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Women's Basketball Meets the Media
Scarlet Knights Open Up About the 2013-14 Season at Annual Media Day
  • Posted on October 24, 2013 8:30:41 PM
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  • PISCATAWAY, N.J. (October 24, 2013) – The members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team met the media on Thursday at the RAC to talk about the upcoming 2013-14 campaign.

    With a young team and a squad bitten by the injury bug last season, the 2013-14 edition of the Rutgers women’s basketball is ready to return to the spotlight. Led by Hall of Fame coach and a recent member of the 900-victory club, head coach C. Vivian Stringer returns eight letterwinners to the court and adds the nation’s top point guard along with a three-point threat and a junior transfer that will be eligible to lead the Scarlet Knights in their first and only season in the American Athletic Conference.

    Of the five sophomores on last year’s roster, RU was led by forward Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.), who averaged a team-third best 9.7 points and a team-leading 5.0 rebounds per game staring in all 30 games with 29 starts.  She stepped up in BIG EAST action where she averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

    Also up front is forward/center Christa Evans (Jackson, N.J.), who was named RU’s Most Improved Player at the year-end banquet.  Evans played a critical roll when former Scarlet Knights Monique Oliver and Chelsey Lee were sidelined with injuries last season.  She appeared in all 30 games and garnered 10 starts en route to averaging 2.1 points and 2.6 points per game.  Evans shot at a 50.9 percent clip from the field and swatted away a team second-best 22 shots.

    In the backcourt, Rutgers welcomes back guards Syessence Davis (Neptune, N.J.) and Briyona Canty (Willingboro, N.J.).  Davis filled the point guard role after Canty had season-ending knee surgery.  Davis averaged 3.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, but more importantly dished out a team-leading 90 assists.  The Neptune, N.J. native dished out a career-high 10 assists against Providence last year making it the most assists by a Scarlet Knight since 2011. Davis was also a defensive stalwart generating 52 steals. Canty was hindered by a knee injury and only made seven appearances before being sidelined.  However, after spending the winter and summer rehabbing, the Scarlet Knight is ready to return.  As a freshman she showed flashes of what she can bring to the court with 2.9 points and 3.4 rebounds along with 31 steals.  In her brief sophomore season, Canty averaged 1.1 points and 1.3 rebounds per appearance.

    Joining the group of juniors is Illinois transfer Alexis Burke (Bainbridge, Ga.).  Burke appeared in 61 games during her two seasons with the Fighting Illini. The 5-11 forward played in all 30 games and earned a career-best 12 starts during the 2011-12 campaign averaging 6.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game.

    Of last season’s newcomers, Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.), who was named to the All-BIG EAST Freshman Team, led the RU rookies in points (5.1), rebounds (3.5) and minutes (16.5).  Additionally, she garnered five starts.  Copper had four double-digit scoring games, including 10 points against George Washington in her RAC debut and a career-high 14 points against Providence.

    Precious Person (Jonesboro, Ga.) also gave RU valuable minutes in her first season as a Scarlet Knight.  Person averaged 2.0 points per game and hopes to showcase her tremendous speed up and down the court even more as a sophomore.

    Rachel Hollivay (Columbus, Miss.), who is poised to have a breakout season, also showed glimpses of what her future as a Scarlet Knight will be.  Hollivay’s role on the floor grew as the season progressed and made five starts.  She ended her rookie campaign at 5.0 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.

    Also up front is classmate Ariel Butts (Columbus, Ga.).  Butts appeared in 19 games and averaged 1.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.  However she showed her rebounding prowess with a season-high seven boards in RU wins over LIU-Brooklyn and Louisiana Tech.

    Adding to a long-line of Scarlet Knight floor generals is two-time Gatorade Arkansas Girls Basketball Player of the Year and the Preseason AAC Freshman of the Year, Tyler Scaife (Little Rock, Ark.).  The 5-9 guard enters her freshman year at Rutgers this fall ranked as the top overall point guard in the nation and ninth-rated recruit overall by ESPNU HoopGulrz.  Scaife was named the MVP of the WBCA High School All-America Game and also participated in the McDonald’s All-American Girls’ Game. Scaife led the Hall High School Warriors to a 30-2 record and the Class 6A state championship as a senior averaging 23.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.1 steals per game. A four-time all-state selection, she was named MVP of the state title game.

    Providing RU with a three-point threat is freshman Alex Alfano (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.) from Red Bank Catholic. Alfano averaged 10.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game and helped her teams to four Shore Conference Division titles.  As a senior, she helped the Caseys to a 29-2 overall record, the Non-Public-A State Championship and semifinal round of the Tournament of Champions.  Among her scholastic accolades, Alfano was named Honorable Mention All-New Jersey by MSG Varsity, a Central All-Division honoree, earned Non-Public A honors championships and was selected to play in the Shore Conference All-Star Game.

    The 2013-14 season kicks off on Nov. 10 with in-state rival Princeton at the RAC.


    Rutgers Women’s Basketball 2013 Media Day Quotes


    Redshirt junior forward Alexis Burke

    On transferring to Rutgers

    “It’s been a smooth experience. My coaches and my teammates have been there for me every step of the way and any question I had they were there to answer. I can say it’s probably been one of the smoothest processes I’ve been through.”

    On playing at the RAC for the first time

    “I’m very excited. Last year was a great year being able to practice with the team, and this summer getting to practice with them some more knowing that I would be able to play this year. It’s a great environment on and off the court so I’m very excited to be in game-like situations with this team.”


    Junior guard Syessence Davis

    On excitement entering season

    “I’m most excited about playing. I just want to play and make Coach Stringer happy. I want to win as many games as possible and go as far as possible.”

    On having a healthy team entering a new year

    “It’s very important because we’re all relying on each other. To accomplish our goals, we all need to be together as a team and be as one. If everyone is healthy we can all do what we need to do.”


    Junior forward/center Christa Evans

    On excitement entering season

    “I’m just excited to play. I’m ready to get back out onto the court with my teammates. We’ve been working so hard in the offseason just getting better. To be able to go out there and play again, it’s going to be a great experience.”

    On frontcourt relationship

    “I think we have really good chemistry and we’re just building off of last year. We know how each other plays, we know where to look for each other when we’re in the post and we’re just building. I’m really excited to play because everyone is coming back.”


    Junior guard/forward Betnijah Laney

    On areas of excitement entering the season

    “I’m just excited about going out there and playing and showing everybody what we’re capable of. A lot of people have lost confidence in us so just going out there and restoring that confidence is key.”

    On opening season in front of home crowd

    “As you know we lost to Princeton last year so hopefully we can come out this year and win. Especially since we lost and it’s our first game at home.”

    On offseason improvements

    “I worked a lot on just trying to maintain my focus and not be so anxious.”


    Redshirt sophomore guard Briyona Canty

    On recovering in the offseason

    “There has been a lot a lot of rehab. I’ve just really been strengthening my knee and the muscles around it. Basically I’ve also working on my jump shot and playing a lot over the summer so my knee gets used to playing and things like that.”

    On health entering season

    “I feel great. It comes with bad days and good days, but my bad days are nothing like last year. I feel great and I’m ready for the season to start.”

    On significance of the season-opener against Princeton

    “My thoughts are just to play as hard as I can and that the team plays as hard as it can together.”


    Sophomore forward/center Ariel Butts

    On her feelings entering the season

    “It’s my sophomore year, so I know the system. Last year was just tough, making the transition from high school to college. I’m really excited about just getting started and my team is ready and hype so we should be pretty good.”

    On team’s youth

    “I just feel like every year we’re going to continue to get better. I’m really excited about our youth.”

    On offseason improvements

    “I got in better shape than last season. This year Coach Stringer is putting that on me, saying ‘if you’re going to play, you’re going to be in shape.’ Learning the defense and offense better also helped me improve.”


    Sophomore guard Kahleah Copper

    On looking ahead to the season-opener against Princeton on Nov. 10

    “It’s a new team and I’ve got great feelings about this season. I’m just excited.”

    On the strengths of the team

    “We’re extremely quick but more importantly we pay attention to the little things that make the bigger difference. That will help us get the job done.”


    Sophomore forward Rachel Hollivay

    On entering her second season “On the Banks”

    “I’m very excited. I know that we’ve gotten better as a team and I’m looking forward to it.”

    On improving in the offseason

    “Scoring-wise I feel like I’ve improved. I’ve also gotten better on defense and feel like I’m going to bring a lot to the table on both ends.”

    On team’s youth

    “We’re young, but we have more experience. Even the freshmen that are here, they’re getting all the support from us. We all know what we’re doing and know what we have to do."

    On playing for Coach Stringer

    “It’s amazing. Every day she just seems to amaze me. She knows the game so well and what she is teaching me is making me a better player than I thought I could be.”


    Sophomore guard Precious Person

    On excitement entering season

    “I’m excited. It’s definitely been a humbling experience playing for Coach Stringer and this year I feel like it’s going to be a bright year for us. I’m excited.”

    On team’s growth from last season

    “Everybody has their hurdles to jump over. We’ve grown tremendously from last year. We’re young, but we definitely don’t take that as an excuse. We’ve got fight and Coach Stringer is going to be proud of us this year.”


    Freshman guard Alex Alfano

    On level of excitement entering first season at Rutgers

    “Everything leading up to the season has been working with the team and working in practice so this definitely gets you hyped up. I’m getting excited for the season.”

    On playing for Coach Stringer

    “It’s honestly been a great experience so far. Everything she says I pretty much just take in and it’s made me realize how much of a difference the small things make. She knows here stuff, there’s no doubt about it.”

    On team’s strengths entering the season

    “I feel that there is a really strong connection when we’re on the floor together. Everyone is always talking to each other and coming in as a freshman, they’ve made sure I fit right in with them. There is definitely that bond on the floor and that will probably get us far this season.”


    Freshman guard Tyler Scaife

    On playing at the RAC for the first time

    “I’m looking forward to it. There is a great atmosphere here and I’m looking forward to getting the win.”

    On being named Preseason American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year

    “It means a lot to me but it kind of puts a target on my back. I know that I have to stay on top of my game and continue to work hard and have a good season.”

    On the team’s strengths entering season

    “Our chemistry – I think we have very good chemistry together. I also think we’re very athletic. Those two things together are very good. We shoot the ball well too. It should be interesting to see how we play.”

    Follow Rutgers women’s basketball on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersWBB), Twitter (www.twitter.com/RutgersWBB) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/RutgersWBB) for all of the latest news and updates. Fans also receive timely information, including special offers and giveaways throughout the year on both social media outlets along with www.ScarletKnights.com.



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