Monday, July 16, 2018
Page 770

Finally, the Rutgers freshmen speak

April Sykes, Brooklyn Pope, Nikki Speed and Chelsey Lee share what it’s been like adjusting to a big-time D1 program from high school – including, “I could still be on the beach. You know that, right?”

On the verge of “a cool grand,” Summitt reflects

It’s always nice to read about Coach Pat Summitt, but some stories are especially excellent, like the one from Check this:

“It’s an amazing number, is it?” she said.

The thing she recalled most vividly about that first loss was calling her father, Richard, after the game.

She was 22 years old and uncertain about this coaching thing. He was a Tennessee dairy farmer who didn’t take kindly to losing.

“He was a very stern, very competitive man,” Summitt said Tuesday from her office. “I was scared to call home. Mom answered and she never even asked about the game. She probably forgot we were playing.

“I said, ‘Mom, is Dad there?’

“He picked up the phone and said, ‘All right.’ I never heard him say hello. He said, ‘Did you win?’

“ ‘No sir.’

“There was a long pause. I mean a looong pause. I was nervous. And finally he said, ‘Well, you need to learn one thing. You don’t take a donkey to the Kentucky Derby.’ ”

She laughed at the retelling.

“He was telling me you better get yourself some players,” she said. “And let me tell you something; he was right about that.”

Summitt, 56, said she never has been much for numbers or records or things like that. She likes NCAA championships, and the record eight she’s won at UT through the years is the ultimate goal.

She’s more concerned with getting the most out of her current team, which after consecutive NCAA titles is young and, by UT standards, rebuilding. The Lady Vols are 16-4.

“I was joking with [the team that] I just hope we get [the 1,000th victory] this year,” Summitt laughed.

One more victory will happen, and even for someone unconcerned about career numbers, Summitt can’t brush off the magnitude of a cool grand.

She said she’s spent more time in recent weeks looking at the pictures of all her All-Americans and the 18 NCAA Final Four teams and even some of the less decorated athletes that fought so hard for her.

“I think about all the players who wore the orange uniform and made a commitment to winning,” she said.

She’s spent 35 years bringing the best recruits from across the country to the edge of the Smoky Mountains, and that’s the key to all these victories. She never had a team full of donkeys, she said.


Kay Yow speaks at her own funeral

Just watch these two videos in their entirety:

The first is a video Yow made several weeks ago for the purposes of being read at her own funeral. In it, she describes the importance of Christianity in her life, and reads a poem she wrote that was inspired by her faith.

Equally moving is the video immediately following – a tribute to Yow that includes lots of footage from times past. It reminds us all of the place she had in building up the women’s game to where it is today, and how strong she was throughout her battle with cancer; truly inspirational.

Great piece in today’s Charlotte Observer:

May Coach Yow’s legacy live on.

Sparks trade Christi Thomas for Vanessa Hayden

This just in on STH’s email:


LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles Sparks have traded center Christi Thomas to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for center Vanessa Hayden it was announced today. Drafted 12th overall in the 2004 Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, Thomas has played in 144 games and averaged 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in five seasons. Sidelined by a knee injury mid-way through the 2008 season, Thomas played in 20 games averaging 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

Hayden, drafted 7th overall in the 2004 Draft by the Lynx, is a four-year veteran and graduate of the University of Florida. She comes to the Sparks after playing in 30 games in 2008 and averaging 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Hayden sat out the 2007 season to give birth to her daughter, Zyon Brianna Johnson on June 3, 2007. Her most successful season came in 2005 when she started 25 of 31 games and averaged 7.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. For her career she is averaging 6.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

“We are incredibly happy to be adding a player of Vanessa’s size and talent to our roster. She is an extremely athletic and physical player that will really add to our presence in the post,” said Sparks Head Coach Michael Cooper.

The Sparks open the 2009 season at the STAPLES Center June 6th against the Defending Champion Detroit Shock on ABC at 11:30am. For more information on Sparks single-game tickets or one of the affordable full and partial season ticket plans, visit or call 877-44-SPARKS.

This is good. Nothing personal against Thomas, but she became pretty useless this past summer, and that was before her injury. (Though maybe that has more to do with Cooper, who some have said is too laid-back a coach – I don’t know).

And Minnesota is wheeling and dealing today….from

The Minnesota Lynx traded Lindsey Harding, their second-round draft picks in 2009 (23rd overall) and 2010 to the Washington Mystics for their first-round (ninth overall) and second round (15th overall) draft picks in the 2009 draft.

LA Southern Section championships to be hosted at #1-ranked school

Girl’s basketball: Mater Dei to host championship games

With the Pyramid in Long Beach unavailable, Santa Ana Mater Dei will be the site for the Southern Section girls’ championship games on March 6 and 7.

That could set the stage for a rare situation, where Mater Dei’s heavily favored girls’ team gets to play a home game for the Division II-A championship.

“It was the best venue to take care of the girls’ and CIF needs,” Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons said.

The good news is that Mater Dei won’t be charging for parking. The same can’t be said for Ontario Colony, which will host lower-division boys’ finals and possibly some girls’ finals and charge $4 for parking. It’s a fundraiser for the school.

But that’s mere change compared to the boys’ finals at the Honda Center, which will charge $12 parking. Sorry, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for those who make people pay for parking at a high school sporting event.

— Eric Sondheimer


I agree with many of the comments below this piece. The championships should be at a neutral site. There are plenty of them in this huge area. The CIF is lame.

Thursday night lights

Shekinna Stricklen hugs Angie Bjorklund after her last-second 3 won the game for the Lady Vols, 60-59 over Mississippi.

I didn’t think I had much to worry about tonight with Tennessee hosting Mississippi, but I should have learned from previous games this season. The last minute of the game just about put me into cardiac arrest. But somehow, once Alex Fuller got that rebound, a calm settled over me. I knew they’d be OK.

Bjorklund’s three-pointer was so pretty. If I were at home I would have yelled, as usual, but I was in the gym sitting on a bike that I had grabbed for dear life. When the ball swished through the net I started saying thankyougodthankyouuniverseohmylord. And the guy next to me started a conversation. I’ve had more sports bonding moments in the gym with men over basketball games; it’s really funny.

Pat Summitt: 999 wins! She’s almost there.

I love these play-by-play logs:

Florida State (20) beat Duke (6) 82-75.

And in the most surprising game of the night, unranked Georgia defeated fourth-ranked Auburn 67-58. Previously, the Tigers had been unbeaten.

UCLA put up a valiant fight for the first three-quarters of the game against Cal tonight before the Bears began to slip away. I was really impressed with the scrappy play of the Bruins. They are getting better with each game.

For the next two nights, I’m attending high school games. More later.

College games galore

I’ve said it before, but pretty soon every college game will be webcast, at the very least. In the meantime, we’re getting there.

Tonight’s games on ESPN360 are:

Kentucky vs. Florida, 7 p.m. EST
Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt, 9 p.m. EST

Other webcasts:

UCLA @ Cal, 7 p.m. PST @
USC @ Stanford, 7 p.m. PST @
Ole Miss @ Tennessee, 7 p.m. EST on ESPNU and audio at


Iowa vs. Michigan State, 7 p.m. EST
Ohio State vs. Michigan, 7 p.m. EST
Penn State vs. Indiana, 7 p.m. EST
Purdue vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m. EST


Team dealing with Yow’s death

The “Wolfpack” is still absorbing the loss of longtime Coach Kay Yow, who died Saturday after a 22-year battle with breast cancer. Tonight they play their first game, against Boston College, since her death. Tomorrow is Yow’s funeral and Saturday, she will be buried.

This part will bring tears to your eyes:

To listen to Glance, memories of the players’ last visit with Yow will linger for a long time. The coaching staff had visited Yow often in the hospital — she was admitted the week before her death—and wanted to prepare the players for seeing her frail, weakened and bedridden.

Instead, when the players arrived with a custom-made teddy bear as a gift, Yow was sitting in a chair, alert and eager for the visit filled with jokes, smiles and tears.

“The room was full of energy,” Bell said. “I told some of my teammates the other day she looked full of life. It was her. It was coach Yow, the normal coach Yow.”

Glance called it Yow’s “last gift to the team.”

“She had to have mustered up every bit of energy she had left,” she said.


USA Today: Pat Summitt at 998 wins

Nice piece on Her Majesty:


When Pat Summitt became women’s basketball coach at Tennessee in 1974, she was 22 and Title IX was 2.
Not that she had a clue the legislation and her career would help revolutionize women’s sports.

Nor did she have designs on collecting NCAA titles. The NCAA was seven years away from taking control of women’s sports from the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

Nor did she have any notion of getting rich.

Her concerns were basic: “I was trying to figure out how to organize a practice.”


Leon Barmore, a Hall of Fame coach for his work at Louisiana Tech and now an assistant at Baylor, equates Summitt to men’s coach John Wooden, who won 10 titles at UCLA.

“She’s the best of our game. There’s nothing in the game she can’t do. She can administrate, coach x’s and o’s and motivate.”

And not just players. “I’ve said it before: she made my career,” Barmore says. “Me playing against Pat Summitt, she gave me that person and program that made me reach deeper than I ever thought I could reach, if I was going to play them. I really compliment that now.”


Summitt’s confrontations now are informed challenges. Tennessee players take personality tests and meet with a sports psychologist so Summitt knows what buttons to push. “We didn’t take any personality tests,” says Warlick, one of the 70 former Summitt players, assistants or managers who have gone into coaching.

Summitt wants every edge, psychological, physical or tactical.

Smart woman. Now if the Baby Vols could get it together and get those two more wins for her……

LA Times high school rankings

Top 25 as of yesterday, by Melissa Rohlin:

1. Mater Dei (21-0)
2. Brea Olinda (18-2)
3. Cajon (18-1)
4. Long Beach Poly (16-2)
5. Foothill (17-1)
6. Troy (17-1)
7. Millikan (18-2)
8. Bell-Jeff (20-1)
9. Woodbridge (18-2)
10. Summit (16-4)
11. Inglewood (6-14)
12. Santa Monica (14-5)
13. Colony (14-2)
14. Etiwanda (13-6)
15. Chatsworth (11-6)
16. Muir (13-3)
17. Canyon Springs (13-6)
18. Corona Santiago (14-6)
19. Orange Lutheran (15-2)
20. Pacific Hills (12-9)
21. Santa Maria St. Joseph (17-1)
22. Santa Margarita (11-8)
23. Beverly Hills (16-6)
24. Vista del Lago (16-2)
25. Agoura (18-2)

Congratulations to Charles Solomon, whose team is ranked 23rd. Way to go, Charles.

And thanks to a reader, I’ve been made aware of a great afternoon tournament Feb. 6 at Mater Dei:

3 p.m. – Dana Hills vs. St Paul
4:30 p.m. – Santa Margarita vs. Villa Park
6 p.m. – Foothill vs. Long Beach Wilson
7:30 p.m. – Cajon vs. Mater Dei

It is the first of a two-day Nike Extravaganza Tournament.

I’ve wanted to see Foothill, Mater Dei and Santa Margarita for the longest. Mater Dei is the only undefeated team left, and I’ve heard great things about Foothill.

I will have to beat it out of school the second the bell rings and get on the road before traffic gets too bad. I’m excited!

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