When I began my freshman year at Rutgers, the men's basketball team was fresh off a Final Four appearance and things were looking up for the Scarlet Knights.
Who knew that was going to be a peak that we wouldn't see again for at least 34 years (and counting)? Fortunately, Rutgers fans have an opportunity to see Rutgers women post great seasons year after year.
Coach Vivian Stringer has the ability to motivate her players to be the best they can be on and off the court. This year started very differently and it looked like a classic rebuilding year for the Knights.
With the toughest of schedules facing them and a preseason ranking of No. 2 in the country, great things were expected from Coach Stringer's women. It didn't happen. People questioned the team, the coach, the ranking, and everything about the program. UConn is flying high again and it seemed like a lost season for Rutgers women.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the NCAA Tournament...everything clicked. The team that couldn't shoot straight, box out, or shoot free throws began to do everything right.
Mainly, they learned how to play together with intensity.
All of sudden wildly talented freshmen players figured out how to maximize their skills and bring out the best in seniors Kia Vaughn and Heather Zurich. Epiphany Prince, the teams scoring machine, took it upon herself to be the main ingredient of this group of ladies.
Coach Stringer kept pushing down on the throttle in hopes of driving the Lady Knights deep into the tournament.
Yesterday, it all came together in an absolute trouncing of Auburn. Auburn the SEC champs with a 30-3 record never knew what hit them. The Knight's jumped out to 9-0 lead, scoring off the tap in the first four seconds and they never had to look back. The lead ballooned to 22-4 and Rutgers cruised to an easy victory. Auburn never trailed in a game this year by more than 18 points, but they lost this one 80-52.
Rutgers finds themselves in a bracket that just might lead them to the Final Four. Purdue is up next and then possibly Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. If yesterday is any indication of what we'll see for the remainder of the NCAA's, you would be foolish to bet against the Lady Knights of Rutgers.