Commentary

Summitt proud of Warlick, Lady Vols

Updated: April 6, 2013, 9:12 PM ET
By espnW

Once again, Pat Summitt knew best.

As Tennessee won its 17th consecutive SEC regular-season crown, swept the major conference awards and received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, the Lady Vols' head coach emeritus just kept watching the wins and accolades pile up.

"Even though the 'experts' did not pick the Lady Vols to have this level of success, I was not surprised," Summitt told espnW this week. "I'm very proud of Holly, the entire staff and the entire team."

In her first season as head coach, Holly Warlick led Tennessee to its third consecutive (and 26th overall) Elite Eight, where the 2012-13 season ended Tuesday with a loss to Louisville. The Cardinals advanced to the Final Four, and as the women's college basketball world shifts its attention to New Orleans, Summitt paused to offer insight on Sunday's matchups, Brittney Griner and the WNBA draft.

Summitt, who won 1,098 victories over 38 seasons as the Lady Vols' head coach before stepping down in April 2012, is looking forward to both of Sunday's games. Fifth-seeded Louisville plays No. 2 seed California in the first semifinal, followed by the fourth matchup of the season for Big East rivals and No. 1 seeds Connecticut and Notre Dame.

"Rarely do you play a team four times in a season," Summitt said. "Their recent games have been very closely contested, which makes this an intriguing matchup."

Still, the Bears, who are in their first Final Four, and Cardinals, making their second trip to the national semifinals, might be under the most pressure.

"Neither team was picked to make it this deep into the tournament," Summitt said, "and since the winner will advance to the championship, it will be very interesting how these teams will handle the pressure and what is at stake."

After the national champion is determined Tuesday, the WNBA draft will be held only a few days later. Baylor senior Brittney Griner is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick, followed by either Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins or Delaware's Elena Delle Donne.

"I consider Brittney to be one of the most dominating players to ever play the game," Summitt said. "Skylar and Elena are both incredibly talented players and will have great WNBA careers."

What challenges await them at the next level?

"Just like any other player drafted," Summitt said, "it's a huge test to go against the best in the world."

Now that Tennessee's season is in the books, Summitt will continue to promote hers. "Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective," Summitt's memoir released last month, chronicles her coaching career and fight against early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. "Sum It Up" is the No. 4 hardcover nonfiction book on this week's New York Times Best Sellers list.

"The response has been very positive," Summitt said. "I never expected it to be received at such a positive level."

Summitt also devotes much of her time working on the Pat Summitt Foundation, which works to provide grants to nonprofit organizations to help educate, fund research and fight Alzheimer's.

"I work out five days a week. I do brain puzzles every single day," Summitt said. "I enjoy being involved with the Pat Summitt Foundation and the Lady Vol family as well."

Be sure to check out espnW's excerpt of "Sum It Up."

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