I would be amiss if I didn’t say something about the passing of Pat Summitt, the fabulous women’s basketball coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Some might not know it but I am a women’s basketball fan, cutting my teeth watching small college women’s basketball in my home state of Oklahoma, where three of the greatest small college programs in the history of female hoops are located. Southwestern Oklahoma State (Weatherford), Southern Nazarene University (Bethany), and my alma mater, Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma City) are the gold standard in the NAIA with OCU having won a record eight titles, SNU one behind with seven, and SWOSU with five. Of the 36 total National Championships in the NAIA, those three schools have won twenty. For one state to dominate a college sport at a particular level is unheard of. So when I give my recognition of Coach Summit at Tennessee, I come with some knowledge of the women’s game, watching hundreds of contests at the small college level, to go with the many times I have been in the arena to watch the Oklahoma Sooners female team, under Hall-of-Fame head coach Sherri Coale, against the best of the Big 12 Conference and nationally ranked opponents that have visited the Lloyd Noble Arena in Norman.
Pat Summitt passed away today after a sudden downgrade of her illness of early onset dementia (Alzheimer’s) at age 64. The legendary Tennessee coach won eight national championships with the Lady Volunteers with 1,098 wins as a head coach in 38 seasons. She was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
I for one, consider Pat Summitt one of the greatest basketball coaches of All-time, men or women’s game. She was far better than most of our noted staples, and was at the level of John Wooden as a winner. That is the one men’s coach I would compare her to. For what she has accomplished, none better. As for coaching in the women’s game, she was, with question, the best in her profession. Sure some might consider that wonderful coach at UConn as their greatest, but not me. I respect history, and maybe one day, Geno Auriemma will pass her in my rankings. But on this day, in 2016, not on my life. RIP Coach. You were and still are the best there ever was.