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College Basketball

One last award

Lady Vols' Holdsclaw, Purdue's Peck garner AP awards

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Posted: Thursday March 25, 1999 07:42 PM

  Tennessee senior Chamique Holdsclaw (left) and Purdue coach Carolyn Peck will add this special honor to their already highly decorated careers. Ezra Shaw and Todd Warshaw/Allsport

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw, already the first three-time All-American, achieved another breakthrough Thursday when she became the first to repeat as The Associated Press player of the year in women's basketball.

Carolyn Peck, who has her team in contention for the national championship in her second and final season at Purdue, was selected coach of the year.

Both were overwhelming choices in voting by AP newspaper and broadcast members nationwide.

Holdsclaw, the most decorated player of her era, also won The AP's award as a junior last season, when she led Tennessee to a 39-0 record and its third straight national championship. The Lady Vols fell one game short of returning to the Final Four this year, losing to Duke in a regional final.

But the fluid, 6-foot-2 Holdsclaw still had an outstanding season.

She led Tennessee in scoring (21.3) and rebounding (8.1), shot 52 percent from the field and left thousands of admiring fans something to remember by matching her career high of 39 points in her final home game, an 89-62 victory over Boston College in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

"She has been so special," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "She has been a low maintenance player because she does the right things off the floor. She makes good decisions.

"It has been a joy and an honor to coach Chamique, and I have to throw in every once in a while that it has been a challenge," Summitt said. "But I like the challenge."

The challenge came not because Holdsclaw was ornery or conceited. To the contrary, she's modest and unassuming. The challenge for Summitt was to take a great player and help make her even better.

"I think I challenged myself immediately when she signed with us," Summitt said. "Because I saw this potential for greatness. I don't know if I envisioned three national championships and the level of notoriety that Chamique received.

"But I did envision someone very special. So I was very challenged because I knew all eyes would be on this player and the development of this player."

Holdsclaw arrived at Tennessee after leading Christ The King High School in New York to four state championships. While winning its three NCAA titles during Holdsclaw's career, Tennessee compiled a 128-17 record, including a 21-1 mark in NCAA tournament play, and had a 46-game winning streak.

She finished with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds, No. 1 on Tennessee's career list in both categories.

Peck will join the WNBA's Orlando Miracle as coach and general manager when the college season ends, but she has done far more than just go through the motions as a lame-duck coach.

Purdue became No. 1 for the first time in school history and will take a 32-1 record and 30-game winning streak into the national semifinals against Louisiana Tech Friday night.

Peck counts Summitt among her influences after spending two seasons as an assistant at Tennessee. She also spent one year on the staff at Kentucky and one season as an assistant to Nell Fortner at Purdue. When Fortner left to coach the U.S. national team, Peck was promoted to replace her.

"I think the combination of all of that, plus the staff I have, has helped me so much," Peck said. "We work together and we work well. One thing I've found as a head coach, you don't have to feel like you've got to do it all by yourself.

"It's a team effort. And I think when our team sees us work as a team, they work as a team as well."

The Boilermakers do work, but they also have fun and Peck sets the tone with her positive, upbeat manner. Instead of stomping along the sideline and growling at the officials, Peck is constantly applauding her players or imploring the crowd to make more noise.

Afterwards, she can laugh and cut up with her players without losing their respect.

"To be successful with what you're doing, you have to enjoy what you're doing," Peck said. "It doesn't matter if you're a doctor or a clerk, you have to enjoy doing what you do. The thing that is so much fun or that I enjoy the most is seeing our players enjoying what they're doing."

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