Rutgers women's basketball Coach C. Vivian Stringer is one of the greatest coaches, men’s or women’s, in college basketball history.
On Nov. 13, 2018, Stringer picked up her 1,000th career victory, which only five other coaches have done in Division I basketball.
Since then, her team has won 13 more games with a 16-4 overall record and an 8-1 Big Ten record, only losing to No. 13 Iowa. The Scarlet Knights are ranked No. 17 in the country and are holding opponents to just 55 points per game.
Coming off a loss to No. 11 Maryland, IU Coach Teri Moren and the Hoosiers enter Piscataway, New Jersey, Thursday night in hopes of preventing Stringer from picking up career win 1,014.
“They’re athletic, they’re long, they’re scrappy, they’re relentless,” Moren said. “They play just like all of Vivian Stringer’s teams have played in her entire coaching career.”
Last year, IU defeated Rutgers 64-58 at home, and both teams ended up barely missing the cut for making the NCAA Tournament.
Moren said this year’s Rutgers team is similar to last year’s, but the only difference is the Scarlet Knights of 2018-19 are scoring at a higher rate.
Averaging 65 points per game, Rutgers is led by senior forward Stasha Carey, who is averaging 12 points per game.
“She has gotten better,” Moren said of Carey. “One of their low-post starters.”
But its not just Carey who can score the ball. Rutgers is a deep team and has 13 players who have averaged seven or more minutes throughout the season while the Hoosiers only have eight who have done so.
IU averages 71 points per game, so it will be a battle to see if the Hoosiers can find their offense or if the Scarlet Knights’ defense will make things difficult and hold them to under 60 points. IU is just 1-3 this season when it scores under 60 points, and all three losses have occurred in the Big Ten.
Moren said she hopes her team can mirror Rutgers in terms of being as relentless. She looks to a game like Michigan, where IU won 70-60 on Jan. 24. The Hoosiers showed that relentlessness on defense, especially rebounding, and strung together a solid 40-minute game.
The one word Moren said is the team’s biggest problem right now is inconsistency. One game IU scores 50 points and loses, the next game it scores 75 points and win. It’s been like that over the past three weeks, which has resulted in four losses in the last six games.
“I just want us to have some consistency about us night in and night out,” Moren said. “When we go into ball games, those of us coaches sitting over there on the sideline, we know one thing for sure that we are going to play hard, get the loose balls, box out and do all the dirty things that you have to do inside the game to give ourselves a chance to win.”
After IU’s past four losses, it has bounced back with a win on three different occasions. With IU's fifth loss of the season lingering from Sunday against Maryland, a win against No. 17 Rutgers on the road would be a big bounce back for the team.
“We got a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” junior forward Brenna Wise said. “Nobody likes to lose, and I think that anger is going to drive us and that’s our fuel to the fire.”