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Pat Summitt happy to be back at practice with Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — 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."

Summitt sought a diagnosis after struggling both mentally and physically during the 2010-11 season, which ended with a 34-3 record for the Lady Vols and a loss in the regional finals.