To college coaches, the quality of the teams they beat
can be just as important as how many games they win. Coaches design
their teams’ schedules for the year knowing that when the
NCAA seeds its national tournament in March, the strength of their
teams’ opponents may make the difference between getting
into the tournament or watching it on TV.
That is why, throughout the fall, Coach Stringer worried that her
team was not ready for the big ones. The Scarlet Knights’ record
looked strong as they headed into the new year, but they had yet
to beat a nationally ranked challenger. Their losses to rivals Tennessee
and Notre Dame in January proved Coach Stringer’s worst fears.
Her highly skilled players were not stepping up.
Insult was added to injury following a crushing loss to UConn, another
top-ranked team they needed to beat. A journalist for a Connecticut
paper mocked the Scarlet Knights for their dress and demeanor. He
said they hadn’t earned the respect they expected. Coach Stringer
and others were deeply offended by what they perceived to be his
insinuations, and his article became a topic of open debate.
Three days after its loss to UConn, Rutgers would have its last
chance in the regular season to prove it could handle a top outfit.
Notre Dame, number one nationally and undefeated, was coming to play
Rutgers on its home court. A lot more than a game was at stake.
January 2: RU Loses Rematch
Rutgers is out re-bounded by the team that undid
them at last year’s Final Four, second-ranked Tennessee,
in a showcase game at Madison Square Garden. Final score: 58-51.
January 6: Another Loss to a Top Team
#3 Notre Dame wins by forcing Rutgers to take the shots
it can’t: three-pointers. Star Tasha Pointer’s shooting
is the worst of the year — only 2 points. Sutton-Brown
scores her 1,000th career point.
January 7: Stringer calls her team “overrated.”
Talking to The Bergen Record after her team’s third straight
loss, she claims to be baffled by pollsters who take her team seriously.
The Scarlet Knights are now ranked ninth.
January 29: Justin Stringer returns to school.
February 6: Player Quits
Sophomore Kourtney Walton, one of the team’s top three-point
shooters, surprises the entire team by leaving. Her high school
coach reports she has lost the desire to play.
February 15: Controversy in Connecticut
The day after UConn beats Rutgers 70-45, Connecticut
Post reporter Chris Elsberry openly taunts the Scarlet Knights,
saying their “street style” is no match for the Huskies “poise.” One
sentence in particular angers Coach Stringer. “All the
tattoos, all the black uniforms and the headbands and the bravado
you take to the court doesn’t mean a thing when you don’t
have the talent . . .”
February 17: Breakthrough Game
Rutgers gives #1 Notre Dame its first loss of the season,
beating it by one point: 54-53. Dana Boonen and Tammy Sutton-Brown,
among others, turn in spectacular performances. Stringer praises
her team, and tells them to take a life-lesson from this victory.
February 20: Senior Night Triumph
Following the traditional pre-game festivities that
acknowledge graduating upperclassmen, Dana Boonen scores a career-high
11 points to beat Seton Hall.
February 27: Pointer Makes Big East History
Rutgers ends the regular season by beating Georgetown
65- 48. Tasha Pointer, 5’ 6,” proves height isn’t
everything when she becomes the first player, male or female,
in Big East history to accumulate over 1,000 points, 700 assists,
500 rebounds and 250 steals.
Coach Stringer readies her team for Tennessee at MSG
» watch the video
Tasha Pointer on facing Notre Dame
» watch the video
“Stringer raps her team after third
straight loss” by
Kevin T. Czerwinski Bergen Record 1/7/01 Stringer vents
after three straight losses.
“Pray together, win together” by
Kate Smith New Jersey Star Ledger 2/14/01 The Scarlet Knights go
to church as they prepare
to face UConn.
“Rutgers teams have yet to earn Huskies’ respect” by
Chris Elsberry Connecticut Post 2/15/01 The notorious article that
angered Coach Stinger.
“Scarlet Knights secure No. 3 seed in Big East” Associated
Press ESPN 2/27/01 Tasha Pointer has a record triple-double.
“Big Game, Big Victory” by Greg Tufaro Home
News Tribune 3/18/01 Writer and all agree this win proves the Scarlet Knights
are real contenders. Coach Stringer: “It took us a long time,
as long as I’ve ever seen a team take (in 27 years of coaching),
but I knew we had this in us.”
How the NCAA selects and seeds teams for the Final Four
site for NCAA Women’s Basketball
to articles from the 2000-2001 Season
Injersey.com’ (New Jersey’s Home on the Internet) archive
of Rutgers’ basketball stories for 2001