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Oklahoma women's basketball: Pat Summitt shaped Sherri Coale, Sooner players

Coale: “I don't know if there are any words” for what Summitt did for women's college basketball. “No one will ever rival what Pat Summitt's done.”
By Stephanie Kuzydym Published: March 27, 2013

NORMAN — There is a “wow” factor at Oklahoma when the name Pat Summitt is spoken.

Eyes grow wide, smiles spread and words like “legend” and “model” flow freely.

Tennessee head coach emeritus Pat Summitt shaped Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale and her players such as Whitney Hand, Jasmine Hartman and Joanna McFarland years ago.

On Sunday, Oklahoma will face Tennessee for the first time since a loss in Knoxville in January 2010. This Sweet 16 meeting will be the first time the Sooners will play the Vols without the legendary Summitt at the helm. After 38 years in charge, Summitt is in her first year as Tennessee's head coach emeritus. She announced August 2011 that she was diagnosed with early onset dementia.

“I don't know if there are any words,” Coale said of what Summitt did for women's college basketball. “No one will ever rival what Pat Summitt's done.”

As a junior high and high school player, Coale looked up to Summitts' teachings. When Coale was a head coach at Norman High School —  from 1989 to 1996 —  Coale said she studied what Summit did.

“Tennessee was one of the few women's teams that was ever on TV,” Coale said. “That's all I really knew about as a kid going off to play college NAIA basketball. ... As a high-school coach, I modeled much of what I did after the defensive (schemes) that she employed, which are really similar to Bobby Knight's defense and Mike Krzyzewski's defense.”

Coale went to seminars where Summitt talked about her “Definite Dozen”, or keys to success.

“She's just been instrumental,” Coale said. “There's probably not a single soul in our profession that she hasn't impacted in some way, shape or form.”

Take Oklahoma senior Whitney Hand.

Her freshman year was the 2008-2009 season. Hand calls that Tennessee game her favorite of all she's played, not just because she scored a then-career-high 20 points.

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