The Tennessee Lady Vols, ranked No. 20 to start the season, were upset by Chattanooga last night.
The loss was unexpected and certainly something out of character for one of the caliber programs in women’s basketball. There is a major piece missing to the usual puzzle for Tennessee though.
After 38 seasons, Summitt stepped down from the head coaching position in April after announcing that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Holly Warlick, who was an assistant coach under Summitt for 27 years took over the head coaching job.
The Tennessee Lady Vols had high hopes for the season despite the loss of the Hall of Fame coach.
But the absence of Summitt has changed the way Tennessee plays, at least from the looks of yesterday. They only had six assists the whole game, something a team under Summitt would have never gotten away with.
Summitt brought a coaching dynamic that is irreplaceable both on and off the court. Tennessee may never be the same team or compete at the same level. She demanded excellence and her players knew they had to deliver.
Not only was Summitt a great coach, but also an excellent recruiting tool. She was an idol in women’s basketball and every great player wanted to be coached by her. The coaching change may change the mind of recruits in the future and slowly remove Tennessee from the list of premier programs in the league.
It was only one game, but it sure was not a good way to start a new era at Tennessee.