WATCH NOW - MEDIA DAY INTERVIEW WITH KHADIJAH RUSHDAN
The BIG Picture
Coming off its 12th NCAA Championship appearance in the last 15 seasons, Rutgers is once again poised to create waves across the college basketball landscape. RU has three starters and six letterwinners returning this year. Interestingly the Scarlet Knights’ roster touts no seniors. Junior guard Khadijah Rushdan will be counted on to increase her scoring, along with classmate and forward Chelsey Lee. Tough defense has always been a calling card for the Scarlet Knights and under the direction of head coach C. Vivian Stringer Rutgers should once again be a force in the league.
The most notable returning performers are junior guard Khadijah Rushdan and junior forward Chelsey Lee, the two leading returning scorers. Rushdan accounted for a large portion of the Scarlet Knights total offensive production, averaging 9.0 ppg (second on team) and a team-high 3.6 assists. Lee had a notable increase in production chipping in 7.2 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds, including five double-doubles. Forward/guard April Sykes (5.6 points) also would be counted on.
Brittany Ray was not just the team’s leading scorer (14.2 ppg), but also the squad’s emotional anchor. The three-year starter closed her collegiate career ranked No. 2 all-time in 3-pointers (189) in the RU record book. Ray, a 2009-10 All-BIG EAST Second Team honoree, drained 66 3-pointers last season - the third-highest single season total in RU history. Also departed to graduation are Myia McCurdy and Rashidat Junaid – both key components. McCurdy earned a starting spot last season in 22 of 34 games, averaging a team second-best 4.5 rebounds. Junaid - a back-up to Lee in the middle - averaged 5.7 points.
Last season, Rutgers grinded its way to a 19-15 record, including a 9-7 mark in conference play. Bouyed by the fourth-toughest schedule in the country, the Scarlet Knights qualified for their eighth straight NCAA Championship. That experience should pay dividends for the Scarlet Knights this fall. With the addition of junior college transfer forward Julie Paunovic, and highly regarded freshmen Briana Hutchen and Daisha Simmons, Rutgers should challenge for another NCAA berth.