Tuesday, March 13|
Stringer: Rutgers can return to Final Four
By Tom Canavan
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The swagger that was so evident around Rutgers a year ago is missing.
Don't misinterpret that, coach C. Vivian Stringer says.
No. 11 Rutgers (22-7) is quite capable of going to the Final
Four for the second straight year, Stringer said Monday in a
telephone conference call.
"I don't think we're as bad as our 25-point loss to Connecticut
and I don't think we're as good as our one-point win over Notre
Dame," Stringer said of games earlier this season against two of
the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. "We're somewhere in
between. We've got a lot of things we've got to work on."
The work started Monday with Stringer putting the Scarlet
Knights through two, three-hour practices at the Rutgers Athletic
Center, which will be the site of first and second-round games.
No. 15 Southwest Missouri State (25-5) will play Toledo (25-5)
in the opener at 6:05 p.m. ET Saturday night. Rutgers will face
Stephen F. Austin (26-6) 30 minutes after the completion of the
Stringer admitted she knows little about any of the teams in the
subregional, particularly Stephen F. Austin.
The Ladyjacks have won 12 of the last 14 Southland Conference
regular-season titles and 13 of 14 conference tournaments. This
will be the Ladyjacks 14th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers is going to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight
year. It reached the round of 16 three years ago, the round of
eight two years ago and the Final Four last year, losing to
Tennessee in the national semifinals.
"Last year, we were obviously more confident," said Stringer,
who graduated Shawnetta Stewart and Usha Gilmore from last year's team.
"This is a very different group. We're more reserved, quieter. We
have a lack of depth and consistency, especially around the
Rutgers has shown flashes of being a very good team this season,
but that's all.
"I would be more satisfied if we reached my level of
expectation," Stringer added. "We had met it by last year."
The one area that hasn't changed is Rutgers' defense. Opponents
are averaging 56.8 points against the Scarlet Knights' aggressive
style which leaves many teams wondering if they are facing a
man-to-man or a matchup zone.
Stringer insists Rutgers can take 10 points off any opponent's
A senior dominated team, Rutgers is balanced on offense with
center Tammy Sutton-Brown (11.8 points), and guards Tasha Pointer
(11.4) and Karlita Washington (10.9) leading the way.
"I'm just anxious," Pointer said of the tournament. "My first
two years I didn't know what to expect. I was just happy we made it
to the tournament. But at the same time, I know what to expect. I'm
ready to do this. We're ready to do this." Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
|Stringer is looking for a second straight trip to the Final Four.||