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Rutgers commences season with media day

Last season, the Rutgers women’s basketball team finished the year with some unfinished business. Despite compiling a 22-10 overall record with a 13-5 record in the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights were unable to put a bow on a noteworthy season. 

After losing their head coach, C. Vivian Stringer, in the latter half of the year due to medical reasons, Rutgers was handed a loss to Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. It lost to the hands of Buffalo in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to conclude the 2018-2019 season. 

These two defeats signified a disappointing end to an otherwise satisfying season, and come the end of March, the Knights were already looking forward to a new season that would commence in a little over eight months with a game against South Alabama on Nov. 5.

On Oct. 23, when Stringer spoke to several members of the media in a press conference at the newly built RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, she made sure to emphasize exactly what all of this anticipation has her feeling as the new season quickly approaches in just a little over a week.

“I just want to win, period," Stringer said. “We’ve got a lot of young people doing an outstanding job, but we’re not expecting anything other than the best.”

This statement was followed up by the praising of a group of several of the underclassman joining Rutgers for the first time this season, which includes true freshmen center Maori Davenport and guard Joiya Maddox. 

Regardless of who Stringer spoke of specifically, her words could not come as more of a relief to seemingly everyone involved with the Knights. The players themselves also suggested that their self-set expectations will surely be reached, and even surpass those that were established last year in Stringer’s 23rd with the program.

One of those players, senior center Jordan Wallace, was especially optimistic in her outlook for the 2019-2020 season.

“I feel like we have nowhere to go but up," Wallace said.

That is undoubtedly a possibility for this young Rutgers team who, despite having lost a total of six seniors last year, looks to be one of the top contenders in a Big Ten conference that will be loaded with competitive schools. 

Wallace and graduate student guard Khadaizha “KK” Sanders will be playing this season to assure both their younger teammates and coach that this outlook will remain accurate throughout the course of the season. 

“We just want to build off last year,” Sanders said. “We have the same expectations. We’re trying to win a Big Ten championship and just make coach proud.”

Making Stringer proud does not look to be a very difficult task for the Knights. They are loaded with talented, high-ceiling players and are diverse in their experience levels — which will assuredly help some of the younger members of the team grow into more impactful basketball players. 

What will be more strenuous for Rutgers is winning a championship. For that to happen, the Knights are going to have to advance farther into the tournament than they did last year. 

They will need to rely on the development of younger players, and will have to have the veteran members of the team ensure that it occurs. 

Most of all, they are going to have to do exactly what Stringer wants them to do — and that is to win.

For updates on the Rutgers women's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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