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March Madness

Sixteen Bittersweet Days in March
Madness, again. October has one night, March is consumed by it.

The delirium starts with the conference tournaments. For Rutgers, it is the Big East, with some of the toughest teams in the NCAA. Winning it requires a streak of four games in four days.

Then come the do-or-die rounds with the too-cute names: Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four. With a week in-between each for you-guessed it: practice, practice, practice. The NCAA lifts its restrictions on practice time for tournaments.

Coach Stringer made the most of that opportunity by doubling her team’s practice time. She reportedly told her team that they wouldn’t do anything but “eat, sleep and dream basketball.”

More than the game was on Coach Stringer’s mind. As Rutgers prepared to return to UConn for the Big East Tournament, Coach Stringer wrote a letter to journalist Elsberry to set the record straight about her players’ virtues. She took even more direct measures when her team arrived to play.

For Stringer’s players, pride, school, but also a prize lurked in the back of their minds: Being scouted by the WNBA. Reps from the professional teams would undoubtedly be in the stands; every serious player wanted to play her best. And if she didn’t, as in the case of Mandy Clark, watch out.

Key Events: March Madness
March 1: Two for the All-Stars
Tasha Pointer and Tammy Sutton-Brown are named to play in WBCA College All-Star Game in St. Louis on March 31.

March 4: CT Controversy, Continued
Stringer augments her response to Elsberry by making her players cover their tattoos with band-aids before playing in the Big East quarter-finals. Rutgers easily upsets Providence. 69-58

March 5: Rutgers Loses to Connecticut
Connecticut deprives Rutgers of poetic justice, beating it in the Big East semi-finals, 94-66. A leaky roof interrupts the game for 97 minutes.

March 11: Selection Sunday
NCAA officials decide which of over 300 teams are worthy of the 64 berths in the Final Four brackets. Rutgers is seeded fourth.

March 17: Rutgers Wins in First Round
The Scarlet Knights hold the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks to one of the lowest first-half scores in tournament history, allowing them only 12 points. The final: 80-43

March 19: Rutgers misses Sweet Sixteen
Jackie Stiles and SW Missouri State short-circuit Rutgers’ return to the Final Four. Stiles, the all-time top scorer in the NCAA, contributes 32 points to a final of 60-53.

March 22: WNBA Tryout Invitations
Less than 100 players out of the thousands available are invited each year. Tasha Pointer and Tammy Sutton-Brown are among them.

March 31: UConn Loses in Semifinals
Notre Dame beat UConn in the biggest comeback in Final Four history.

April 1: Notre Dame wins Final Four
1999 winner Purdue loses 66-68. Rutgers consoles itself knowing it handed Notre Dame one of its only two defeats this season.




Record for this period: 2 wins, 2 losses

The Scarlet Knights get ready for the big one

The Scarlet Knights get ready for the big one
» watch the video

WNBA scouts size up the players

WNBA scouts size up the players
» watch the video

Coach Stringer responds to Chris Elsberry Read the letter Vivian Stringer to the Connecticut Post journalist on the eve of the Big East tournament.
» view letter

“Art of Scheduling” by Kate Smith undated ODU head coach Wendy Larry explains the challenge of creating a tough but winnable schedule for a team.
» view article

“Season of Seniors” 1/5/01 Updated: 2/21 ESPN profiles stars in the NCAA senior class of 2001, arguably one of the best ever.
» view article

Related links:

Final Four brackets

Scarlet Knights History in the Big East

Official site for NCAA Women’s Basketball

Rutgers’ links to articles from the 2000-2001 Season’ (New Jersey’s Home on the Internet) archive of Rutgers’ basketball stories for 2001

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