Destined for a title
Five reasons Rutgers will cut down the nets tonight
Posted: Tuesday April 3, 2007 8:50AM; Updated: Tuesday April 3, 2007 11:54AM
Rutgers has played spoiler all the way to national championship game. After knocking off top-seeded Duke and a pair of No. 3-seeds in Arizona State and LSU, the Scarlet Knights are looking to thrive in that underdog role once again.
Top-seeded Tennessee will attempt to beat the Scarlet Knights in the tournament for a third consecutive season, but there's no reason why Rutgers can't pull off another upset.
Instead, here are the five reasons why Rutgers will give coach C. Vivian Stringer her long-awaited first national championship:
The freshmen aren't just showing up, they're contributing. Epiphanny Prince is the team's second-leading scorer with 12.5 points a game. The 5-9 guard does a good job of getting to the boards, too; she's averaging 4.1 rebounds. Myia McCurdy, Brittany Ray and Rashidat Junaid all played solid minutes in the semifinal win over LSU.
"What's interesting is that they're freshmen, you know," Stringer said. "But they seem to be oblivious. We haven't really pounded it into their heads, 'This is the Final Four, my God, it's the Final Four.' We understand history, that we are a 4-seed. We're not supposed to be here. No one expected us to be here. That's all right with us."
"They have a lot more offensive weapons as a whole this year than the previous two," Tennessee guard Alexis Hornbuckle said. "Cappie [Pondexter] led their team the first two times that I played them in the tournament, and I don't think Matee's game was as developed then as it is now. And Essence has elevated her game as well. So, it's like they're having a more balanced attack."
3. C. Vivian Stringer.
With a little tough love, Stringer has also taken a team that struggled early on because of its youth and turned it into a strong, cohesive unit.
Their defense was showcased against LSU on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights sagged in enough to take away Fowles' hook shot and frustrated her throughout the game. Despite a big height advantage, the 6-6 Fowles scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting. But Fowles isn't alone. Opponents have hit just 36 percent from the field against Rutgers all season.