Rebounding woes continue at home
The Rutgers women's basketball team entered the Louis Brown Athletic Center yesterday with a negative rebounding margin of 0.4 during its three-game losing streak. That trend continued for head coach C. Vivian Stringer and Co. in the team's 54-47 win against Big East-rival Syracuse, as the Knights lost the battle on the glass, 41-28.
"I don't know what to expect," Stringer said. "We've really spent a lot of time working on zone rebounding, but for whatever reason, we keep getting pushed under the boards. Rebounding has to be a desire, something you want to do. Not something coach told us … we need to do."
Stringer highlighted the team's height deficiency as a key concern in the early goings of the season, and in the team's past four games, a lack of height proved problematic for the Knights.
While Syracuse did enter the contest as the top rebounding team in the nation, Rutgers has out-rebounded its opponent in only nine of its 21 contests this season and overall holds a negative-1 rebounding margin for the season.
The last time a Stringer team finished a season with a negative rebounding margin was during the 2001-2002 season.
Freshman guard Daisha Simmons got the starting nod over junior forward April Sykes in the team's victory Sunday afternoon at the RAC — the first of her career. Simmons came into the contest averaging 16.9 minutes per game, a team-high among non-starters. The rookie struggled in the game though, going 1-for-3 from the field and turning the ball over twice in 13 minutes of action.
Sykes, who failed to register a single point last game against St. John's, rode the bench to start the game in order to see the game and settle in, according to Stringer.
"She just needed to observe [and] just relax," the Hall of Fame head coach said. "She's been an outstanding shooter, but she just needs to see that zone because it's on you quick."
Despite finishing the contest with eight points on 2-of-10 shooting, Sykes still remained positive following the victory.
"I think it's all about just staying in the moment," the Starkville, Miss., native said. "I think I was still lackadaisical since the last game against St. John's, and I have been struggling with my shot since Louisville, but it was just [about] doing other things to help my team."
The Scarlet Knights suffered yet another blow to their roster during this week of practice.
Junior forward Julie Paunovic sprained the medial collateral ligament in her right knee and will be out indefinitely.
The Australia native spent half the season courtside for the Knights due to NCAA transfer rules after her arrival from Casper College (Wyo.) in the offseason. Paunovic saw the court seven times since her first appearance on Dec. 30 at No. 4 Tennessee and was set to make big contributions for the team down the stretch, according to Stringer.
"Losing Julie comes at a difficult time, especially with the other injuries we have been dealing with this season," Stringer said. "We were counting on her to help with our depth and 3-point shooting. This is definitely a tough blow."
Junior guard Nikki Speed also remains out indefinitely with a left foot injury.
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