Friday, March 9, 2007

Rutgers Weekend Preview

Fresh off their first-ever BIG EAST Tournament title, the Rutgers women’s basketball team will now focus all their attention on the NCAA Women's Basketball Selection Special. Hosted by ESPN, the show will be televised live nationally at 8 p.m. Monday night. In the most recent projection of tournament seeding on, ESPN women’s basketball expert Charlie Crème has the Scarlet Knights slated to be a #4 seed. For more on the women's basketball team, visit Rutgers women's basketball.

After winning the final game of the series against #14 Georgia Tech last weekend, the Scarlet Knights’ baseball team will head to Florida International for a three-game series this weekend. Coach Fred Hill needs two more wins to reach the 900 mark for his career, in his 31st season of coaching and 24th on the Banks. For the full weekend preview, visit baseball.

Both lacrosse teams will again be in action this weekend as the men’s team opens up conference play when it faces Fairfield on Saturday in Fairfield, CT. The women’s team will host Loyola (Md) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the RU Turf Field on Busch Campus. Women's lacrosse news can be found at women's lax. For more men's lacrosse coverage, visit men's lax.

The Rutgers softball team will travel to Philadelphia on Saturday to take on Drexel. Game time is 1 p.m. More softball news can be found at softball.

In other sports, both tennis teams will head to Miami this weekend, with matches scheduled for Sunday for both the men’s and women’s teams. The women’s track and field team will travel to Fayetteville, AR to compete in the NCAA Championships on Friday and Saturday, while the men’s and women’s golf teams will begin spring training on Friday in Scottsdale,AZ.

For more information on all Rutgers Athletic events, visit

Coffee, Bagels and the News

Rutgers held Pro Day in the Bubble yesterday, and the media was invited to watch some of the action. I, however, was there for much longer, and will try to give a little more detail on the goings on of what was really an impressive day.

The biggest moment of the day was clearly Joe Porter's 40-yard dash time of 4.28. Porter, one of the best sprinters in BIG EAST history, didn't disappoint with an initial run of 4.31. Porter came back with a second run of 4.28 and word spread throughout the crowd as quickly as, well, as quickly as Joe could run it. The first few people behind the scouts caught a glance at the time and eyes lit up. "4.28" you heard one player say, who passed it to another then another then another. People hear a lot about the 40 and watching it on TV during the combine doesn't do it justice. Sub 4.3 is crazy fast. There's no other way to say it. You can't imagine someone running that fast.

Several Scarlet Knights enhanced their profile with the scouts yesterday, but none more than Derrick Roberson. Roberson ran a 4.34, which is very impressive. What's more impressive is that he stumbled slightly coming out of the gates and still managed that time.

To put those times in perspective, the official times at the NFL combine are posted at, and for the defensive backs, the fastest time was 4.32. It's been noted that hand timing can be less accurate than digital timing, but Roberson and Porter have proven they are as fast as any d-backs in the Draft.

Roberson showed his prowess elsewhere, leaping 42.5 inches in the vertical. That is so high, he jumped above all the pegs, touching above the top one. At the combine, only three d-backs jumped over 40 inches, with the best overall at the combine being 41.

The position workouts were varying, with some scouts really going hard on the prospects. The offensive linemen went first, and had a very intense workout, with nearly every one of the more than 50 scouts watching intently. Clark Harris had, quite possibly, the most demanding session, working one-on-one with Giants tight end coach Mike Pope on a lot of tight end specific drills, while Giants scouts and scouts from several other teams looked on.

To get quotes, and more perspective on the pro day, read Aditi, Franklin and the Ledger NFL writer Mike Garafolo.

• While basketball season is over for the men, head coach Fred Hill never stops (and seemingly never sleeps). Read Tom Luicci's column as he spent the day with Hill.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Coffee, Bagels and the News

The byproduct of playing games in prime time is that reporters on deadline can't get both a game story and a sidebar or column in the paper. That's good for us, as it got the women's basketball team two days of coverage in the papers.

• Paul Franklin of the Home News thinks that this season might be coach Stringer's best coaching job yet.

• Aditi Kinkhabwala wrote in The Record that coach Stringer kept the Scarlet Knights calm, cool and collected.

• Bridget Wentworth of the Star Ledger gets two stories in, one about Matee Ajavon's redemption and one talking about how the Big East title will help Rutgers' draw in the NCAA tourney.

• In other RU sports, freshman Justin Pennington was named ECAC Men's Lax Rookie of the week. Inside Lacrosse has the story.

• I've been getting flack for not having more Targum stories, so here are links to four of them today.

Brian Johnson looks at the future of the men's basketball program.

Nick Pauly previews the baseball team's Spring Break, while Brian Skirka takes a look at the upcoming softball trip.

Stephen K. Lee implores Rutgers students to come out and support the Scarlet Knights.

• Last news clip of the day has nothing to do with Rutgers, aside the fact that the events Steve Politi described happened at the RAC last night. I wanted to add this clip, if for nothing else, to show how much people care about sports in New Jersey. This is a great state to live in for sports, especially high school sports. Read the column here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Big East Report

With last night's Big East Tournament victory over conference powerhouse Connecticut, to whom the Scarlet Knights had already lost twice this season, the No. 19 Rutgers women's basketball team registered its first-ever Big East tournament title. The championship adds to the Scarlet Knights' consecutive regular-season Big East titles in each of the last two seasons.

By beating the Huskies - a team that has appeared in 17 of the last 19 tournament titles games - the Scarlet Knights won their first-ever game at the Hartford Civic Center and their first Big East tournament game against UConn.

Of the four Big East Championship games in which Rutgers has appeared, three of those had come against Connecticut, all losses. Rutgers' all-time record against the rival is now 7-20, but the Scarlet Knights are 4-4 in the last eight contests against the Huskies.

Coffee, Bagels and the News

Big news of the day of course.....the snow that is hitting us in March. Oh...wait....there was a basketball game last night?

Congrats to the women's basketball team for taking down UConn and taking home the BIG EAST Championship.

There were lots of stories about the game last night, so we'll link to a few here.

• First, on the national platform, ESPN's Graham Hays had his take on the title game. Read it here.

ESPN's Nancy Lieberman took the angle that the loss won't hurt UConn, before giving Rutgers its due.

• CSTV's Jeff Lippman talked about how winning ugly was "oh so pretty" for RU.

• Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs thinks that coach Stringer deserves those tears of joy.

• Locally, you can read the the daily Aditi story here. I know I said no game stories, but I liked this one.

Paul Franklin of the Home News gets the quote of the night award. Franklin wrote, "Ajavon was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player, and, upon receiving the huge trophy yelled to the fans, "Ray Rice for the Heisman!"

Thanks for the help Matee, and thanks for the plug, Paul. Read his take on the game here.

• If you want to watch the post game press conference, go to to check out the video. If you are a Mac user, like myself, you're out of luck, but you can go to for photos and full coverage.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

In My Opinion: Rutgers Rival

(Editor's Note: This post, titled 'In my Opinion', will be done (mostly) by the student assistants in the Athletic Communications office. These topics will be diverse and hopefully the columns will be though provoking, and if nothing else, a little escape from your daily grind. In this case, below, it's a long escape.)

With the highly publicized BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Championship coming down to Rutgers and Connecticut on Tuesday night, it led to me thinking about the rivalry that has emerged between the two schools in women’s basketball. Rutgers and UConn have been bitter rivals on the hardwood for years, and over the last few seasons the BIG EAST regular season and tournament titles have seen them square off in very meaningful games. However, while no one doubts that UConn is Rutgers’ biggest rival in women’s basketball, it brings up the question of who is the Scarlet Knights’ biggest rival overall? Although RU may have one or two rivals in a specific sport it’s an interesting debate as to whether an overall rival exists.

Here is a a look at the possible candidates:

Princeton is by-far the oldest rival of Rutgers, but over the last 20-30 years the two schools have gone in different directions. Although the Scarlet Knights still face off against the Tigers annually in many sports, the two teams have not played in football since 1980. Also, since the Tigers are a part of the Ivy League, they (like Rutgers) have developed some of their own conference rivalries. Rutgers plays many BIG EAST schools more than once a year in each sport, battling with them to finish higher in the standings, which gives these relationships more impact and more fire. Although, Rutgers and Princeton will always be remembered for playing in the first ever college football game, it is hard to justify the Tigers being RU’s biggest rival in this day and age.

The BIG EAST Schools
Although the Scarlet Knights have played some meaningful games against BIG EAST newcomers Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida, the lack of history and geographical locations of the schools makes it hard to justify them as being a rival to Rutgers. Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Providence, Villanova and West Virginia are schools that Rutgers has played against since joining the BIG EAST, but none of them have truly developed into a strong rival for Rutgers based on location or the fact that they have their own previously developed rivalries. Although St. John’s can make a case to be Rutgers rival because of their close location to RU, the Red Storm does not field a football team and has never developed a true history with the Scarlet Knights. Notre Dame has also played Rutgers consistently since joining the BIG EAST, but they developed their own rivalries well before joining the conference and, like the other schools mentioned, lack a true history with RU in all sports.

However, there are three BIG EAST schools that do seem to fit the mold of a rival for Rutgers – Seton Hall, Syracuse and Connecticut.

Seton Hall
Seton Hall is a logical candidate because it’s located in New Jersey and compete in the BIG EAST. The Pirates play the Scarlet Knights at least three times a year in basketball (combining both men’s and women’s) with the men’s home game against the Pirates being arguably the most important game of the year for Rutgers fans. There is no other team that fans get more joy out of beating than Seton Hall, and I think that the same can be said of how many Pirate fans feel about beating RU. The Pirates have also been playing Rutgers in men’s basketball since 1916, and the two teams have been extremely competitive over the last six years with Seton Hall holding a slight 8-7 edge. Outside of basketball, the Pirates also face off against the Scarlet Knights in every other sport in which they both compete in the BIG EAST. However, with Rutgers gaining national acclaim because of football, it is hard to say that a school that does not have a football team can be RU's overall rival. This is where the other BIG EAST football schools come in.

The Orange have always had a tough time coming down to New Jersey to face RU, especially in men’s basketball where Rutgers has taken four out of the last seven games at the RAC. Even back when RU was struggling in football, they still had a little extra something when Syracuse came to town. Most notably when Rutgers beat the Orange for RU’s only win in 1999 or when the Scarlet Knights closed out the 2003 season with a 24-7 win over the Orange for only their second BIG EAST win of the year. The two schools often recruit the same athletes and have been competing against each other in several sports, including lacrosse, since the early 20th century. However, Syracuse’s athletic identity as one of the original BIG EAST members makes it more natural to have a rivalry with Georgetown because of their basketball history together. While Rutgers’ history with Syracuse lacks that of other schools, the next few years will decide whether 'Cuse is another BIG EAST foe or a true RU rival.

UConn has the location to be Rutgers’ rival as the two schools are located only a few hours apart. The Huskies are already seen as RU’s biggest foe in women’s basketball as stated above and the Huskies and Scarlet Knights have also developed a close rivalry in football over the past four seasons. The fact that the two schools are state universities on the east coast also leads to many of the same athletes looking at both schools when it comes to recruiting and the two schools have been consistently competitive in athletics over the last ten years in most sports. It also doesn’t hurt that the fans of both schools show a deep disdain for each other as evidenced on many online message boards where both sides constantly insult each other (or so I have heard from many friends). Over the next few years look for the two to remain competitive overall and develop a real rivalry that will be acknowledged on a national basis.

Coffee, Bagels and the News

• The women's basketball team rolls into the Big East Championship to face off against rival UConn tonight. Aditi Kinkhabwala took an interesting angle with her story of RUs win over Marquette in the semis, focusing on the challenge Coach Stringer gave to Defensive Player of the Year Essence Carson at halftime.

John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant had a very balanced view from the Connecticut side.

• Sam Donnellon of the Philly Daily News caught up with Greg Schiano and Ray Rice at the Maxwell Awards dinner this weekend. Read Donnellon's piece on Schiano's Place.

• In other news, the women's lacrosse team is off to a great start this season - winning the first three games of the season - and is ranked in the current Inside Lacrosse media poll. Check out the poll here.

• Ryan Hill, left fielder for the baseball team, was named Louisville Slugger Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week for his efforts against Georgia Tech. Hill was 7-for-11 (.636) at the plate with three home runs and six RBI. Hill also scored eight runs, and had an on base percentage of .750. To read the release, click here. To check out Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, visit

Monday, March 5, 2007

Today in Rutgers Athletics History

(Editor's note: Starting today, we are introducing a new posting, called Today in Rutgers Athletics History. We will try our best to get a post up for as many days as possible. If you know of something you think would be good to post, please let us know.)

On March 5, 2005, Rutgers senior Andy Roy finished as the runner up at the EIWA Championships at the 174 pound weight class, becoming the first Scarlet Knight wrestler to ever earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships for four consecutive years.

Roy finished his illustrious career “On the Banks” ranked ninth in career wins with 102. He capped his career off with a 25-5 overall record as a senior.

Roy was also the recipient of the Ted Petty Most Valuable Wrestler award three times and, in 2005, won the Donald Leslie Coursen Award, given to the most outstanding male athlete at Rutgers.

Rutgers weekend round-up

After junior duo Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson led the Rutgers women’s basketball team to a 63-55 quarterfinal win over DePaul in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals, the Scarlet Knights (20-8) prepare for tonight’s semifinal match-up with Marquette at 8 p.m. at the Hartford Civic Center.

Ajavon netted a game-high 21 points while Carson chipped in 18, fresh off being named the Big East Defender of the Year for the second straight season, as the Scarlet Knights held off the sharp-shooting Blue Demons after dropping their first meeting earlier in the season. Marquette beat Pittsburgh 61-51 to advance. In the other section of the bracket, Louisville will face top-seeded Connecticut in the 6 p.m. game.

For more information on Rutgers’ tournament run, visit Rutgers Women's Basketball.

In other basketball news over the weekend, the men’s basketball team closed out the regular season with a tough loss to Notre Dame Saturday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,011. The Scarlet Knights finished the season 10-19 (3-13 in the Big East).

On Senior Day, it was Marquis Webb and Adrian Hill who stepped up for RU. Hill finished his career with his fourth career double-double, leading the team with 16 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. Webb chipped in 13 points. Read more at
Men's Basketball

The baseball team gave head coach Fred Hill the 750th win with the Scarlet Knights with a 9-5 win over No. 14 Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon. Rutgers had dropped the first two games in the series before pulling out the win in the finale. Senior Tim Querns was hot, going 3-for-3 with five RBIs in the win. For more baseball news, click here.

The Rutgers softball team went 2-2 over the weekend, splitting their games at the UNC Tournament in Chapel Hill with wins over Appalachian State and Liberty. Read more in Softball.

The men’s lacrosse team fell to 1-1 on the early season with a 7-5 loss to No. 14 Delaware Saturday in Newark. More men's lacrosse news here.

In women’s lacrosse news, the Scarlet Knights registered the 15-12 win over Delaware at home to improve to 3-0 on the season for the first time since 1990. More about the game here.

The diving teams saw strong performances from several athletes as Rutgers hosted the Zone Championships this weekend. Andre Watson finished sixth on the one-meter board, while on the women’s side took 17th on the three-meter board. All swimming and diving coverage can be found at Swimming and Diving.

The men’s track and field finished in a three-way tie at the IC4A competition this weekend, as the women tied for 21st at the ECAC meet. More about the meets at ECAC/IC4As.

The wrestling team finished its season at the EIWA Championships Saturday, taking 11th place in the team standings while junior Mike Whalen posted sixth place individually. For more visit EIAW Championships.

The Rutgers gymnastics team (13-2) posted its highest team score of the season to pick up a 192.575-190.350 win over Cornell in the team’s last home meet of the season. The rest of your gymnastics news can be found at Gymnastics.

Coffee, Bagels and the News

Lots of events to talk about today, and we'll address most of them in our Weekend Recap later today. Here's a look at some of the news clips from the weekend.

Bridget Wentworth of the Star Ledger focused on the defensive prowess of Big East Defensive Player of the Year Essence Carson in her piece leading up to the Big East tournament game against DePaul. Carson held Allie Quigley to 11 points on 4-14 shooting, including 0-7 from beyond the arc.

Here is Aditi Kinkhabwala's story of the game, focused on the stellar play of Matee Ajavon. Read her notebook as well.

• Keith Sargeant wrote nice story looking back at the career of Marquis Webb.

Aditi had her own story about the Rutgers captain.

CSTV has the story of the Rutgers baseball team defeating No. 14 Georgia Tech in the series finale this weekend. The baseball team is now 5-4 on the season before heading back south for spring break later in the week.

• Rutgers football recruit Alex Silvestro had a great weekend, winning the NJ State Championship, wrestling at the 215-pound weight class. Read the Gloucester County Times article on the weekend by Bill Evans.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Rutgers Weekend Preview

The 2006-07 Big East women’s basketball tournament starts this weekend at the Hartford Civic Center, and No. 18 Rutgers (19-8), as the conference’s second seed, received a first-round bye along with top-seeded UConn. The Scarlet Knights — winners of eight of their last 10 — will play the winner of the Notre Dame/DePaul contest on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The Scarlet Knights will be looking to erase the memory of last season, when they suffered a painful 56-40 upset loss to West Virginia in the quarters.

Winners of two of the last three regular-season titles, the Scarlet Knights are still in search of their first Big East tournament title. The festivities actually start tonight, with the Big East awards banquet. If Rutgers advances, the semifinal games will take place Monday night, with the finals Tuesday at 7. Should the seedings hold, the Scarlet Knights could see another shot at the No. 3 Huskies. For more on the women's basketball team, visit Rutgers women's basketball.

The men’s basketball team will play its final game of the season at home when it hosts Notre Dame tomorrow at 4 p.m. The game will also mark the final game for seniors Marquis Webb, Adrian Hill, Frank Russell, Jason Cherry, Jon Mimmo, and Shayle Keating. Those players will be honored during the Senior Day presentation. For more on men's basketball, visit men's basketball.

Rutgers baseball will go in search of its third-straight series this weekend, traveling to Atlanta to take on No. 14 Georgia Tech for a three-game set over today, tomorrow, and Sunday. Head coach Fred Hill needs only three more wins to reach the 900 mark for his career, in his 31st season of coaching and 24th on the Banks. For the full weekend preview, visit baseball.

Rutgers softball will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the University of North Carolina Tournament. More softball news can be found at softball.

Both lacrosse squads will be in action, with the women (2-0) looking to build on the program's best start since 1999 by taking on Delaware at home tomorrow at 1 p.m. The men will also face the Blue Hens, traveling to the Delaware campus for a 1 p.m. start tomorrow as well. Women's lacrosse news can be found at women's lax. For more men's lacrosse coverage, visit men's lax.

In other sports, the track teams compete in their respective championships, as the women's team travels to the ECAC Championship, with the men competing in the IC4A Championship, both in Boston. The wrestling team travels to the EIWA Championships this weekend, while the Swimming and Diving program hosts the Zone Diving Championships at the Sonny Werblin Rec Center. Gymnastics will host Cornell on Saturday at the Livingston Gym. The tennis teams are both in action on one of the busiest weekends of the year, as the women's team travels to Columbia on Saturday and the men host Hofstra on Sunday.

For all your Rutgers sports news, check out

Coffee, Bagels and the News

Mother nature decided to introduce herself to my ceiling this morning, so the news is a little later than I had hoped.

• First, big news for Rutgers fans who are also followers of the NY Giants. Shaun O'Hara is staying home. O'Hara signed a five year deal worth up to $19, including a $7.5 million signing bonus. That's great news for the Giants, and obviously, great news for one of the best (and frankly, nicest) Scarlet Knights in recent memory. To read the full story, click here.

• If you heard the horrible news that a bus carrying a baseball team in Atlanta crashed, with six people on the bus being killed, Scarlet Knight fans will be contextually relieved to know that it was not the Rutgers team. I just got a text message from Director of Baseball Operations Darren Fenster, who told me that the team is safe and sound.

Our hearts go out to the members of the Bluffton University athletic family. To read the full story, go to the Atlanta Journal Constitution website at

• Late edition find...Tom Luicci has his All-BIG EAST selections out, and Marquis Webb is his Defensive Player of the Year.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Coffee, Bagels and the News

Okay, today I put my bagel in the toaster and was trying to decide on cream cheese or butter (well, margarine). In a strange twist, I went for both! Cream cheese on one side and margarine on the other. After putting each respective spread on my raisin bagel of the day, I had the quandary of which to eat first. It became a tougher decision than one would think.

So my talk of bagel spreads is not just to tie in the recurring headline of this daily post, but rather to distract you from the fact that there is very little news to talk about.

The only real news from yesterday was the fact that Shawn Tucker's Rutgers career has come to an official and unfortunate end. While several news organizations have the story up, news broke late in the day, so there wasn't time for columnists to wax nostalgic about Tucker. Let me take a minute to say that Shawn Tucker is one of the nicest student-athletes I have ever met. With all the hurdles he had to face in his career, Tuck handled everything with class and character, always putting the team before himself. Always. I think we all hope that Tuck gets a chance to show the NFL scouts what he can do.

To read the full story, including Tuck's comments, go to and read it here.

(Oh, and if you care, it was cream cheese first. I stand by that decision.)