By Carl Adamec
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer can make some history Saturday when her Scarlet Knights take on the third-ranked University of Connecticut women’s basketball team at the Rutgers Athletic Center (4 p.m., SNY). The Hall of Fame coach is seeking her 900th career win.
But here’s a little history: Stringer would be the first to reach 900 on her home floor.
Tennessee’s Pat Summitt was the first to 900 with an 80-68 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2006. Texas’ Jody Conradt got her 900th and final win when the Longhorns topped Missouri 70-57 in the first round of the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City on March 6, 2007. North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell reached the milestone on Feb. 7 when the Tar Heels walloped hapless Boston College 80-52 at Conte Forum.
Stringer has already been denied in her first bid for 900 when DePaul defeated Rutgers 60-57 last Tuesday in Chicago. But of the three coaches that have 900 wins, only Summitt got it on her first try. Texas lost to Texas A&M 67-60 a week before Conradt got her milestone win while North Carolina was routed by Duke 84-63 in Hatchell’s first attempt Feb. 3 in Chapel Hill.
So Stringer hopes the third time is the charm for second chances. If she falls short Saturday, the road will be tough. The Scarlet Knights visit Syracuse on Tuesday and then are at St. John’s next Saturday. The Red Storm have already beaten Rutgers at the RAC.
UConn (23-1 overall, 10-1 Big East) has won nine straight against Rutgers (14-9, 5-5) and leads the overall series 29-6. The Huskies’ longest winning streak in the series is 12 from March 3, 1998 (the Big East tournament final) until Feb. 3, 2005. The Scarlet Knights then won five of the next eight including a victory in the 2007 Big East tournament championship. Their last win was Feb. 5, 2008, 73-71 at the RAC — one of only two losses Maya Moore suffered at the hands of a Big East opponent (Notre Dame was the other at the 2011 Final Four).
Stringer has an 8-29 record against fellow Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma of UConn. Since Auriemma became the head coach of the Huskies in 1985, his teams have won 827 games while Stringer’s have won 611.
Since Stringer took over at Rutgers when it joined the Big East in 1995-96, Auriemma has won 29 more games (600) than Stringer has coached (379-192, for 571). UConn has won 12 Big East regular season championships outright and shared two others in that span while Rutgers has won two Big East regular season championships outright and shared one.
Since Rutgers joined the Big East it is 48-30 in the postseason (23-16 Big East; 25-14 NCAAs in 14 appearances). In that same period, UConn is 119-14 in the postseason (47-3 Big East, 72-11 NCAAs in 17 appearances). UConn is 8-1 versus Rutgers in the postseason (7-1 Big East tournament, 1-0 NCAA). UConn has won 14 Big East Tournament championships compared to one for Rutgers. UConn has made the NCAA Final Four 11 times compared to two for Rutgers. The national championship scoreboard is UConn 6, Rutgers 0.
Saturday’s meeting could be the last at the RAC, where the Huskies are 9-4. Rutgers is hoping to leave for the Big Ten in 2014-15.