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Pat Summitt all business as a new season approaches


Mike Miller

As expected, Pat Summitt isn’t dwelling on her early onset dementia diagnosis. But her players? They’re using it to help them do something the Tennessee women haven’t done since 2008.

Win it all.

“I think it motivated this team. Once they heard about it, they were like, ‘We’re cutting down some nets,’” Summitt said Wednesday in meeting with the media before the season begins. “When I gave them the diagnosis, I think it really motivated them. I wanted to sit down with my team and tell them what was going on. They’ve been great.

“I think they really are motivated for a championship.”

The Tennessee women’s coach, who publicly announced her condition in late August, was her usual self it seems at practice. Focused, intense. Her players are following suit.

“With Pat, she’s one of the best coaches in the country, and I think to be playing for her I really feel like it touches me because I’m playing for her and she’s taking care of me as far as making me become a better person, a better athlete,” sophomore Meighan Simmons said. I feel like now it’s our turn to return a favor to her.”

Summitt, 59, isn’t ignoring her condition, though. Her son, Tyler, is an assistant coach and has her daily “game plan” for what she should be doing to manage it.

But rest assured. She’s all business from now until April.

“That’s what I want to talk about — basketball, not dementia. Believe me.”

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