Stringer faces unique challenge in 23rd season at Rutgers


stringerdimitri
Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Ask anyone to name the most well-known figures currently employed at Rutgers, and there is a good chance they will say C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of the women’s basketball team.

In addition to her notoriety within her own school, she is also one of the most recognized coaches in all of basketball. A hall of fame inductee in 2009, she has led the Scarlet Knights for over two decades, taking Rutgers to 15 NCAA Tournaments, two Final Fours and one championship game, as well as a Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) title.

She is the first coach in college basketball history to reach the Final Four with three different schools, is just one of seven coaches to win over 900 games and has been a finalist for the Naismith College Coach of the Year award five times while at the University and won in 1993. But most importantly for the Knights, she’s not going anywhere soon, as she agreed to a four-year contract extension on Thursday.

"I appreciate the opportunity to continue to take the Knights to great heights, in particular, with the current group of young ladies we have,” she said. "I have the chance to keep doing what I love to do and that is coach basketball, along with teaching and mentoring the young women who are in our program. With the current team, there is a great outlook, and I am excited for what the future holds for this program.”

With 47 years of coaching and almost 1,000 wins under her belt, Stringer has left an impact on countless players, and her current batch knows that all too well.

“(She’s taught me to) never break and never show anybody that you have your head down and always stand up strong,” said sophomore guard Ciani Cryor.

Entering her 23rd year in Piscataway, Stringer has seen it all, but there are still some things that surprise her. For example, her current roster has seven transfers, which is something that is almost foreign to her. In addition, Rutgers also has four redshirts who will get their first taste of on-court action after over a year off, including Tyler Scaife, who was second on the team in points per game and a second team All-Big Ten selection two years ago.

“In my years of coaching I’ve only had one or two transfers ever,” Stringer said. “More than half of the team has never played together. But so many of them have been on campus and have been able to practice with the team. I do enjoy these transfers, and I do enjoy this group”

Stringer will have to guide this bunch through the gauntlet that is the Big Ten, and with a team made up mostly of underclassmen, redshirts and transfers, that might not be easy. Coming off of a year where the Knights went 6-24 and 3-13 in conference play, there are a lot of challenges coming into this season, and Stringer knows it.

“We’d be happy to win over five games this season, and it’s going to be really tough," she said. "We’re playing Maryland and Ohio State in our conference and Michigan that just won the WNIT. And we also play the (defending) national champions, South Carolina. I’ve always said that if you want to be the best, you have to play the best.”

Still, that didn’t prevent her from entertaining the possibility that they could reach as high as the NCAA Tournament if everyone works hard.

But no matter what happens, the fact remains that Stringer has been instrumental in the success of many players throughout her almost 50 years of coaching, and her current team is no exception.

“Coach Stringer has taught me more than I can even imagine,” said senior transfer guard Kathleen Fitzpatrick. “The biggest thing that sticks out for me is always being confident, waking up every morning fearlessly, knowing that you can conquer anything that you can. She’s absolutely amazing, and to be able to play for her is a blessing.”


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Jordan Farbowitz

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