Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Losing hardly mars Vols

Summitt says 3-year reign was 'not bad'

The Associated Press

        Pat Summitt's message was simple: Losing isn't the end of the world.

        “It's a game, and winning and losing both can be great ways to teach kids how to get ready for the real world,” Summitt said Tuesday following the Lady Vols' loss to Duke in the NCAA East Regional championship the previous night.

        The 69-63 loss to Duke ended the Lady Vols' run at an unprecedented fourth straight NCAA championship and also ended the college careers of seniors Chamique Holdsclaw and Kellie Jolly.

        Losing isn't something the Tennessee Lady Vols are used to, especially the past four seasons with Holdsclaw and Jolly. In that span, Tennessee is 131-17 and 21-1 in the NCAA tournament with three national titles.

        In fact, since the ninth grade, Holdsclaw never has won anything but a championship at the end of the year. She won four straight New York State titles with Christ the King High School in New York City before entering Tennessee.

        Against Duke, Holdsclaw and the Lady Vols struggled. She tied her season low with eight points and was just 2-of-18 from the field. She cried on Summitt's shoulder after fouling out with 25.4 seconds remaining.

        When they talked Tuesday, Summitt reminded Holdsclaw of what she accomplished at Tennessee — three national championships, three Southeastern Conference regular-season titles, three SEC tournament titles and three times a first-team All-American.

        Holdsclaw also leaves as the NCAA tournament's leading scorer and rebounder.

        Tennessee has been the dominant team in the 1990s, making five trips to the Final Four and winning four national championships. The Lady Vols' only Final Four loss in the 1990s came in the 1995 title game to Connecticut.

        “You have to keep things in perspective. As much as you would love to see them go out with a championship or with a Final Four experience, you have to remind yourself, and in this case them, of what a wonderful three, four years it's been,” Summitt said.

        “Championships three out of four years ... is not bad.”