Dance Card: Rutgers, Big East

Who? The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. Not Lady Knights. Lady Knights are dames, and while there's nothing like a dame, it's not a terribly intimidating team name.

What? Knights were considered a bit more intimidating than Chanticleers (which a couple of schools in South Carolina might disagree with). It also seems appropriate for the former Queen's College to be represented and protected by Knights.

Where? Piscataway, New Jersey. Or possibly New Brunswick. It's not exactly clear sometimes.

When? March 17th, in Spokane, Washington.

How? They were an at-large selection.

Surprise? There was a stretch where things looked shaky, but Rutgers is too good and played too many tough opponents.

RPI: 13

SOS: 12

Record: 22-9 (10-6 Big East)

Good wins: Georgia Tech in San Juan.

Bad losses: None of the teams are shameful, but especially during the five-game losing streak in conference play, when they lose, they lose ugly.

Who's running this show? C. Vivian Stringer, since 1995, who's taken three schools to the Final Four.

Extra, Extra! The Newark Star-Ledger.

If Rutgers, then defense. That's been the formula for a very, very long time. Theirs is not a frenetic, steal-crazy defense that will have you tearing out your hair; theirs is a methodical denial of space and comfort that frustrates and infuriates.

They do need to score a little, though. Seniors April Sykes and Khadijah Rushdan each average 13 points to lead the Scarlet Knights. Sykes can be streaky and a bit too fond of the long ball. Khadijah Rushdan is one of the first players I would choose if my life depended on a ten-point second half comeback- not for the 13 points, the 5.8 rebounds, the 3.4 assists, but for a willingness to step up and take everything and everyone on her shoulders in crunch time that you'd have to parse a lot of stats to put down in black and white.

One of the keys for this team is going to be feeding junior center Monique Oliver in the post. If they get her the ball, she's powerful enough to get it into the basket. They do tend to forget about her more than they should, though.

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