Insight Into Rutgers Women's Basketball

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Hello Scarlet Nation!

I hope everyone is doing well out there. A lot has happened since my last post so let’s get caught up! Right now everyone is in the thick of finals- writing papers, preparing presentations, and studying for exams. I was extremely fortunate this semester and completed everything early so I’ve just been cruising. As far as the team goes, we’re 5-3 and coming off a great win at the Garden against LA Tech.

Since my last post we hit a little bit of a rough patch, falling to both Princeton and BC. The common theme through both of those games was our inability to defend the three-point line. Something else that we have struggled to do, in a more broad sense, is to define what kind of team we are. By this, I mean that we have not yet demonstrated a niche. Are we a fast break team?  A team that can force turnovers through Coach’s patented 55? Are we drivers or shooters? We have not been able to define ourselves. I think a lot of this can be attributed to the loss of three vital seniors from last year, combined with our youth. I have no doubt though that as we continue to study film and practice, everything will fall into place. We definitely have an abundance of talent and one of the most intelligent staffs imaginable. I think that our game against Louisiana Tech in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden was a stepping-stone in the right direction for us.

I have had the opportunity of playing in Madison Square Garden twice now. It is legitimately one of the most amazing honors I have ever had the privilege of having. Walking through the tunnels to arrive into the locker room area is surreal; knowing that all of the greats from every aspect of sports and entertainment have walked the same storied halls. Even though we view each game as a strict business meeting, we couldn’t help getting a little distracted and excited about the venue. To add to this, we were given the Knicks locker room as our own. Everyone, including the coaches, was a little star struck by this and all took pictures and examined the room in awe. This was a pretty awesome experience, not going to lie.

knickslocker

As far as the actual game goes, I think we played our best game of the year. We finally were able to effectively execute our offense. We shot exceptionally well from the field and everyone contributed. Defensively, we were able to force 20 turnovers and hold the Techsters to 46 points. I was so happy for AB (Ariel Butts) as she contributed 7 rebounds and 6 points in only 13 minutes. I always feel like a proud mother when my little (or not so little in AB’s case) freshmen play well.

After the game, Coach Stringer was so happy. This may sound a little corny, but anytime Coach Stringer is genuinely happy there is no way you cannot help but feel the same way. A happy coach is a happy program! To add to this, Coach got hold of both Kym Hampton and Theresa Weatherspoon and had them speak to the team about working hard and reaching our potential. This was really awesome, especially for me because I grew up idolizing T-Spoon. Aside from their motivational words, it was just amazing to see how much love and respect they have for Coach Stringer. Sometimes, as a player, because you are around Coach so much you forget how much she has done in her career and for women’s basketball in general. It is in moments like this that everything is put back into perspective and I realize how unbelievably fortunate I am to be in her presence each and every day.

A few other quick things to note- I wanted to give a shout out to Lauren Westendorf, our team’s Nike rep. She hooked us up with some awesome new elite socks to rock at the Garden and came by to see us play. I had the opportunity to intern at Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR this past summer so it was great to reconnect with Lauren and hear what she has been up to. I also wanted to congratulate Mo (Monique Oliver) on her 1000th point as a Scarlet Knight! Mo and I have always had a special connection- you can find us watching Spongebob together and coloring all the time- and I’m just so proud of her and all that she has accomplished at RU.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. I hope to see you guys out at the RAC on Wednesday for our game against Southern and on Sunday for a big game against Miami. Please let me know if you have any questions or want me to cover any specific topics. Take care!!

RU RAH RAH,

B Lap

Gobble Gobble

Hello Scarlet Nation!

 

Sorry for my little hiatus but I have been busy with the start of our season, practice, class, and most importantly catching up on 30 Rock (I absolutely love Tina Fey). So, a lot has happened since I’ve last written- the election, the move to the Big Ten, Thanksgiving, and of course the start of our season.

 

In regards to the move to the Big Ten, I think we had a great run in the Big East- one of the nation’s strongest basketball conferences. I have grown up with Big East basketball and will miss the rivalries that have been established. However, I am very excited that Rutgers has been given the opportunity to join the Big Ten and believe that this move will help the university in a multitude of ways. The Big Ten is filled with prestigious institutions and with the addition of both Maryland and Rutgers, it will only continue to grow.

 

Now for the fun stuff! We have kicked off the season with a 2-1 start. Our opening game at Georgia was a great measuring stick for us to understand where we stand. Georgia is a great team and we struggled in taking care of the ball against them. Even with 26 turnovers and subpar offensive execution we were able to hang with the Dawgs, eventually losing by six, 57-51. Although far from an ideal game, we were able to take valuable lessons with us. One thing that I believe in firmly is taking weaknesses and turning them into opportunities for improvement and success. This mindset is what we must use when evaluating all of our games, win or lose. A huge positive to pull from this game was the play of Christa Evans, my little goat (greatest of all time). She played, what I would consider, the best game of her collegiate career- playing great defense and controlling the boards on both ends of the court.

 

The execution in our second game, our home opener against George Washington, was far from what we had planned for. After the Georgia game the importance of taking care of the ball and limiting turnovers was stressed greatly by the coaching staff. And when I mean greatly I mean running for every turnover in practice. This did not translate to the court against the Colonials and we again found ourselves struggling offensively. Fortunately we were able to pull away and pick up our first win of the season. On a positive note, Kah (Kahleah Copper) had a great game and was able to show off her ability to get to the hole and rebound. I constantly find myself amazed by her athleticism and gracefulness on the court. I wish I could be 1/6 as athletic as her. (Although I am a better juggler, so that makes me feel a little better about myself.) Even though we recorded the “W” there were not many happy campers after this one- we definitely needed to regroup and play our patented brand of Rutgers women’s basketball.

 

I’m going to interrupt my rundown of our schedule to give Coach P (Pointer) a shout-out. As I am sitting here writing this in the athletic training room at the RAC, she came in and asked to be included in this blog post. So, here’s to you Coach P- I see you rocking your brand new Nike ice FuelBand.

 

Back to our last game- an away contest against Temple. Coach Stringer, not being exceptionally happy with our past two games, had put our Thanksgiving on the line with this game. It was a simple deal, if we won and took care of business, as Scarlet Knights should, we would have Thanksgiving off. If not, we would be in the gym on Thanksgiving working on our game (very much like how the Pilgrims worked on their ball handling skills on Thanksgiving). With this extra motivation and our regrouped focus, we were able to finally put together a complete game. Everyone contributed in a positive manner and we were finally able to handle the ball, committing only 13 turnovers on the night. It was great to see everyone from the freshmen to the seniors putting up positive numbers and offering effective minutes. Needless to say, we were all extremely happy when in the locker room after the game Coach Stringer jubilantly let us know that there would in fact be turkey and stuffing for the Scarlet Knights.

 

On Thanksgiving all of the local kids had the opportunity to go home and spend the day with their loved ones. I personally went into NYC with my parents and saw the Radio City Christmas Show Spectacular, which in fact was spectacular! I had a great time spending time with my parents, Santa, and the Rockettes. All of my teammates who do not live in the area spent Thanksgiving as a Scarlet Knight family. It’s always tough for the players who are far away from home, especially the freshmen, to be so far on occasions like this. That is why the importance of being a Scarlet Knight family is stressed. We do all consider one another sisters and help each other in times like this. I hope all of you out there in Scarlet Nation had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

Speaking on behalf of the whole Scarlet Knight family one of the things we are thankful for is the continued support of our dedicated fans. Thank you for taking the time out of your lives to support and encourage us through our ups and downs. With that being said, our next game is against Davidson at home on November 25 at 2pm. I hope to see you all at the RAC!

 

RU RAH RAH,

B Lap

Hello Scarlet Nation: Hurricane Sandy Edition

Hello Scarlet Nation: Hurricane Sandy Edition

I would first like to say how saddened I am about the damage that Hurricane Sandy has created all along the east coast. As a lifelong Jersey girl, I still cannot believe the photos I have seen of our beloved Jersey shore and surrounding areas. I hope that everyone out there reading this is safe and sound. I am very thankful that all of my family and friends are safe (although many powerless). At Rutgers, it is almost surreal to see students being evacuated to the Busch and Livingston campuses- many sleeping on cots in the student center and gym. Even though I would have loved to be home with my family, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to spend the hurricane with my Scarlet Knight family on campus. I believe in Jersey and know that we will continue to stay strong and rebuild.

Although a devastating storm, Sandy did provide the best team bonding experience ever imaginable. Our team all lives in the same apartment building with the exception of the freshmen who reside on a different campus. However, per the request of the coaching staff, the freshmen all moved into our apartments to endure the storm with us. Although it’s great basketball-wise that all our freshmen are above six feet, it did create a challenge about where to have them sleep. We managed to work it out though- rearranging a lot of furniture and pillows. I had always thought that we were around each other a lot and that we knew one another pretty well. However, being stuck with thirteen other people for nearly seventy-two hours straight really allows you to learn more than you can imagine. For example, I never knew that Essy (Syessence Davis) could juggle or that AB (Ariel Butts) loves the movie Matilda (she watched it for two days straight, until all our laptops died and she had no other means of watching it). Speaking of juggling- Goat (Christa Evans), Kah (Kahleah Copper), and I all decided that we were going to learn how to juggle during the storm. What a frustrating task! Eventually, Christa was able to master it- and that is just another reason why I call her Goat (Greatest of All Time). Kahleah and I are still working on it. I also never knew how competitive of a board game player Kena is- be careful if you ever play her in Monopoly! You’ve been warned.

On the whole, our team is not an adventurous one. When not in the classroom or on the court you would most likely find us napping or watching a movie. However, the hurricane did provide some adventure for us. On Monday night as the storm began to intensify, a few of us thought it would be a good idea to head over to the dining hall to grab some food before we knew we couldn’t go out again. The dining hall is right across the street from our building and in normal conditions is no more than a five minute walk. So, Kena, Goat, Kah, and I bravely bundled up (after much hesitation) and headed outside to the dining hall. Our first challenge was opening the door to get outside, which was being thrashed by the winds. After some more hesitation and some strength we finally opened the door and went outside. The rain was falling and the winds were whipping powerfully. I looked at my teammates and was about to tell them that they were crazy and we should head back inside. Before I could formulate these words they took off in a jog sprint across the street. So, I had no choice but to follow. We had made it just about to the student center (the building right in front of the dining hall) and were feeling pretty good about our journey. Then the power went off on all of Livingston campus and it became pitch black. Kena jumped into my arms and Goat and Kah who were ahead of us ran back to us. We then all grabbed each other and in a panic, jogged sprinted back to the apartment. In front of the apartment we calmed ourselves down and huddled together. I was starting to say that we had made a valiant effort but we should probably just go back to the safety of our apartment. Instead, they all decided to continue on our journey to get food. So there I was, once again chasing after my crazy teammates. We eventually did make it to the dining hall and they were luckily still serving food. We picked up some subs and headed back to the apartment. By this time the wind had really picked up. Kena, Kah, and I (who are all on the smaller side, as far as our team goes) were struggling to fight through the wind. On the other hand, Christa with her 6’3” frame and brute strength was walking through Sandy as if it were just another day in the park. Luckily, we made it back to the apartment safely. This truly created a bond between the four of us that is hard to mimic. After our adventure the power was out and we spent most of our time playing board games, talking, and napping.

 

Now, for those of you wondering where the basketball part of this comes in, well here it is! If you know anything about Coach Stringer is that she lives and breathes basketball. If she could have us in the gym 24/7 she would. We knew that there was no physical way for us to have practice in the midst of a hurricane so we all were relieved to have a couple days off. Then we received a text message telling us to find a place in the building to run through our plays and some basic defensive concepts. So there you have it, even in the middle of one of the biggest storms in recent history, the Rutgers women’s basketball team was working hard to become one of the best teams in the country. We found an empty study lounge, used a mini basketball (one that Kah and I had been using to practice juggling) and got to work. We walked through a multitude of plays and really focused on getting the small things right such as the angles of the screens and cuts. We had two of these sessions, one on each day. We even had the freshmen write out plays so we could ensure that they had gotten them down pat. I was extremely impressed by the leadership displayed by Chelsey Lee during these times.

For the past two days (October 30-31) we have been able to practice at the RAC. As a team we are very fortunate that we have power and have been able to function almost normally throughout the storm. As I said before, I hope everyone is safe and comfortable in your homes. Hurricane Sandy could not stop us on our journey to a national championship and we don’t believe anything can this year.

 

RU RAH RAH,

B Lap

Go Shawty, It’s Your Birthday!

Hello Scarlet Nation!

 

How has everyone been? I’d first like to wish Christa Evans (Goat) and my mom very special happy birthdays. Speaking of which, I need to share what happened to me yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, Rutgers has five different campuses so students must take buses to get from class to class. Yesterday, I had gone downtown to pick up some balloons for Goat. To get back to my apartment I needed to take a bus from the College Ave campus to Livingston. As I got on the bus, carrying a bunch of balloons, I realized that the bus driver was Stan- the famous preaching bus driver at Rutgers. Stan is always giving motivational speeches and words of encouragement to his bus and I’m sure everyone on campus has gotten the famous Stan high five. Anyway, as I got on the bus he saw the balloons and started to wish me a happy birthday. When I told him it was my friend’s birthday and not mine, well, he really didn’t seem to care. He then asked my name and conducted the whole bus in a rendition of  “Happy Birthday”. The bus sang to me all the way down Route 18. I was embarrassed but it was a good laugh. I only wish Christa could have been there to enjoy her song.

 

Basketball-wise, official practice has begun and we are a little less than a month away from our first game of the year. There is always so much to learn and go over during this time period, especially with four freshmen. There will always be trepidation, frustration, and stress felt by the freshmen as they try to learn a whole new system in such a short amount of time. However, I have been impressed by the way they are handling the adjustment. Most people don’t realize how much of the game is mental and the importance of understanding the small details. The mental and learning aspect is probably more daunting than the physical aspect for most kids. It’s always exciting to see a freshman pick up a new concept and run with it. Rachel (Hollivay), Kah (Kahleah Copper), AB (Ariel Butts), and P (Precious Person) have all made positive strides in their own way. As far as the returning players, everyone knows what they need to do in order to be successful this season and are working hard to do it.

 

A few other things to note- Dee (Khadijah Rushdan) and Ap (April Sykes), two of our seniors from last season, came down to Rutgers to visit us (on separate occasions). I loved being able to see them and hang out. You get so used to being around your teammates 24/7 that when they graduate it’s a strange feeling not seeing them anymore. I’m so happy we all got to spend some time with them and I’m sure they were happy to be back (especially since they were in a position where Coach couldn’t make them run suicides). I want to wish them both the best of luck as they go overseas to play this season. I will definitely be following their success.

Lastly, I wanted to share this picture with you guys.

Our team was introduced at halftime of the football game against UConn. While we were waiting to be called out onto the field, E (Erica Wheeler) decided she wanted to see what it was like to be a member of the dance team. I personally think she was awesome and now has a solid backup plan in case basketball falls through. It was a really fun, lighthearted moment. 
 

That’s all I have for you guys for now. I hope you enjoyed this post. Take care and GO RU!!

 

RU RAH RAH,

Brittany aka BLap

Inside Rutgers Women’s Basketball

I hope you guys didn’t miss me too much, but not to fret, I am back with my second blog installment. First off, let me just say congrats to RU football! What a great win over Arkansas to catapult us into both the AP and Coaches polls. The campus seems to really be buzzing with pride. From the perspective of our team, we could not be happier than when the other Rutgers Athletic teams are doing well (ok, maybe if we won a National Championship or if Coach gave us a day off we would be happier-but you get the point). As student athletes we have a mutual respect and understanding of the hard work that goes into being able to perform at the Division I level and we love to see one another be successful.

Now let’s get into the good stuff- what your Scarlet Knights have been up to. During the preseason there are strict limitations on the amount of time the team or individual players can be on the court with coaches. In these short sessions we have been focusing on fundamental skills and basic drills, to both get everyone back into the basketball mindset and also to get the freshmen adjusted to doing things the correct way. There is always a big learning curve for every incoming freshman both on and off the court. With that being said, I have been impressed by the adjustment of our freshmen as well as their willingness to learn and work hard. Another thing to add to my list of things that have impressed me is AB’s (Ariel Butts) and Lex’s (Alexis Burke) southern charm; I absolutely love their Georgia accents and AB’s constant use of “yes/no ma’am”. It is so unbelievably endearing. Anyway, aside from the workouts with the coaches, we continue to have lifting and conditioning sessions with Mike (Mike Johansen- our strength and conditioning coach) to keep ourselves strong and in the best shape possible.

Although it may seem like all we do is workout and go to class, there is some time (surprisingly) that is spent away from the court and classroom. Last weekend, we had two recruits on campus. It’s always exciting when recruits come because it gives us a chance to immerse these kids with Rutgers tradition and pride (having recruits also means free food!). To be able to see a recruit come in and have a physical reaction to our state-of-the-art locker room or to be moved by a highlight film from our Final Four appearances is always special. However, the best part about having recruits is going to Coach Stringer’s house for dinner. I absolutely love going to Coach’s house because it is one of the rare times when we can all hang out, not as a team and a coaching staff, but as a family. All of the pressure from basketball and school is released and we are free to enjoy one another’s company. Everyone jokes around with each other and there always seems to be an intense game of ping-pong going on. It worked out really well with the football game being on TV this Saturday as we were able to watch that as a team as well. Toward the end of the night, a spontaneous dance party erupted and even Coach Stringer got into the action. It was a great night and I think everyone there thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

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I think that sums up what our team has been up to this week. Next week, official practice starts and this really marks the beginning of our season and our journey toward a National Championship. I hope you continue to follow the Scarlet Knights and me on this journey. I think it will be a special one this season. Take care and go Rutgers!

 RU RAH RAH,

Brittany aka BLap

Hello Scarlet Nation!

 

 

My name is Brittany Lapidus and I have been handed over the reins to the Rutgers women’s basketball blog for the 2012-2013 season. I am very excited to be given this opportunity to give you- our fans, friends, family, random person who came across this page on Google, Oprah (one can dream, right?)- an inside look into the Rutgers women’s basketball team. I am also honored to be following in the footsteps of two Scarlet Knight greats- Brittany Ray and Khadijah Rushdan- in writing this blog. Usually the only other time I’d be following in their footsteps is when they’d be outrunning me during sprints, pickup games, warm-up jogs- pretty much any time running would be involved. Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about myself first and then I’ll get into what your beloved Scarlet Knights have been up to.

 

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I grew up in Marlboro, NJ- bleeding scarlet from the beginning (in my opinion, bleeding any other color is unnatural). I grew up going to Rutgers women’s basketball games, even being a ball girl for the team. I idolized Tasha Pointer and Chelsea Newton- now our assistant coaches. Sorry Coach Jackson! I transformed into a huge Rutgers women’s basketball fan- and I still consider myself one of our biggest fans. Sometimes I wish I could hold up the signs that the Cagers Club (our fan booster club) makes while on the bench- especially the “Driving on Mo Mo is a No No (Monique Oliver)” one. That sign is a classic! Anyway, when in high school I got into Rutgers and accepted right away. I knew I needed to be involved with the team while on campus and became a student-manager. That was an exciting year, as I learned how the program runs and got to be around everything I had grown up dreaming about. Now here comes the cool part- the beginning of my sophomore year (2010-2011) I walked onto the team! That’s right- Rutgers was going to give me my own jersey (no more buying them at the bookstore) and locker, but more importantly the privilege to be a Scarlet Knight and represent both my school and Coach Stringer. As I go into my senior season I still cannot believe how fortunate I’ve been and how many amazing experiences I’ve been able to have being a Scarlet Knight. I hope that in this blog I can share some of these experiences with you and give you some insight into being a part of the Scarlet Knight family. Now that you know a little about me- let me tell you about what the team has been up to.

Every year when the fall semester starts, there is a little bit of transition time before we kick it into first gear and really start preparing for the season. We’ve been back on campus for about a week now and we are all trying to get back into the swing of things. We’ve had workouts every morning, lifting and running, to get ourselves ready for the season and the infamous preseason conditioning test. For those of you who do not know, Coach Stringer has devised a torturous, heinous running test that everyone must pass before they are allowed to play. I’m only kidding with those adjectives (sort of) – it’s something that we all know is of great importance for both physical and mental toughness and is a rite of passage for every Coach Stringer player. The test consists of the mile and a combination of different suicide sprints, all timed and measured out precisely. Aside from these workouts, we have been playing a lot of pickup games together in order to get a feel for playing as a team and with different lineups. This is also a chance for the upperclassmen to give the freshmen some guidance without the coaches being there to intervene. I’ve been really impressed with the way in which all our seniors- E (Erica Wheeler), Mo (Monique Oliver), Lee (Chelsey Lee), (and I guess we can throw me in there as well) – have been stepping up and providing our freshmen with leadership and direction.

Off the court, we always seem to be together- whether it is eating together, complaining about how sore we are, or going to class- you’d be hard pressed to find a time that there are not at least a few of us together. We truly have a sisterhood, and would be lost without one another. Literally. Christa Evans ( I like to call her “goat”- greatest of all time) has called me nearly every day to ask me how to get to different buildings for class. As I said, we are always hanging out together and this past Sunday we had the opportunity to go the Prudential Center to see the Liberty play the Sparks. This was something that was so extraordinary to me because of the Scarlet Knight representation on both those WNBA teams. To watch the game with my team and see four incredible players (Cappie Pondexter, Kia Vaughn, Essence Carson, and April Sykes) who were previously in our shoes, having gone through the same things we are going through, is special. All of these players are now excelling at the highest level of their sport, and have gotten to that point thanks in part to the program that I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of. I know in the future I will see some of my current teammates out there. Anyway, I think we all enjoyed the game tremendously- it was a thriller! For me especially, it was great to see April do so well- she’s like a big sister to me. It was a great team bonding excursion and nice to get off campus for the day.

So, I hope this first post gave you some insight into the team and me. I will update this as often as I can and really hope everyone enjoys reading what is going on with your Scarlet Knights. If there are any questions or anything you’d like to know more about, please reach out and let me know! See you all at the RAC!

 RU RAH RAH,

Brittany aka B Lap

 

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