Stringer’s 900th victory could see lengthy delay
As Rutgers head women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer stands at 899 victories, she simply wants the one that will rid the attention of a 900-win milestone.
“The only reason I would have liked to have gotten 900 was because I would like to be done with it,” Stringer told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “It’s a special honor, but it’s a heck of a lot of burden and stress. I’ll be glad when it’s over.”
The attention is a testament to Stringer’s widespread respect among the sport, and it was not absent Tuesday in Chicago.
DePaul head coach Doug Bruno gave Stringer her 800th-career victory, and the Blue Demons came very close to giving her No. 900.
After nearly rallying from an 18-point deficit, Rutgers could not pull out the victory in a 60-57 loss.
But that gave Bruno all the more reason to respect Stringer.
“Before the game, I thanked her for all she’s done for the game and told her I wanted her to win every game after she walks out of here,” Bruno told AP, “but [we did] everything we can to keep her from winning 900.”
Bruno is widely respected in his own right with 458 victories. But the head coach of Rutgers’ next opponent is likely to surpass the 900-win mark at some point.
Geno Auriemma, owner of 804 career victories, leads Connecticut on Saturday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Before facing Rutgers, DePaul suffered a 91-44 loss to the Huskies. The Knights are heavy underdogs against UConn.
The Huskies (23-1, 10-1) are at a different stage right now than Rutgers, which has five sophomores and four freshmen.
Rutgers saw more promise from its freshman class than arguably any game this season at DePaul, as forward Rachel Hollivay and guard Kahleah Copper scored 12 and eight points, respectively.
But it will take a lot more for a chance to upset UConn, as Stringer’s 900th victory might have to wait a while.
Rutgers has only had one easy win in Big East play, an 87-61 victory Jan. 16 against Providence. The upcoming schedule does not present any favorable opportunities.
After facing Connecticut, Rutgers has a two-game road trip, which begins Tuesday against No. 23 Syracuse. The Knights then travel to St. John’s, which beat them Jan. 6 at the RAC.
The Knights host South Florida, which holds a winning record in Big East play, on Feb. 26. Rutgers culminates its regular season with matchups against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the only two Big East teams that remain winless.
But winning has not been so easy for Rutgers this season because of how much it has needed to rely on youth.
“I did anticipate that this would be a three- or four-point game [against DePaul], and considering the youth of the people — we had a lot of young people out there — I’m pleased,” Stringer told AP. “The vast majority of work was done by freshmen and sophomores.”
Stringer now has another challenge, which is getting through her stress of obtaining victory No. 900.
But Stringer is used to facing challenges.
“I’m not only impressed with the 900, but she’s played good strong, tough [opponents],” Bruno told AP. “Those 900 are hard-earned.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow Josh Bakan on Twitter @JBakanTargum.