Holly Warlick faces impossible task in replacing Pat Summitt

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Good luck to Holly Warlick. Coaching one of the premier women’s college hoops programs is hard enough.

Replacing a legend? That’s almost impossible.

But that’s what Warlick will face as she replaces Pat Summitt as the Tennessee coach.

By all accounts, the longtime Vols assistant is certainly qualified. She played for Summitt, has been an assistant for 27 years and assumed the bulk of Summitt’s duties last season. Warlick was the one often talking to the media and taking the lead during practice.

She’ll probably do just fine, too. Warlick has the full support of the Tennessee athletic department and Summitt’s blessing.

“I feel like Holly’s been doing the bulk of it,’’ Summitt told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “She deserves to be the head coach. I’m going to support her. No doubt, I’ll be there for her.”

Summitt, 59, isn’t going anywhere – her new title is head coach emeritus – and will continue to help the program recruit, analyze practices and games and chime in on meetings. But that hardly takes away the pressure from following Summitt, the most important figure in women’s college basketball history, not to mention the winningest coach ever. Replace a coach who was 1,098-208 in her career with 16 SEC titles, 18 Final Fours and 8 national championships?

That’s not possible. The best you can do is continue that success. And even that will be a challenge.

“We will work as hard as we possibly can with the goal of hanging more banners in Thompson-Boling Arena,” Warlick said.

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Is there even a proper comparison for Warlick? By my reckoning, there are four coaches who followed larger-than-life figures in the men’s game.

Gene Bartow replaced John Wooden at UCLA. Joe B. Hall followed Adolph Rupp at Kentucky. Bill Guthridge stepped into Dean Smith’s job. Mike Davis was the man who coached Indiana after Bob Knight. None of them came close to matching their predecessors, though it should be noted that all of them won at least one conference title and reached a Final Four. Hall even won a title.

But all of them fell short of the high standards set by their predecessors. How could they not?

Perhaps Warlick can thrive and keep the Vols among the elite women’s programs. Tennessee hasn’t won a title since 2008 or been to a Final Four since then, but it has plenty of talent and support. Wish her luck.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.

h/t ShockerHoops.net

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.