Pat Summitt honored at Toledo-Marquette game

FILE -- MARCH 24, 2012: Pat Summitt, Tennessee Lady Volunteers head coach, gestures at an official during the first half of the Tennessee vs Kansas NCAA Women's Regional game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA on Saturday, March 24, 2012. (Kyle Ocker/Icon SMI)

Photo by Kyle Ocker/Icon SMI, Copyright 2012 CENTERVILLE DAILY IOWEGIAN

FILE -- MARCH 24, 2012: Pat Summitt, Tennessee Lady Volunteers head coach, gestures at an official during the first half of the Tennessee vs Kansas NCAA Women's Regional game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA on Saturday, March 24, 2012. (Kyle Ocker/Icon SMI)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — They stood and cheered once again for legendary coach Pat Summitt at a women's college basketball game Saturday night.

This time, it was not for a victory, but her ongoing fight against Alzheimer's disease, which forced her to step down as Tennessee head coach last year after 38 years in which she had more victories than any other NCAA coach, male or female — 1,098.

"It's a special night to have my son here and to have everybody backin' Pat," Summitt said at halftime of the game in which Toledo beat Marquette 82-71.

Her son, Tyler, is a Marquette assistant

"I thank all of you for being here. There are so many wonderful fans and friends, and we really appreciate all of you," Summitt said.

Tennessee orange was scattered throughout the Al McGuire Center, but more people were wearing white "We Back Pat" T-shirts. Fans bought them to support the Pat Summitt Foundation she founded to fight Alzheimer's.

Tyler thanked the crowd of 1,441 and mentioned a family ideal that explains why she is fighting the disease so hard.

"A saying in our household is 'It is what it is, but it will be what you make it,' " he said.

The Summitts exited the court to cheers and cries of "We love you Pat!" Before the game, Summitt posed for pictures and signed autographs.

Marquette women's coach Terri Mitchell, who made her coaching debut against Tennessee in 1996, a season in which Summitt won one of her eight national championships, said Summitt was key to the rise of women's college basketball.

"She has meant everything to our game," Mitchell said. "She paved the way for me to be sitting here to be a head coach, with her tenacity and her decision that women's basketball is important."

Said Toledo assistant coach Vicki Hall, "Pat is women's college basketball. She truly is. She laid the groundwork and has been a person everyone strived to be like."

Asked if women's college basketball would be as big without Summit, Hall said, "Absolutely not."

Tyler said it was strange for his mom to be in the stands while he was on the court.

But he couldn't contain his pride in her.

"She has taken a negative and really turned it into a positive. To see her be so strong and so courageous, it (her illness) is not hard on me at all," Tyler said before the halftime ceremony.

Former Milwaukee Sentinel sportswriter Cathy Breitenbucher and her family were seated behind Summitt. Breitenbucher said the night brought back memories of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where she reported on Summitt coaching the U.S. to the gold medal. Cheryl Miller, Anne Donovan and Lynette Woodard were among the standouts on that team.

"She coached a great Olympic team in 1984 that was superior in some ways to the men's team coached by Bobby Knight that had Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing," she said. "She had great, great players on her team, and they won by huge margins."

Breitenbucher, wearing a "We Back Pat" shirt, added, "She's just a living legend and a treasure for women's athletics."

Summitt is the only person to medal in an Olympic sport — silver in 1976, the first year for women's basketball in the Games — and later coach a team to a medal.

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Comments » 12

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

To be perfectly honest Pat should be honored in every gymnasium and and arena where girls/women's basketball is played. End of discussion !!!!!

SummittsCourt writes:

This gesture just goes to show us all that Pat Summitt is women's basketball. Without her efforts to promote the game most would still be playing in empty areas and definately not on TV.

Congrats Pat Summitt! Thanks for being a hero in all phases of life.

david_light_38230#225602 writes:

Pat Summit is not only women's basketball, she is BASKETBALL! She and Coach Wooden made college basketball what it is today . . .

Thank you Coach Summit for being a VOL!!

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Yes to what all of you said...

OrangeDew writes:

in response to david_light_38230#225602:

Pat Summit is not only women's basketball, she is BASKETBALL! She and Coach Wooden made college basketball what it is today . . .

Thank you Coach Summit for being a VOL!!

...and she did it with integrity, unlike Wooden.

movol53 writes:

in response to OrangeDew:

...and she did it with integrity, unlike Wooden.

Please enlighten me; what did wooden do that was bad? Or without integrity?

OrangeDew writes:

in response to movol53:

Please enlighten me; what did wooden do that was bad? Or without integrity?

Look the other way while his players were being paid and treated to illegal gifts.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Perhaps her most amazing statistic, and the one that hardly gets mentioned, is that all her players graduated. Also, I don't think there was ever even a hint of impropriety. She had no tolerance for those who broke the rules, and even canceled the biggest rivalry in womens basketball when the UConn coach showed disregard for the rules. Pat Summitt is UT's greatest asset, and is the standard by which all coaches should be measured.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

Perhaps her most amazing statistic, and the one that hardly gets mentioned, is that all her players graduated. Also, I don't think there was ever even a hint of impropriety. She had no tolerance for those who broke the rules, and even canceled the biggest rivalry in womens basketball when the UConn coach showed disregard for the rules. Pat Summitt is UT's greatest asset, and is the standard by which all coaches should be measured.

From what I understood it wasn't that Geno broke the rules but what he gave as a reason to Maya Moore's mother for why she should not play for the Lady Vols.

golfman1975 writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

From what I understood it wasn't that Geno broke the rules but what he gave as a reason to Maya Moore's mother for why she should not play for the Lady Vols.

If you forgot...Geno made arrangements for Maya got a tour of ESPN. Of course they are located in Conn...I am sure ESPN did not try to persuade her, they would not do that, right?

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

in response to golfman1975:

If you forgot...Geno made arrangements for Maya got a tour of ESPN. Of course they are located in Conn...I am sure ESPN did not try to persuade her, they would not do that, right?

I was aware of the tour but I refuse to post the statement he made to her. I have too much respect for the Lady Vols to do so.

SoddyVol writes:

in response to snowpeapod#263184:

From what I understood it wasn't that Geno broke the rules but what he gave as a reason to Maya Moore's mother for why she should not play for the Lady Vols.

Perhaps Geno didn't technically break the rules himself but he had others to do the job. I always thought help by fans, supporters etc. was illegal but the NCAA failed to do anything when her mother got help with housing so she could move to be close to Maya & also help to start her handbag business. It did surprise me that it is legal for a mother to make a business arrangement with the school but help she got getting it going should have been looked at.

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