Pat Summitt’s assistants noticed something different about her last season. At times, she was forgetful, hesitant, confused. Was it stress? Her arthritis medication?
Then came the announcement last summer that Summitt had early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It brought a shock to college basketball. But it also brought clarity of purpose to her assistants at Tennessee and what would become their new and expanded roles.
“It cleared the air a little bit,” said Mickie DeMoss, a longtime assistant. “It took the energy out of, ‘What’s wrong?’ We were able to move forward: this is the problem, and this is how we’re going to deal with it.”
Summitt, with eight national titles and more victories than any other college coach, man or woman, would remain in charge. But her role would be necessarily diminished. DeMoss would run the offense, with input from Summitt. Her other assistants, Holly Warlick and Dean Lockwood, would handle the defense.