dementia, Summitt and her son, Tyler Summitt, formed The Pat Summitt Foundation to raise funds to support Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers, and clinical research. Pat Summitt died June 28, 2016, at the age of 64, and her foundation continues the fight to find a cure.

A portion of all room rates from the suite will be donated to The Pat Summitt Foundation. The Tennesseean is located at 531 Henley St., alongside World’s Fair Park and within walking distance of the UT campus.

Patrick Wade, executive director of the foundation, thanked The Tennessean for the high-profile partnership in downtown Knoxville.

“We are grateful to The Tennesseean for creating the Pat Summitt Suite and joining our efforts to help Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, and to advance clinical research,” Wade said. “A partnership like this not only raises awareness, but also allows visitors to the hotel and the Knoxville area to become even more acquainted with the foundation and Pat’s legacy in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.”

Among those in attendance for the official opening were former Lady Vols, including Shelley Sexton Collier, who spoke at the event, members of the current Lady Vol coaching staff, UT representatives, community leaders and elected officials.

“I am grateful to be here to both see this suite in person and honor my coach,” said Sexton Collier, the captain of Summitt’s first national title team in 1987 and the Lady Spartans head basketball coach at Webb School of Knoxville, where she has won six state championships. “Pat’s influence guides my thoughts and actions to this day. I hope everyone who stays in this suite will leave with an appreciation of how special Pat Summitt truly was and how she continues to make a significant impact on the lives of others.”

Heather King, who designed The Pat Summitt Clinic at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, also handled the interior design of the suite.

Design features of the suite include:

• Natural wood elements in the chandelier, lamps, living room sofa and side chair to represent a wooden basketball court.
• Large wall graphic at suite entry outlining Summitt’s basketball accomplishments.
• Living room sofa upholstered in fabric from Luna Textiles, which also is used in The Pat Summitt Clinic. Luna Textiles founder and creator Anna Hernandez lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease on Oct. 30, 2016, at the age of 56.
• Sofa tufting on seat and back reminiscent of a basketball goal net with orange and white fabric.
• Graphic element outlining Summitt’s “Definite Dozen” rules for success.
• Images from her esteemed coaching career.
The announcement of the Pat Summitt Suite coincides with World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) in September to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.
“Pat Summitt was a Tennessean to the core, and her death from Alzheimer’s disease affected all of us,” Cazana said. “By opening this suite, we can participate in efforts to raise research funds for a disease that has devastated far too many families.”

For more information about The Tennesseean and to make reservations, visit http://www.thetennesseanhotel.com or call 865-232-1800.

About The Tennesseean Personal Luxury Hotel and Residences

The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel and Residences is a luxurious urban retreat with a staff dedicated to exceeding expectations; dramatic city, mountain and park views; and an atmosphere perfectly blending Southern hospitality and contemporary flair. THE TENNESSEAN comprises a AAA Four Diamond-rated, 82-room and suite hotel and 12 upper-bracket residences. Its elegant Drawing Room lounge offers fine spirits, handcrafted cocktails and fresh, seasonal small plates and sweet bites. The hotel was named No. 1 on Southern Living’s The South’s Best Hotels 2018 list.

For more information, visit http://www.thetennesseanhotel.com.

Press release provided by Moxley Carmichael

Photos: Ben Finch Photography

Refreshed Ogwumike leading National Team into World Cup competition

Nneka Ogwumike motions for a teammate to set up the play. USA Basketball photo.
Nneka Ogwumike motions for a teammate to set up the play. USA Basketball photo.
Nneka Ogwumike motions for a teammate to set up the play. USA Basketball photo.

As the National Team worked through practices and scrimmages the last few weeks, in preparation for FIBA World Cup competition, a veritable rookie held court.

Nneka Ogwumike conducted team huddles, took aside teammates for a few words, and directed traffic during play. And though she was named to just her second World Cup roster last week, when the team was announced, the 28-year-old forward with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks is already a giant to her peers.

“She has a great basketball IQ,” two-time Olympian Tina Charles said of Ogwumike. “Her being in the (WNBA) Finals multiple times, her being in those game-like situations, experiences that I’ve never had, everyone just looks toward her.”

The former Stanford great was drafted No. 1 in 2012, won the WNBA regular-season MVP award in 2016 and helped guide the Sparks to two consecutive Finals appearances, winning one Championship. Team USA coach Dawn Staley said Ogwumike’s leadership with the National Team has been exemplary, and praised her ability to connect with and mentor the younger players through the entire camp.

Ogwumike said the pace of her professional life has made for a lot of learning in a relatively short period of time.

Nneka Ogwumike looks for a passing option. Photo by Chris Poss.
Nneka Ogwumike looks for a passing option. Photo by Chris Poss.

“I’ve been playing overseas for 12 months for seven years now, so it’s 12 months of year-round play, year-round professional experience,” Ogwumike said. “In the WNBA, we know how it goes.”

The fact that Ogwumike, who hasn’t competed in the Olympics, made her first World Cup roster this year, is chocked with irony.

She was MVP the same year Los Angeles won the title, at a time she was playing some of the best basketball of her life. But when the Olympic team was named that summer, Ogwumike was not on the list. She had helped the USA win the 2014 World Cup, but on an Olympic roster stacked with veteran talent, Ogwumike was left out.

This year Ogwumike and Charles, who is 29, are among the squad’s veterans, along with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. As the U.S. is set to open tournament play today against Senegal in Tenerife, Spain, the goal is no less than gold.

“It’s great, I think this year we’re developing a lot of people,” Ogwumike said. “We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, so we have to do what we can to get the chemistry going.”

Unlike two years ago, 2018 was the most difficult season of Ogwumike’s professional life.

She missed several games for the Sparks, as well as the All-Star game, midseason after being diagnosed with mononucleosis, which sapped her strength. And playing a schedule that had been compressed to make up for these FIBA games, the Los Angeles team sputtered.

Picked to win the Championship, the Sparks stumbled without Ogwumike after a 9-2 start, and lost five straight home games for the first time in 11 years. Los Angeles seemed particularly effected by the travel schedule, which saw teams throughout the league criss-crossing the nation to play as many as four games in a week. Practice time was sparse, and teams had to find chemistry on the fly.

The Sparks fought until the end to grab a playoff spot, and defeated the defending champion Minnesota Lynx in the first round to lose to the Washington Mystics in the second.

Just a week after the quick exit, it was back to the courts for Ogwumike. But despite the lack of downtime, she said the camp was rejuvenating, both on and off the court.

Nneka Ogwumike shoots a free throw. Photo by Chris Poss.
Nneka Ogwumike shoots a free throw. Photo by Chris Poss.

“I’m not the type of player that wants to play 40 minutes or that has to play 35 minutes,” she said. “I love that I can come out here and go as hard as I can, and then we can have so many different combinations of people that can go out and play, because I mean that’s what USA is all about, and I’m hoping that a lot of players understand that.”

Ogwumike said being with a new group gives her a chance to reboot.

“The travel is always going to be there, but it’s nice to travel with a new team,” she said. “I’m also excited about the international competition, especially with what we see as a new squad this year.”

The U.S. tips off against Sengeal Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

Sue Favor contributed to this report

MVP Breanna Stewart exceptional, with room to grow

2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart had a dominating season. Neil Enns/Storm Photos.
2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart had a dominating season. Neil Enns/Storm Photos.
2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart had a dominating season. Neil Enns/Storm Photos.

About halfway through the season, the serenading chants for third-year Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart began.

“MVP! MVP!” home crowd fans screamed at KeyArena.

Then three weeks ago, as the Storm entered the playoffs, the prophecy came true and Stewart was named the WNBA’s regular-season Most Valuable Player the day before her 24th birthday.

If the honor wasn’t surprising, it is noteworthy, because Stewart still has so much more room in which she can improve her game.

Her scoring production was up more than three points this year from last (21.8 per outing), on improved field goal percentage from both the two- and three-point line. Stewart shot 52.9 percent, up from 47.5, from two and 41.5 percent from behind the arc – an improvement of four percent.

She also beefed up her skill set, as her improved low post moves were on display this season, and she added a hook jump shot that is veritably unguardable with her 7-1 wingspan. Stewart is a hard worker on the floor who has a lot of patience, especially for a younger player.

But even more striking than her statistics and new moves in 2018 was Stewart’s approach to the game: she was aggressive, assertive and confident, and played in attack mode regardless of the opponent.

“For somebody who consistently has presence and consistency, (who) wants the ball and consistently is winning your team basketball games, that’s an MVP,” veteran point guard Sue Bird said after Seattle beat Washington in Finals Game 2, led by 25 points from Stewart.

“Stewie obviously showed that tonight, but in all honesty, she’s been showing it all season,” Bird said. “This wasn’t new.”

Stewart’s career statistics so far are reminiscent of Storm great Lauren Jackson, who was also drafted No. 1 and won the MVP award in her third season. Jackson began to dominate with increased shooting acumen, diverse skills and frequent game takeovers, which won her the Most Valuable honor twice more before injuries forced her into retirement.

Like a young Jackson, Stewart needs to be physically stronger and more aggressive on defense. If she drove up the middle and took the extra dribble before shooting rather than pulling up for the jumper, she would score more. And if she posted up often and perfected her sky hook, she would be unstoppable.

Once Stewart masters consistency and eliminates small game lapses, she will become more like Jackson, who made torching the scoreboard seem effortless as she unleashed onslaughts of buckets.

Stewart – who won Finals MVP, as well – also showed this year that she can be a floor leader. Though Seattle is still Bird’s team for now, it will be in Stewart’s capable hands when Bird retires sometime in the next five years.

Whether or not the Storm have hatched a dynasty, as some have suggested, remains to be seen. But Stewart’s impending greatness is written all over the wall.

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