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"Mission: Possible" Gets Underway
Midnight Madness, that’s what they call the first official practice in NCAA basketball. The Scarlet Knights make the tradition their own by respelling it as MidKnight Madness. All over the country, bands play, fans cheer, and the players respond in kind. Not a game has been played; everybody’s just getting psyched, drumming up the spirit needed to prevail in the season ahead.

Prevailing looked possible for the Scarlet Knights as they entered the 2000-01 season. In Division I’s crowded field, they were ranked #4. That sounded impressive to everyone but some of the true competitors on Stringer’s team. To them that ranking should be, it would be: Number One. No wonder they titled their media guide “Mission: Possible.”

But for all the noise and flash of Midknight Madness, the real first practice was quietly intense. The players gathered on the sidelines beneath a legacy hanging in the rafters: The jerseys of former Scarlet Knights gone pro, and the NCAA tournament banners for 1999 and 2000. Pressure? Did you say pressure? Coach Stringer’s first words to her team were an FYI on preparation: “What we are about to embark on is going to be a very long journey,” she said.

And it wouldn’t be easy. Between first practice and the first official game, the Scarlet Knights would lose one of their best players to injury, and senior Linda Miles would be suspended for attitude problems.

Key Events: Pre-season
October 13: It’s Midnight Madness
Freshman Mandy Clark makes a big first splash by strutting around the court wearing a mask from the movie “Scream” while her teammates perform a choreographed dance.

October 14:First Official Practice
Coach Stringer begins by telling her students that they are on a world-class team.

Tasha Pointer’s First Practice Since Shooting
Wearing goggles because she still has occasional blood in her eye, Tasha nonetheless plans to play in the season opener on November 17.

Freshman Tattoos in the News
A local paper interviews freshmen Mandy Clark, Dawn McCulloch and Nikki Jett. It reports the team is counting on them to fill the shoes of the departed Stewart and Gilmore. The article also describes Clark’s and McCulloch’s tattoos: Clark’s right arm shows a bulldog dunking; McCulloch’s has a basketball with the number 35 inside it.

October 18: Justin Stringer Recovering
ESPN reports that recovery is going well for Justin Stringer, Coach Stringer’s 16 year old son. “I am extremely grateful to the Lord because He really spared Justin’s life.” Coach Stringer says. She also admits that it has been a challenge concentrating on basketball since Justin was injured.

November 9: Stringer Elected to Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
A member of the Hall’s third induction class, some whisper that Stringer should have been elected last year, because her record was better than some others who were selected at the time.

November 10: Doctors Order Fowler to Sit Out Indefinitely
Christina Fowler, one of the team’s best “pure” shooters, suffers two concussions in one month just before the season starts. Fowler was a recipient of the Coca-Cola Classic Scholar-Athlete Honor in the 1999-00 season.





Coach Stringer speaks at first practice

Coach Stringer speaks at first practice
» watch the video

The Scarlet Knights meet the press

» watch the video

“Stringer’s son ‘doing very well’” by Associated Press 10/18/00 Stringer admits she has not been “in tune” with her team.
» view article

“Pointer playing again after vision scare” by Associated Press 10/18/01 Pointer details shooting and her recovery
» view article

“Rutgers’ Flagship Team Ready to Set Sail For Title” by Harvey Yavener The Trenton Times 10/20/00 Linda Miles fantasizes openly about beating UConn and cutting down the net as the winner of the Final Four:

“Stringer, Grentz heading to hall” by Greg Tufaro Home News Tribune 11/9/00 Stringer and her predecessor at Rutgers, Theresa Grentz, are elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame” in Knoxville Tennessee.

“Pointer sees it all clearly now” by Kelly Whiteside USA Today 11/10/00 Pointer recounts her shooting and talks of the future.

“Stringer fights off tragedies” by Kelly Whiteside USA Today 11/10/00 Stringer discusses coping.

“Trio of freshmen grows close” by Greg Tufaro Home News Tribune 11/10/00 Mandy, Dawn and Nikki talk about filling the big shoes of last year’s seniors.

Related links:

Rutger’s traditions

Home of the NCAA

Playing season and practice hours for scholarship athletes

Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

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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