Pat Summitt steps down as Vols coach


Pat Summitt steps down as Vols coach

From Comcast SportsNetPat Summitt, the winningest coach in college basketball history, is stepping down from her position with the Tennessee Lady Vols, less than eight months after revealing she had early onset dementia."I've loved being the head coach at Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognize that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role," the 59-year-old Hall of Famer said Wednesday in a statement issued by the school.Longtime assistant Holly Warlick will take over for Summitt, who will become head coach emeritus.A news conference is scheduled Thursday afternoon at the school in Knoxville.When the Lady Vols lost in a regional final to eventual national champion Baylor, Warlick's tears were a telltale sign of how draining the season had been and also that it likely was Summitt's last game after 38 years at the school."She is an icon who does not view herself in that light, and her legacy is well-defined and everlasting," athletic director Dave Hart said. "Just like there will never be another John Wooden, there will never be another Pat Summitt. I look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role. She is an inspiration to everyone."Summitt will report to Hart in her new role while assisting the program she guided to eight national titles since taking over in 1974."I would like to emphasize that I fully intend to continue working as head coach emeritus, mentoring and teaching life skills to our players, and I will continue my active role as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund," she said.Warlick, a three-time All-American who played for Summitt, was her assistant for 27 years.Hart said he watched Warlick grow tremendously this season under what he called "unique circumstances" and that she is deserving of the head job."Her mentor will be available for insight and advice, but this is Holly's team now," Hart said.Warlick said she was thankful for all Summitt has done in preparing her for this opportunity as her coach, mentor and friend."We will work as hard as we possibly can with the goal of hanging more banners in Thompson-Boling Arena," Warlick said.Last season, while Summitt devoted more attention to her health, Warlick took the lead during games and handled postgame interviews, while the entire staff handled the bulk of the recruiting and management of practices. Even so, Summitt still managed to put on her trademark icy stare a time or two during the tournament.Summitt's diagnosis came during one of the Lady Vols' most disappointing stretches -- by Summitt's lofty standards, anyway. Tennessee hasn't won a national championship since 2008 and hasn't even reached the Final Four, which ties for its longest such drought in program history.Tennessee's five seniors were part of the team that lost in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament, the only time in school history the Lady Vols had bowed out on the first weekend.Those seniors promised they would win a ninth national championship this season -- not just for Summitt, but as center Vicki Baugh put it, "We're playing for everyone who has Alzheimer's."But they couldn't make it back to the Final Four, losing to Baylor and Brittney Griner, a player Summitt couldn't convince to come to Knoxville.Summitt's career ends with a 1,098-208 record, 16 regular-season Southeastern Conference championships and 16 SEC tournament titles. She also led the 1984 Olympic team to a gold medal.During her time, Tennessee never failed to reach the NCAA tournament, never received a seed lower than No. 5 and reached 18 Final Fours.Her impact reaches beyond wins and losses. Every Lady Vol player who has completed her eligibility at Tennessee has graduated, and 74 former players, assistants, graduate assistants, team managers and directors of basketball operations are currently among the coaching ranks at every level of basketball.

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all.