Pat Summitt begins her quest for a record-breaking ninth National Championship in women's college basketball this Sunday afternoon in Knoxville against Pepperdine. It will be her first regular season game since announcing her diagnosis of early onset dementia.
The University of Tennessee Lady Vols staff, including Mickie DeMoss, Holly Warlick and Dean Lockwood, have a ton of experience, and have rallied around Summitt. Warlick has been meeting the media, and doing the post-game statements for the two exhibition games the team has won already.
Summitt's son, Tyler, a walk-on member of the Tennessee men's team, has been sticking closely by his Mother's side, helping her with her daily routines and making sure she carries them out religiously. The Vol family is all determined to help Pat stave off the ravages of this mental illness for as long as possible.
This year's team appears to have the makings of one that can go all the way. It would be a fitting reward for all the hard work they will undoubtedly all put in this season to win it all.
As always, Tennessee plays one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation. They go to Virginia, play Baylor and Texas at home, DePaul and Rutgers on the road, and then out to play UCLA and Stanford before finishing the holiday season against Old Dominion at home. Their Southeastern Conference opposition will also be as stiff as ever, and that starts on New Year's Day at Auburn.
This year's edition of the Lady Vols will certainly have a lot of obstacles to overcome. It will take the entire team pulling together to make themselves a championship team. Right now, no one is betting against Pat Summitt to beat the odds and hang another banner in Thompson-Boling Arena, above the floor that bears her name.