Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Catching up with Tyler Summitt

It's not every day that members of the Connecticut media request to interview a first-year assistant coach for an opposing team especially one just eight months after graduating from college. Then again, not every assistant coach is the son of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.

Tyler Summitt was gracious enough to talk to us for another 10 minutes before today's UConn/Marquette game.

Here are some of the highlights:

"It is just an honor to play Coach Auriemma. We have so much respect for him and it is an honor to be here, a part of the Big East and I am really looking forward to the game.

"Other kids say 'I want to be a firefighter, a policeman.' But I wanted to be a coach. I guess my mom saw that when I was in high school that I really was committed to that. I could have been a graduate assistant of Louisville men, North Carolina men,  was talking to Coach Pitino and Coach Williams but I wanted to go in to the women's game I have seen both parts of it growing up and I valued the relationships on the women's side."

On how the opportunity at Marquette came along Summitt said

"They assume that my mom and Terri were best friends and that wasn't it at all, they never actually talked about me coming here at all. We left voice mails and Terri called me back. In the beginning of the conversation I didn't think I was going to get the job. (Mitchell said) 'We have people who have applied and are way deep in the process.' Then as we started talking, in the conversation I could tell she was interested and by the end she was flying me up for an interview. It was nothing at first and then it turned into something."

Summitt on his recollection of the classic Tennessee/UConn games:
"I remember traveling up there, I remember all the tournament games. The games in Knoxville, I don't remember missing one. It was so much fun, what you are preparing from (since) preseason, you were preaching UConn, you were preaching Stanford

"You walk into Thompson-Boling Arena and thee are 25,000 screaming fans and you are up at Connecticut and they are all screaming. Just the passion behind it that it was so great.

"That still gives me some of my drive. I am trying to get better as a coach is I can still remember the adrenaline rush when I walk into the arena. Those are the games you prepare for and I hope to be a head coach some day in that environment."

Summitt deflected any questions about the possible resumption of the UConn/Tennessee rivalry

"Mom will put stuff into her book about the Tennessee/UConn rivalry. I will let her book answer that."

I asked him if he ever considered going in a different direction since not every child of a famous parent wants to deal with the pressure of following in their footsteps.

"I am so proud of her mom and I have learned so much from her over the years so I think growing up by her side was an honor and I am blessed for it."

Tyler recalls the ironic timing that he got the Marquette job on the same day as his mother stepped down at Tennessee.

"Marquette wasn't the only place I called but it all happened so fast, The day that my mom stepped down was the day I took the job here. It was crazy because I called here and accepted and I went to the press conference when my mom stepped down. It was kind of a weird day I am answering questions about me taking the job and mom stepping down. It was a different type of day."

Tyler on how he thinks the pre-game handshake with the UConn coaches might be like.
"So much respect for them. Growing up I hung out with Coach Auriemma's kids. Whenever I saw him he would rub me on the head. I have so much respect and it is going to be an honor to be on the other side."

His best stuff might have come when I asked him about whether he was breaking down games with his mom when games came on the TV.

"My bedtime lullaby when I was 2/3 years old was my mom screaming at the television. My dad is in there with me 'go to sleep, go to sleep.' As I started getting older mom would watch film. At first she was talking French because I have no idea how she was seeing 10 things at once. I started understanding and seeing the same things she did."


Anonymous Joe said...

It seems to me that the tension between UConn / Tennessee (Geno / Pat) became worse when Geno compared Tennessee to the NY Yankees. However, Summitt, not knowing anything about New England and baseball, completely missed the comparison: when she heard Geno call her program "the evil empire" she had no idea at all what that actually meant, in context.

1:35 PM 

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