Wednesday, April 4, 2007

This isn't something that happens every day

In full disclosure, I care very little for women's basketball outside of my beloved Valparaiso Crusaders. In fact, if not for the masterful job done by their coach Keith Freeman, I probably would not follow any basketball of any kind. The WNBA is not my cup of tea, which is why I find it odd that I feel compelled to say something about the overwhelming achievement last evening.

In the NCAA Championship Game last night, the Tennessee Volunteers under head coach Pat Summit won the national championship by virtue of a 59-46 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The win gave the Volunteers their seventh title, which is a crazy number of wins. Some had focused on Tennessee "finally" getting over the hump after making five Final Fours since 1998 without coming away with the crown. Geez, five Final Fours in nine years? That seems awfully nit picky to me.

In all, Pat Summit has made it to the title game twelve times. 12. That's two more than John Wooden when he coached UCLA in a time when men's basketball was watered down with a smaller tournament. That's five more than the next closest active college coach (Mike Krzyzewski 7) and seven more than the next closest women's basketball coach ( Geno Auriemma 5, Leon Barmore 5).

While the numbers are clearly outstanding, to take into account the consistently dominating work done by Tennessee is worth mentioning. To make twelve title games, you'd have to have, at minimum, three outstanding recruiting classes. The Florida Gators men's team with their back-to-back victories are leading debates about one of the best college teams ever. Imagine if Billy Donovan maximized the opportunities allotted to him by this class and made the title game every year that Joakim Noah and the goofs were in school, making four title games. Donovan would have to recruit that top tier class two more times, and win his way into the championship game every year of that class's availability. That's unheard of.

I suppose it's something to talk about, but as I listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning, they are debating whether Pat Summit could coach the men's side and bring that level of success and command the respect on the guy's court. I find it hard to get caught up in that discussion not 12 hours removed from what is a remarkable level of success and unprecedented championship caliber play. The dominating performance of a tremendous program and highly successful coach should be story enough.

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