Rutgers faces first road test of year against LSU
Traditionally, LSU has been known throughout the nation as a powerhouse in Division I women’s basketball.
For five consecutive years, from 2004-2008, the Tigers reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. In 2007, the Rutgers women’s basketball team pummeled LSU in the national semifinals in Cleveland, Ohio, 59-35.
Even in the past two years, LSU has reached the Elite Eight, missing out on the Final Four by a sniff both times.
But as the 2014-2015 campaign has gotten underway, the Tigers have yet to do the same. Arkansas-Little Rock crashed the season opener party in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and ripped LSU in a 70-54 upset.
Responding to the embarrassing start to the year with a blowout over Sam Houston State and surviving a scare to a lowly Jackson State, the woes continued in LSU's most recent blunder, a 51-45 loss at home against Tulane.
Despite the frigid temperatures engulfing Piscataway this past week, C. Vivian Stringer can only warm up to the idea of traveling down south Saturday to prolong the Tigers’ troubles and bolster the Scarlet Knights’ prosperity.
But in order to do so, the Rutgers head coach expressed the need to continue to make strides in utilizing all areas of the floor – especially in the paint.
Despite the slow start out of the gates to begin the season, Stringer still addressed LSU with high respect for the program’s talent, throwing out a quick reminder that it’s still a step up from the level of competition the Knights faced on Tuesday with Northeastern.
“We need to be sharper and quicker to the ball, for sure, and we need to run the lanes – really run it and look to attack,” Stringer said. “We need to be better at it, not turn the ball over, try to affect a little more in the post, but the posts need to be representing and there’s certain things from different areas that need to be happening and hopefully we can address that … Northeastern and LSU are not the same.”
Prior to the beginning of the season, sophomore guard Tyler Scaife discussed the work put in over the summer to take the next step after an electric freshman year.
It’s been two games, but Scaife is off to a promising start. She has led Rutgers in scoring in both contests, dropping 23 points in a dominant 70-53 win over St. Joseph’s and leading all scorers with 15 points Tuesday night against Northeastern.
The combination of Scaife at off guard and junior Briyona Canty running the point has the Knights running rampant in an up-tempo offense that thrives off its stout defense on the other end. Against the Huskies, Rutgers forced 22 turnovers.
Canty posted her first-career double-double against Northeastern, scoring 12 points and shelling out 10 assists on the night.
Hopping on a plane for the first time this season to visit LSU, the Knights face their first road task of the season.
Even with the alarming start plaguing the Tigers through their first four games, Canty refuses to take them lightly.
“I think it’s the same approach. I think we just need to work harder in practice and just remain focused, but I think it’s the same approach as everything that we take on this year,” she said. “We’re not looking past nobody. We’re just going to keep the same approach, same intensity and keep a mindset that we believe.”
Knowing LSU’s prestige and credibility in the recent past, Scaife said that a win would be another huge step in the right direction for Rutgers.
With that in mind, she expects a heightened sense of urgency – and one that will lead the Knights to their third win of the season.
“I feel like if we beat them, it’s going to mean more, you know, with [LSU] going to the NCAAs [last year] and stuff like that,” Scaife said. “… I feel like we should be more focused. We gotta go harder because it’s a different team and better talent probably, so it’s gonna be a big win.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow @GarrettStepien and @TargumSports on Twitter.