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Summitt, Tennessee reach a polling milestone



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PHILADELPHIA - Hall of Famer Pat Summitt and her Tennessee Volunteers have reached another memorable number.

Tennessee (10-0) and Summitt on Monday became the first coach and program to earn 100 appearances in the No. 1 spot of the weekly Associated Press women's basketball rankings.

The Volunteers will play at Temple on Wednesday night.

In the 30-year history of the rankings, the Vols, coached by Summitt (892-172) for the entire time, have missed only 14 appearances out of 506 rankings.

When Summitt's team last appeared at the Liacouras Center, at the Philadelphia Regional finals in March, she had just become the all-time winningest men's or women's coach in NCAA history with 880 victories.

Twenty schools have reached the top spot in the AP rankings, with Connecticut in the runner-up spot for appearances with 94, followed by Louisiana Tech (83), Texas (47), Old Dominion (34), Virginia (24), Duke (23), Southern Cal (16), Louisiana State (15), and Auburn (11).

In Monday's rankings, Temple climbed from 25th to 22d after an upset of then-No. 15 Georgia and a win over Villanova. Idle Rutgers held at No. 9.

Virginia Tech bumped Mississippi out of the rankings after the Rebels had returned last week following an absence of almost a decade.

The next level. Tennessee was No. 1 a year ago but weakened by injuries when Temple almost upset the Vols in Knoxville.

Much healthier, the Vols will meet Temple this time with freshman sensation Candace Parker, who was redshirted because of a knee injury a year ago.

Summitt's teams have visited St. Joseph's in the past, and the Vols were part of the 2000 Women's Final Four at the Wachovia Center. (UConn beat Tennessee in the final.)

On that weekend in 2000, Temple officials made their first effort to hire Dawn Staley, who had no previous coaching experience.

Resistant at first, Staley accepted the challenge. Her efforts were rewarded last season when her team earned its first-ever national ranking.

"We're very excited," Staley said of Wednesday night's matchup. "I wouldn't mind continuing the series, but I know there's a waiting list to play them."

Summitt said she was eager to meet Temple's request for the home-and-home series.

"Dawn Staley had a lot to do with my decision," Summitt said of the WNBA all-star and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

"She's a player who's really made a difference in the women's game," Summitt added. "I've long admired her leadership, her play, her coaching, her longevity, and what she's done on the international level."

Geographically challenged. In Geno Auriemma's autobiography, "Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection,'' the successful UConn coach, who grew up in Norristown, Pa., missed the mark in describing the courtship of his wife, Kathy, who lived in Cheltenham.

Auriemma mentions in the book that the ride to Cheltenham is a half-hour away down Route 73, and that baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and former Penn star Craig Littlepage were Cheltenham residents.

"I've never been to this area before," Auriemma notes. "There's this term called the Philadelphia Main Line. There's a train that runs from the city out toward Villanova.

"The part where Kathy lives is a different section of the Main Line. It's the high-rent district. It's a place where people like me have no reason to go."

However, a mapping site on the Internet indicates that Auriemma's description of Cheltenham as a "Main Line" town is off from 12.4 miles (Narberth) to 24.6 (Berwyn).

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(c) 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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