Originally posted to AtlantaMagazine.com on March 5, 2007
This past Tuesday night I realized two things: Bruce Pearl is crazy and Pat Summitt is nuts. The main thing, however, is that I have just gain a new respect for Tennessee’s basketball programs.
If you didn’t know, Pearl made it out to the Lady Vols’ game against No. 1 Duke this past January. He didn’t just come out to sit courtside and cheer for the girls though. He entered the student section, shirtless, with his chest painted orange with a “V” in the middle (he was one amongst a group of students who spelled “V-O-L-S” on their chests. He cheered his heart out, jumped around with the other students and made a complete fool out of himself. Orange Nation loved it.
Summitt, who found Pearl’s enthusiasm contagious, showed up this past Tuesday evening as the Vols took on No. 4 Florida. She entered donning a Volunteer cheerleading outfit. She also stood in the middle of the court and belted out “Rocky Top” at the top of her lungs. Orange Nation loved it…AND the Volunteers destroyed the Gators.
Both Pearl and Summitt are great coaches. Not good coaches – GREAT coaches. Pearl led the Tennessee men to an undefeated record at home and Summitt has over 900 career wins as the leader of the Lady Vols program.
The thing that makes them special, though, is their enthusiasm. Pearl has never had a problem showing his wit and his gift for gab when speaking to the media or fans (he shows up almost regularly on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption). Summitt, however, has always been known for her serious demeanor and icy stare on the court. This is why it was so entertaining to watch her sing and dance for the crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Their matching enthusiasm has made them look like the premiere school to attend if you want to play for someone who loves their program and more importantly loves their school. Their enthusiasm is terribly contagious and I have to admit that even I have become infected. Come late March, I’ll be pulling for Tennessee.