Alana Beard has produced a lot of "firsts" for Duke University. Now Duke is returning the favor.
The university will retire Beard's No. 20 jersey today, the first time in school history a woman's basketball jersey will hang in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The ceremony will be held before the start of the game between the No. 1 Blue Devils and No. 2 Tennessee.
The 2003 National Player of the Year, Beard is the school's all-time leading women's scorer with 2,320 points.
"It is a blessing and honor to be the first women's player at Duke to have her jersey hung in the rafters in Cameron Indoor Stadium," said Beard, a two-time ACC Player of the Year who is averaging 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists. "To be considered one of the best to have played at Duke with all the great athletes who have come through this program over the years is truly amazing for my family and me."
Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said Beard isn't the first to deserve the honor, but the first to meet the tough criteria, including garnering a National Player of the Year type honor and other stipulations.
The decision to have the ceremony Saturday was so Beard's parents, who live in Louisiana, could attend.
"This is the last game that they are coming to before the final game and we didn't want to do it on her final home game because in that game we honor all of our seniors," Goestenkors said. "I didn't want to take away from the other two seniors and make it "Alana Beard Night' when it is senior night."
Beard's jersey will hang next to the jerseys of 11 Duke men's basketball players, including Johnny Dawkins, Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill.
Tennessee (15-1) at Duke (15-1), 6 p.m., ESPN2: It's No. 1 versus No. 2. What else needs to be said? The Vols are the nation's perennial power and Duke has risen among the nation's elite over the past decade. This is the 38th game between the top two teams in the women's poll.
OFF THE RIM:
Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale has become the school's all-time winningest women's basketball coach with 145 victories. She is the only Oklahoma coach to have led five Sooners teams to postseason action. If the Sooners win their next five games, Coale will reach victory No. 150 on Feb. 7 against Texas A&M.
Coale, 39, was hired in 1996 out of Norman (Okla.) High school. Six years later, she led Oklahoma to its first 32-win season and the 2002 Final Four, where the team eventually finished national runner-up.
Coale said the milestones are nice, but she probably won't appreciate the magnitude of what she's accomplished until much later.
"Obviously, it will be a big deal," Coale said. "I don't know that it's a big deal to me yet, but to look back on your career and say that you were the winningest coach of all time, I suppose, is something that will mean a lot to me at that time. ... We've had some fun with it and I'm sure it will mean a lot to me somewhere down the road. But you know how it is when you're in the middle of it, it's just I've got to win this next game."
Above the rest
It has been a record-breaking week for Penn State senior Kelly Mazzante. The All-America guard scored 24 points Sunday against Illinios en route to breaking the Big Ten women's all-time scoring record of 2,578 previously held by Ohio State's Kate Smith (1992-96).
On Thursday night, Mazzante took it one step further: She took over the men's record too.
In a win over No. 9 Minnesota, Mazzante scored 29 points, moving her past Calbert Cheaney as the Big Ten's career scoring leader for men or women. Cheaney finished at Indiana in 1993 with 2,613 points. Mazzante has scored 2,623 points in her career.
Mazzante's 29 points Thursday marked the 10th time this season and 70th of her career that she has scored 20 or more points in a game. In 2000-01, she led the conference in scoring with 18.2 ppg. In 2001-02, she led the nation with 24.9 per game. In 2002-03, she scored in double figures in 34 of 35 games.
"Everyone is always counting all these numbers. A thousand games seems almost impossible, but it can happen when you are having fun and enjoying what you do. Coaching and teaching every day is still my passion."
_ Pat Summitt
Tennessee coach during her weekly teleconference as she prepared to coach in her 1,000th game Thursday night against Vanderbilt.
- Compiled by Antonya English.