"I thought 'Well, something's going on,' " the Lady Vols coach said. "I at least knew that."
More than 20 former players convened on Wednesday to present Summitt with a collection of letters they had written to their coach, detailing her impact on their lives. More than 60 players and seven team managers submitted entries. The project was the brainchild of former Lady Vols star Chamique Holdsclaw, who was looking for a way to organize her thoughts and express herself after Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.
"It's really special that they put this all together,'' Summitt said. "I had no idea. I was like 'Wow.' It just really touched my heart."
Summitt said that letters have been collected into a book-like bound volume with player photos and biographical information. She wasn't surprised that Holdsclaw organized the project.
"We have a great relationship,'' Summitt said. "She's reached out to me in a lot of different ways with my diagnosis and everything. She's been the one who rallied all the troops and had everybody there. The book is unbelievable."
Holdsclaw's relationship with Summitt has helped steer the former four-time All-American through the death of grandmother and a bout with depression.
"Right now, she seems to be the best she's been in a long time,'' Summitt said. "She's in a great place. I'm just so proud of her."
Why Change: When asked whether Alicia Manning would stay in the starting lineup for Sunday's SEC opener at Auburn, UT associate head coach Holly Warlick responded with a question: "Why would we take her out?"
The senior forward made her first start of the season Wednesday, replacing Vicki Baugh. She responded with career highs for rebounds (15) and steals (six) in a 90-37 victory over Old Dominion. She also scored nine points and recorded five assists.
Spani Update: Guard Taber Spani, who didn’t play against Wednesday, sat out Thursday’s practice, resting her sore left knee.
Spani has been wearing a brace on the knee since suffering a sprain and bone bruise in a game at Virginia on Nov. 20.