A Hall of a Place

By Jeff Lippman - June 11, 2007

You want further proof that Tennessee is the hub of women's college basketball?

As if winning seven national championships, having the winningest coach in any collegiate sport, boasting perhaps the greatest player in history on its current roster and having the Hall of Fame in their own backyard wasn't enough, that Hall of Fame just got some new members and they have Tennessee written all over them.

In all, six greats found their names newly enshrined forever in the prestigious Hall in Knoxville, each with their own reason to be grateful that the Lady Vols consistently played at the top of sport for decades.

The headlining name in this group is current Georgia coach Andy Landers. Landers continues his mastery of the coaching profession and has amassed a record of 684-215 since taking over the Bulldogs in 1979. In case you didn't put this together already, Georgia plays in the SEC...Tennessee's SEC.

The Lady Vols--along with LSU--have always been chief rivals for Landers and the Bulldogs. One could argue that Landers' record might be that much better had Pat Summitt not been on the winning end of so many head-to-head battles, but I would like to think that without the prestige that Summitt and her Lady Vols injected into the game, there would be no game to play at all.

Two players were inducted from former powers. Texas star Andrea Lloyd Curry and Louisiana Tech's Pamela Kelly-Flowers each won national titles during their four years, and each had special ties to Tennessee to win them.

Kelly-Flowers helped her Lady Techsters win the first-ever NCAA title in 1982 and who did they beat in the Final Four to make the championship game? That's right...Tennessee.

And when Curry's Texas team--led by member of the 900 win club Jody Conradt and one of Pat Summitt's closest friends and biggest rivals--won their national title in an undefeated 1986 season, there Tennessee was losing to eventual runner-up Southern California in the Final Four again.

Then there is Philadelphia Inquirer women's basketball "guru" Mel Greenberg. Greenberg is most famous for creating the Associated Press poll for women's basketball and although he has spent his career covering the teams in Philly and its surrounding areas, you can not be a pioneer in women's basketball without feeling a little something special for the team from Knoxville.

Oh and the last two players to be inducted? Well their ties to Tennessee are a little easier to follow...they both played for the Lady Vols.

Tennessee's Daedra Charles-Furlow and Bridgette Gordon both won titles while in Knoxville--most four-year players at Tennessee did--and they did so as teammates on the 1989 championship team. Charles-Furlow, now an assistant at Auburn, also helped the Lady Vols win a title in 1991.

The Hall of Fame, which opened in 1999, now has 97 members in total. And you can bet, housed in the city that put women's basketball on the map, that all 97 have much thanks to give to the program that most helped make a women's Hall of Fame possible.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2007

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