Saluting Summitt

Lady Vol basketball coach Pat Summitt's name graces the court where the Tennessee men's team plays. Her face is one of the most recognizable in sport and her program is viewed as a dynasty.

So, is Vol coach Bruce Pearl annoyed by his female counterpart's celebrated quest for 1,000 victories? Hardly. He's amazed by it.

"There are many things about her that are incredible," Pearl noted earlier this week, "but (her astounding success) is all about her expectations and the expectations she has for her team. She goes to Auburn and plays a team that's ranked, that's 4-0 in the SEC and expects to beat them ... and wants the kids to expect to beat them.

"That's one of the reasons that she's going to be playing for her one thousandth win. It (any challenge facing her) just doesn't matter."

Pearl is no slouch himself. In fact, he entered the 2008-09 season with 394 victories and a .785 winning percentage that ranked third among active NCAA men's coaches.

Here's a stat, though, that may help put Summitt's accomplishments in perspective: Averaging 24.6 victories per year in his first 16 seasons as a coach, Pearl needs to maintain that pace for 25 more years in order to crack the 1,000-win barrier. Obviously, that's a tall order.

"There's no way you can even begin to comprehend a thousand wins as a college basketball coach," Pearl said. "You can understand for an NBA coach, with how many games they play (at least 82 per season). But this is unprecedented stuff. These are records (by Summitt) that will never be touched.

"Records are supposed to be broken but will we ever see (another) college basketball coach win a thousand? Not the way we hire and fire coaches these days. I don't think you're ever going to see that."

Given the imposing shadow Summitt casts, Pearl could be envious of his coaching peer. From all indications, however, that is not the case.

"It's an honor to be on her side and her team," Pearl said. "She is unique in the world of coaching, and she's been Tennessee's own."


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