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A cause for concern

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The trouble with holidays is that some times the world won't wait, and interesting stuff will keep happening. One such occurrence was on Wednesday night, where the Rutgers women's basketball team blew a big lead late to an awful George Washington team. They followed up with a close win over DePaul, coinciding with the news that a freshmen forward left the team, leaving only nine players on the roster.

I want to go back to an offhand comment I made back a few weeks ago, when the news came out that Coach Stringer was going to hold a 4 AM practice. My reaction was pretty much, "oh, that Coach Stringer, she's so old school and predictable, delving back in to her well-worn cliches". It's not intended as derogatory; I'm as fond of Stringer as anyone, but she seems awfully set in her ways, and her tried and true response to any adversity is to hunker down and work harder. Life as a Scarlet Knight can be as grueling off the court as their defense is stifling on it. The thing is though, if I'm mentally tuning out Stringer's message when it's repeated for the umpteenth time, you can't help but wonder what exactly the players are thinking.

Make no mistake though, Coach Stringer has beyond earned the right to complete autonomy for her program, and any serious discontent with her is absurd on its face. Her seat should be the coldest in the country. She remains the best coach at Rutgers, and is probably the best in the history of the entire athletic department. I say the following not coming from that angle, but rather trying to foster the same sort of candor that I've tried to with the school's other athletic programs. That means pulling no punches, but not taking any cheap shots either. If there is a fundamental issue at hand, beyond the unexpected and rather unprecedented loss of Piph Prince, then it should be addressed. Stringer may be a brilliant legend, but even the best will have to make adjustments from time to time to stay at the top of their game. There's no hard and fast rule about how to best handle change and adapt.

I think this sentiment is roughly where the broad swath of opinion is right now. My general attitude has been that Stringer should get all the leeway she wants and needs, and things are bound to turn the corner eventually. Given the track record, you have to think that's still the overwhelming likelihood. With all that's going on in the athletic department right now, well, I was going to say women's basketball SHOULD be the least of their concerns, implying that it has been and will be a strength soon enough. That kinda belies Stringer's recent comments last year about promotion and facilities though. Which may matter in the margins, but probably doesn't have all that much to do with any more pressing concerns

I don't agree, but the opposing school of thought is that this attitude of passive content is a concern. Athletic director Tim Pernetti has been trying to load up donor support and help in other ways, but it's not going to happen overnight. Hoops doesn't have a Dick Hale, and how do you issue a bond tied to future revenues when the RAC has had so much difficulty selling tickets as of late? Can't exactly raid the university budget either. it's a predictament, which leavs really the only choice as the status quo, hoping for a young roster to gel and play like the Scarlet Knights of recent past.