Book excerpt: "Basketball: A Love Story" chapter details Pat vs. Geno, icons divided


When she wasn't tending to crops or milking cows on her family farm in Clarksville, Tennessee, Patricia Sue Head was honing her basketball skills by trading elbows with her three older brothers on the makeshift court her father constructed in a hayloft. When it came to basketball, she was primarily self-taught; there were no female coaching networks to connect her to notable peers such as Jody Conradt at the University of Texas or Billie Moore at UCLA (and earlier Cal State Fullerton).
Head (later Summitt, after her marriage in 1980) was just 22 years old when she accepted the head-coaching job at the University of Tennessee in 1974. The job, which paid $250 a month, also entailed driving the team van and washing her players' uniforms. At Tennessee, she accomplished the unthinkable: transforming a male-dominated Southern football school into a women's basketball powerhouse. The success of the Lady Vols was unprecedented, with routine sellouts amid national fanfare. Summitt's iconic status prompted leaders from all walks of life to seek her counsel, from Air Force generals to championship football coaches. She won 1,098 games and eight championships, but like her trusted friend John Wooden, Summitt waited an excruciating 12 seasons before she raised her first championship trophy. From there, she emerged as the face of women's basketball, the most endearing and admired figure in the game.