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National briefs: Summitt tickled to be at Vols’ practice

October 6, 2011

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— Pat Summitt is glad to be back at practice with her Tennessee squad after revealing during the offseason that she’s been diagnosed with dementia.

“That’s what I want to talk about, basketball, not dementia,” a fully engaged Summitt said Wednesday after the Lady Volunteers’ first practice of the 2011-12 season.

Summitt revealed to her team and the rest of the world in late August that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, over the summer. The 59-year-old Hall of Fame coach said she wanted to go ahead and deal with the news then so she could focus on basketball when the season arrived.

The timing seemed to have a positive effect for the Lady Vols, who have failed to reach the Final Four for three straight seasons after winning back-to-back national championships in 2007 and 2008.

“I think it motivated this team. Once they heard about it, they were like, ‘We’re cutting down some nets,’” said Summitt, who was her usual intense self on the sidelines. “When I gave them the diagnosis, I think it really motivated them. I wanted to sit down with my team and tell them what was going on. They’ve been great.

“I think they really are motivated for a championship.”

College basketball

Lavin to have surgery

New York — St. John’s coach Steve Lavin will undergo surgery today to treat prostate cancer.

The 47-year-old Lavin, who is starting his second season with the Red Storm, announced in early April that he had been diagnosed the previous September with an early stage of the disease. After continuing his normal coaching duties for about a year while pursuing a physician-recommended course of active surveillance, Lavin changed his treatment path to surgery.

He is expected to resume his coaching responsibilities after a recovery period. Practice starts Oct. 14, and the Red Storm’s first game is Nov. 7 against William & Mary in the opening round of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

Golf

Caddie thrilled to join Woods

San Martin, Calif. — Tiger Woods offered Joe LaCava the job as his caddie. LaCava said the decision was simple.

“Why? Because he’s Tiger Woods,” LaCava said Wednesday, offering very little by way of elaboration. “Enough said. It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? That’s my thought. It’s Tiger Woods.”

LaCava spent most of his 25 years on the PGA Tour working for Fred Couples, who used to draw the biggest crowds during the peak of his career in the 1990s. LaCava also has been around Woods during practice rounds with Couples.

This is the third full-time caddie Woods has employed in his 15 years on the PGA Tour. LaCava had been working for Dustin Johnson, leaving him after the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Woods signs Rolex deal

San Martin, Calif. — Tiger Woods returned to the PGA Tour with a new endorsement deal with Rolex.

It’s the first major endorsement deal for Woods in more than two years. He previously had an endorsement with Tag Heuer, which dropped him two months ago.

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