Big Ten women’s basketball notebook: Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer not with team

The Daily Iowan examined the biggest women’s basketball storylines from Big Ten Media Days Oct. 7-8.


Grace Smith

The 2022 NCAA Basketball Championship trophies are displayed during Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — Rutgers head women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer has not been with her team since April because of COVID-19 concerns, Scarlet Knights associate head coach Tim Eatman said at Big Ten Basketball Media Days Thursday.

The 73-year-old head coach left following the Scarlet Knights’ first round exit from the NCAA Tournament, according to NJ Advance Media.

Stringer left the team in an effort to stay healthy through the pandemic and to care for her family — including her 40-year-old daughter, Janine, who has received special care since having spinal meningitis at 2 years old.

The coach is reportedly using sick time that she has accumulated in her 26 seasons at Rutgers, and her vaccination status against COVID-19 is unknown.

“We want coach back yesterday, but we understand that she’s trying to find a way through this pandemic,” Eatman said. “Our best bet is to continue to move forward, but continue to do the things that coach will always do. Our staff is really excellent in the fact that we never dilute what coach wants done and we never pollute what coach wants done.”

Eatman has experience running the Scarlet Knights, as he managed Rutgers in the 2018-19 season when Stringer stepped away because of exhaustion. 

The report stated Stringer could return at any point before the beginning of the Scarlet Knights’ season Nov. 9.

Ohio State  finishes postseason ban

The Ohio State women’s basketball team imposed a self-inflicted postseason ban on the 2020-21 season because of reported recruiting violations by former associate head coach Patrick Klein.

The investigation by Ohio State and the NCAA showed that Klein — who spent eight seasons with the Ohio State women’s basketball program — committed multiple recruiting violations. Amid the investigations, Klein resigned in 2019.

The violations include recruiting inducements, impermissible recruiting communications, and allowing impermissible assistance throughout the process.

Klein also allegedly provided gifts to student-athletes as well as money for meals.

The Buckeye women’s basketball program originally set self-imposed penalties that did not include a postseason ban, but the NCAA decided the penalties were not sufficient.

Ohio State finished seventh in the Big Ten at the end of the 2020-21 regular season with a 9-7 conference record, but the Buckeyes could not contend in the Big Ten Tournament.

“That was a very difficult situation for our kids and for our program,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said Thursday. “Our kids had worked incredibly hard to put themselves in position to have a chance to be in the postseason. It wasn’t on the table for us. As an institution we had to make difficult decisions. I think we made the right decision, but it was really tough on our kids.”

The self-inflicted postseason ban was only for the 2020-21 season. The Buckeyes will be eligible to compete in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament in 2021-22.

Maryland returns 93 percent of scoring

Maryland women’s basketball, the reigning Big Ten Tournament champion, is returning 93 percent of its scoring from the 2020-21 season. 

The Terrapins led Division I Women’s Basketball in scoring in 2020-21 with 90.8 points per game. 

“With that many possessions, to be able to secure the ball like they were able to do, was a big piece to our success last season,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said Thursday.

The Terrapins are returning all five starters and their top eight scorers to the lineup in College Park, including 2021 Big Ten Tournament Co-MVPs Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miiller. 

Maryland finished last season 26-3, and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament before the Terrapins were upset by Texas in San Antonio. 

To start the 2021-22 season, however, the Terrapins are taking on a strong nonconference slate.  Maryland will face four of the NCAA’s women’s basketball preseason power 10 teams out of conference, with three in the top five — No. 10 Baylor, No. 5 North Carolina State, reigning national champion No. 3 Stanford, and No. 1 South Carolina.

“Our preseason, our nonconference schedule, will prepare us,” Frese said. “We play three of the top five teams in the country this season. So, all those games that are going to prepare us for what will be the most difficult Big Ten season ahead.”

Indiana looking to make another deep run in postseason

Indiana women’s basketball advanced the furthest of any Big Ten team in the 2021 NCAA Tournament as the Hoosiers made a run to the Elite Eight. 

The fourth-seeded Hoosiers upset No. 1 seed North Carolina State, 73-70, in the Sweet 16 in San Antonio.

Fellow Big Ten teams Maryland, Iowa, and Michigan all fell in the Sweet 16.

But the Hoosiers’ season ended in the Elite Eight, as they fell to eventual national runner-up Arizona, 66-53.

“Anytime that you make a run the way we did, the last thing I said in our last press conference before we left San Antonio was, ‘We’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to make a deep run,’” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said Friday. “It only fuels you and only inspires you with returning to Bloomington, and starting your work all over again.”

Like Maryland and Iowa, Indiana is returning all five of its starters for the 2021-22 season. The Hoosiers finished 16-2 in conference play last season — second behind only Maryland.

Senior Ali Patberg is returning to Indiana for her seventh season of college basketball. Patberg started all 27 games for Indiana last season, averaging 14 points per game. 

Indiana is also returning graduate student Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, junior Mackenzie Holmes, and seniors Grace Berger and Aleksa Gulbe to its starting lineup.

“Anytime you have vets, five returners, practice is a little bit different,” Moren said. “I think it’s more efficient now. We’re moving through things a little quicker than we did a year ago. I do think they’ve been great examples for those young kids of what it looks like and should look like. But it is a different feeling. When you have those five that are returning, there’s not a wasted day in our program.”

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