As she steered her Mercedes sedan along Knoxville's Alcoa Highway last week following the Tennessee women's 72-66 win over Purdue, coach Pat Summitt sounded worried. "I'm concerned about my team," she said, even though her No. 3-ranked Lady Vols had just beaten the defending national champions. "The pressure everybody feels is greater this year. Our juniors almost got spoiled last season, but now it's different."
On Sunday an 85-62 drubbing of No. 25 Wisconsin made Summitt the second women's basketball coach to win 700 games. (The other is Texas coach Jody Conradt.) If Summitt maintains her current average of 27.8 wins a year she'll supplant Dean Smith (879 wins) as college basketball's winningest coach in 2006. A thousand wins? She could reach mat in 2010. "I mink I have a few good years in me," says Summitt, 47. "When I reached 20 years, I thought I could get to 25. Now that I've reached 26, I think I've got 30 in me."
For now Summitt will focus on a team still searching for an identity in the post- Chamique Holdsclaw era. Though Tennessee shocked the U.S. national team 65-64 in the preseason, it was stunned at home by Louisiana Tech in its season opener and looked sluggish against Purdue. "We don't have anybody every night who is stepping up," Summitt told the Lady Vols after that game. "Is that too much to ask of a group? That's why they call it team. But you won, so congratulations."
Motoring on the Tennessee campus near Chamique Holdsclaw Drive, Summitt reflected on life without the best Lady Vol of them all. "I miss her," she said of three-time All-America Holdsclaw. "I miss seeing her and talking with her, and of course against Louisiana Tech, I really missed her."