Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rutgers' Stringer out of line with WNIT comments

Ladyswish is disappointed in C. Vivian Stringer's comments about the WNIT. After Rutgers lost to St. John's on Wednesday, Stringer said if the Scarlet Knights do not receive an NCAA tournament bid, she would decline one from the WNIT.

“I guarantee I won’t be coaching a team that goes to the NIT," Stringer said in the postgame press conference. "So if we don’t go the NCAA, we ain’t going. I’m not going to the NIT. That’s second, in my opinion, and I never will accept that. Never have accepted it. So don’t even ask me that question. Ever.”

Said Khadijah Rushdan, “Any team that is playing like this would be frustrated too. “To hear our coach talk like that hurts. I don’t blame here because she brings us up as not being second-class citizens and to go to the NIT would be just that. ”

Rutgers (15-13) has lost its last three and has a current RPI of 32 and a strength of schedule of 3. The Scarlet Knights' best win is over DePaul (28 RPI); their worst loss is to George Washington (246 RPI).

Stringer is among the most respected coaches in the game and advancing to the WNIT isn't the insult she makes it out to be. South Florida (27-10) defeated Kansas (22-1) in the championship game that drew a record 16,113 to Allen Fieldhouse a year ago. The win gave South Florida its first postseason championship in any sport and the 2009 WNIT champions are celebrated on the team's website. Nebraska, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Syracuse, St. John's, Richmond, Marquette, Georgetown, Hartford --- are these second class teams? All played in the WNIT a year ago.

Four sophomores, including Rushdan, are on the Scarlet Knights roster. So are two freshman. Denying a young team the chance to play in the postseason doesn't make much sense when what your teams needs is chemistry and experience. Stringer's comments are also a slap in the face to an evolving WNIT (there's 64 teams this year), which is good for the game. As an ambassador for the sport, Stringer should be thinking about what's good for the game. Is it really smart to pack up your toys and go home when maybe you could learn a thing or two when you stay and play?

The WNIT is about opportunity. To slight it is just plain foolish.

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