2021 BIG TEN BASKETBALL MEDIA DAYS Oct. 7-8, 2021 • Indianapolis, Ind. (Gainbridge Fieldhouse) Follow Big Ten Basketball on: Twitter (@bigten
NJ Advance Media has learned Stringer, 73, has stepped away from her day-to-day coaching duties in order to not get sick and to care for her family, including her daughter, Janine, 40, who has needed special care since contracting spinal meningitis at age 2.
Stringer has been away from her team since April, two people with knowledge of the situation told NJ Advance Media. The two people both said Stringer will not be in attendance for Big Ten Media Day in Indianapolis on Thursday.
Tim Eatman, the team’s associate head coach, has been leading the team in recent months and will fill in for Stringer at Big Ten Media Day, the people said.
The two people requested anonymity because the situation is related to Stringer’s health. Stringer and Eatman were not available for comment Wednesday.
As for the question of whether Stringer might miss parts or all of the upcoming season, Rutgers officials told NJ Advance Media the Naismith Hall of Fame could be back at any point between now and the Nov. 9 opener against St. Peter’s. It’s believed that Stringer is using the sick time she’s accumulated over her 26-year Rutgers career, two people with knowledge of the situation told NJ Advance Media.
This is my third time in this role at Rutgers. The first time was when Coach Stringer lost her mother. The second time was when Coach took a leave of absence because of exhaustion. I am so thankful that this time has nothing to do with neither one.
Now, if you all know Coach, she's always asked of you to do the almost impossible. Right before I left, she said to me, Tim, do not let this press conference be about me. Keep the press conference focused on the players and the team.
I said, Okay.
I took a deep breath and I said to myself, Good luck with that, Timothy Eatman.
Q. Your experience in 2019, I think it was seven games as acting coach, is that something you look back on now? At what point do you believe this might be a permanent thing or a long-term thing that goes into the season?
TIM EATMAN: Well, since you've been around our program a long time, and you know that Coach always has one voice. Right now the plan hasn't changed, but the voice is mine right now
The one thing that Coach always believes in is that you can only have one voice because you don't want to have confusion with the players. Her favorite statement is, when you ask her, "Coach, when do you want me to do this," she always looks at you and says, "Yesterday."
We want Coach back yesterday, but we understand that she's trying to find a way through this pandemic. 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.
Whether it's tomorrow, whether it's next month, or whether it's for the first game, Coach has an opportunity to do what she needs to do because she knows she has a staff at home that's going to take care of business.
Q. Sydney Hilliard was one of your best players last year. Talk about her improvement from this season to what you've seen so far since you've arrived in Madison.
MARISA MOSELEY: Yeah, she has been just incredible. Talking about inheriting great kids, her work ethic, how hard she works, and her leadership was kind of leading by example. Really excited about what she's going to be able to do. She's worked really hard on her outside shooting to become more of a triple threat, be able to score at all three levels.
Anyone that played against her in the past knows she can get to the rim at will, she has a great mindset, but she's also figured out how to play with other great players on the floor.
She led us in assists last year. I'm excited for her to be able to do a little bit more of that as well as scoring. Just all around a great kid. I'm excited for her to be a Badger
Q. How has having five starters back this year allowed you to maybe take things to a new level in the off-season in your preparation?
TERI MOREN: Well, anytime you have vets, five returners, practice is a little bit different. 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. This is sort of the last go-around with Ali Patberg, I swear to God it is. This is it. I don't think we're going to get her back for an additional year. But the Aleksa Gulbes and Nicki and that group.
This is a really special, tight-knit, great chemistry group. So they've not -- they're just fun to work with every single day. We know as a staff that we're really lucky to coach these young women.
I like our team. I think I have one of the great guards in college basketball in Veronica Burton. Won a gold medal with USA Basketball this summer. She just makes me a really good coach on game day. Really have a top 10 recruiting class with freshmen. I don't really like rankings, but we have five freshmen I think are really going to help us. Coming off a great year. Coming off a COVID year where we won the Big Ten championship, felt like we were going to make a deep run in the NCAA.
We're still trying to build off of that. We lost Lindsey Pulliam who was drafted in the WNBA, scored 2,000 points. Trying to find out how to replace her. She's playing right now in Turkey. Probably scored 30 today.
Q. Can you talk about what Matilda brings to the team this year and the impact she's had so far.
SUZY MERCHANT: Sure. So he's referring to Matilda Ekh on our team. Last year, another fun part of COVID in the pandemic, she is from Sweden, and we could not get her out of the country. We tried everything we possibly could. But due to the COVID and the pandemic, we certainly couldn't get her out. Again, we tried everything.
It was tough to get her here this year. She had to get her student visa from another country to come to the U.S. On top of that being a challenge, what she brings to the team, a National Team player for the Swedish team. She's been doing that since she's been 17 years old.
She's a typical European player. She can shoot it, handle it, she can be a one, two, three in our system. Technically she could be a four if needed.
Very dynamic, but very even-keeled. She experienced. Even though she's a freshman and the first time on our campus, you feel like she's a junior or senior in terms of how she plays the game. She's going to add so much to our team this year, no question.