The University of Tennessee has sure seen some athletic programs struggle over the last few years, but one sport no one ever worried about was women’s basketball. Until now.
The Lady Volunteers were one of the first women’s basketball teams to draw attention to the sport. Under legendary head coach Pat Summitt, UT won eight national championships and completely dominated the sport for well over two decades.
In many ways, the program paved the way for teams such as UConn to become powerhouses. It seemed like the Lady Vols were going to the Final Four every year, but something has changed.
For the first time in nearly 50 years, Tennessee has lost four-straight games and five straight to a team they used to dominate: Alabama.
The Tide dominated the Lady Vols, 86-65, continuing Tennessee’s downward spiral in the SEC.
So, what’s the problem with the Lady Vols?
The impact of Pat Summitt’s death has played a huge role on why the Lady Vols have fallen on hard times. The shock of Summitt’s illness and death in 2016 not only rocked women’s basketball, but also the program itself.
Summitt won over a 1,000 games and eight national championships during her time. She was and still is an icon, and her death still shadows this program, which they have yet to overcome.
When you win that many games and become an ambassador for women’s basketball, that’s hard to replace.
Recruits that Tennessee would easily pick up under Summitt are now going to places like Mississippi State, which recently won their first national championship in women’s basketball.
Pat Summitt elevated the game so much that it maybe too much for this current Vols team to handle. The coaching staff is not the same, the players may not be the same, but the expectations remain the same: to win championships.
But those expectations may need to be lowered until Tennessee finds it way again.