#30 Rutgers Women's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Overall rank: #30
Conference rank: #6 Big East
Rutgers Women's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preview
Rutgers Team Page


Despite being known as one of the elite women’s college basketball programs, Rutgers has had its share of struggles in recent years. The Scarlet Knights have lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament in two of the last three seasons, despite having the higher seed last season. If longtime coach C. Vivian Stringer could put a finger on what has happened to the team, that might help turn Rutgers’ fortunes around faster. Instead, Rutgers is left to ponder another tough schedule, including games against nine fellow NCAA tournament qualifiers, and a Big East Conference that figures to be tough once again.

2011-12 record: 22-10, 10-6
2011-12 postseason: NCAA
Coach: C. Vivian Stringer
Coach Record: 885-318 overall, 365-183 at Rutgers

No doubt Stringer’s quest for 900 victories will help shape the first half of the season. The fact is Stringer has a knack for drawing the most talent out of the players on her squad, and it’s not known where the team would be without her in the lineup. She’ll need to work the magic this year, but the Scarlet Knights have three key players back from last year’s squad. Playing their games at “The RAC” (Rutgers Athletic Center), where the team was 12-3 last year, is a big help. Home-court advantage has been fine to Rutgers, but neutral sites (4-1) have been just as kind to the Knights as well. As for individual players, the return of senior Chelsey Lee will help. Lee, who was sidelined all of last season due to shoulder surgery, is a double-digit threat in scoring and rebounding.

Rutgers averaged 60.9 points per game last season, almost half of that coming from leading scorer Khadijah Rushdan (13.1) and April Sykes (12.9). Those ladies are gone, leaving Monique Oliver (11.8) as the only double-digit scoring threat from last season. The scoring drops off pretty quickly after this, with seven players averaging under 3.0 points per game. Obviously, the Scarlet Knights will need to put more buckets in the scoring column if they have any hope of regaining conference momentum. Two of three leading rebounders (Rushdan and Sykes) are gone, leaving Oliver’s 7.3 boards per game as the only strong rebounding threat left.

Final Projection:
Rutgers has not had a losing season since going 9-20 in 2001-02. The Knights won’t be that bad this season, but the exit of several key players won’t help matters. It will depend on how well Lee adapts in her return to the lineup. If Lee can shine like she did before, then Rutgers could have another strong campaign. If not, women’s basketball could be a little weaker for the wear in Piscataway this season. Rutgers plays 13 games before it even sniffs Big East competition, so how Rutgers does in this stretch will go a long way to determine the season outcome.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Monique Oliver, Senior, Forward/Center, 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season
Erica Wheeler, Senior, Guard, 8.6 points and team-leading 57 steals
Betnijah Laney, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, 6.0 points
Chelsey Lee, Senior, Forward, did not play due to injury in 2011-12
Briyona Canty, Sophomore, Guard, 41 assists and 14 blocks last season

Madness 2013 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#22 Chelsey Lee
#23 Monique Oliver

Madness 2012 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#11 Rachel Hollivay
#22 Kahleah Copper
#63 Precious Person
#95 Ariel Butts