Something Is Wrong In Piscataway

By Richard Kent
Updated: November 25, 2008

basketball CONNECTICUT — Consider this fact. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights took a trip to California last weekend, ranked as the No. 2 women’s team in the country and got outscored 147-99 by California and Stanford.

That’s no joke — by 48 points. Their chief rival, UConn hasn’t gotten outscored by that much in three straight games in at least four Presidential administrations.

Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer (women’s, not Naismith) pointed her finger at a very young team, but the finger has to be pointed at everyone sitting on the bench except perhaps for the team managers.

How could a team with returning players like Kia Vaughn, Brittany Ray, Preseason All-American Epiphanny Prince and Heather Zurich be so utterly unprepared for their West Coast foes?

Sure, Rutgers lost great players in Essence Carson and Matee Ajavon,but Stanford lost a pretty great player themselves in Candice Wiggins. They did not look out of sync at all without her and they were coming off of a loss to Baylor.

The California team that Rutgers lost to was not playing at full strength physically. Rutgers still looks very challenged offensively even with a new up tempo offense.

They played with little enthusiasm and looked confused on the court. They were 18-of-48 from the floor against Stanford. Woeful. Their vaunted defense gave up an incredible run of 34-7.

Rutgershas had far too many of these games in the past. There was Duke at home in last season’s Jimmy V Classsic, as well as West Virginia and Louisville in the Big East Tournament.

These aregames that good teams rarely lose and great teams never lose.

Rutgers has blown out St. Joseph’s and Princeton thus far this year. Two very weak foes. One thing that they should question is why with five freshmen playing key roles, are they traveling across country to play Top 10 teams so early in the season?

Sure, they are games they have to pay back for home games last season, but shouldn’t that have taken place in 2009-10 when Rutgers would be playing with a far more experienced team.

They always seem to take far too challenging road trips too early in the season. What ends up happening is that they dig themselves in a hole loss wise with the NCAA and do not get a good seed in the Tournament.

Is Rutgers an elite women’s team yet? Sure they are. But they are not at the level of UConn, Tennessee and perhaps even Stanford. Those teams simply re-tool.

Will Rutgers be better in January? Absolutely.

Will Rutgers be ready for Temple on the road on December 1?

Maybe or maybe not. Only time will tell.