C. Vivian Stringer has never gone through anything like the last month at Rutgers in her 50 years of coaching.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team last played on Jan. 3 and has been on pause because of COVID-19 issues in the program for the past month. They’ll finally play again on Sunday at home against Nebraska. Ironically, that was the Scarlet Knights’ last opponent before being shut down.
“I don’t know if there has been or will be anything that will help prepare anyone for this,” Stringer said. “Nothing in the world could have prepared any of us for this situation. We couldn’t even fathom something like this would happen. This COVID situation is for real and we have to be very careful and treat it with great respect.”
The Scarlet Knights had a string of positive tests in early January that put the program on pause causing four games to be postponed. Then it was a slow return to play as players became eligible again. The Big Ten requires that players be held out for 17 days minimum from their positive test results.
Stringer admitted that she wondered if her team would play again this season.
“It crossed my mind. I didn’t like to think about it,” she said. “We had gone through the things we have and then we’re cooped up and not allowed to do much of anything.”
After the 17 days, Rutgers team doctors and trainers wanted to make sure that the players were ready to go at 100%. The Scarlet Knights haven’t had a positive COVID-19 result since the first week of January and everyone who had been sidelined by it returned by Feb. 1.
Rutgers (5-3) was set to play Michigan that day, but the Wolverines were on pause. The Scarlet Knights were supposed to play Indiana on Thursday, but Rutgers didn’t have enough players to field a competitive team and it was agreed by both institutions and the Big Ten to postpone that game.
“It’s a great deal of anxiety. You’re anxious and want to play, then something happens,” Stringer said. “You think you have a game somewhere. This is terrible. We’ve been getting through it as best we can. I have to praise the players, who have done an outstanding job.”
It will be a busy month for the Scarlet Knights. who had eight games postponed while paused. They have seven games already scheduled in February and potentially more added as makeups.