By (Irish) Jack Ireland
It’s time again to write about my favorite women’s college basketball player and it’s not University of Delaware superstar Elena Delle Donne.
Oh yes, Delle Donne is a once in a lifetime player with so many skills and knowledge of the game. Elena is sdo much fun to watch and has put Delaware women’s basketball on the map. If you have never seen her play, check the home schoele today and get to the Bob Carpeter Center to see her and the 15th ranked Hens in action.
However, the young lady I admire most is St. Elizabeth High graduate and Rutgers fifth year senior guard Khadijah Rushdan.
Who can forget those classic games between St. Elizabeth, led by Rushdan, and Ursuline, featuring the almost unstoppable Delle Donne.
I know some New York and north Jersey papers naturally cover Rutgers on a regular basis in all major sports, especiually football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball
The coverage and feature stories on her bty the Jersey papers and publications, has been impressive.
I was e-mailed a story two years ago that appeared in one of the najor New York papers about Rushdan. It was a great human interest piece on a young girl who fought off serious knee injuries to become a starter in one of the top national Division I women’s program under Hall of Fame coach Vivian Stringer.
Rushdan was highly recruited by Stringer and even made three starts in the first eight games in 2007-08. Then she tore her anterior cruciate ligamet in the right knee that ended her freshman season. Rushdan received a medical redshirt, but it was a long and tedious rehab for Rushdan.
Rushdan battled some serious knee problems in hugh school, yet always came back. I beleive the college injury did prevent Rushdan from becoming a poential All-American guard.
The thing is Rushdan refused to give up and has become one of the best overall players in Rutgers history.
Yet, except for a story here or there or a short brief, our local daily paper (the News Journal) has practically ignored Rushdan.
And we all know how much media attention (written, photo and internet Delle Donne receives.
I do know of one reporter (who I won’t name) who wrote about Rushdan several times in the local NJ Crossroads and even regular sports section.
Lets get one thing straight I am loyal to the end when it comes sto the News Journal. After all I worked there for 35 1/2 years. But, I think Rushdan has been shortchanged during her gutsy, comenback career at Rutgers.
Rutgers goes against the likes of Connecticut, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Stanford on A a regular basis, not to mention several other strong teams in the Big East.
There is no real comparison in the style of play by Elena and Khadijah.
Delle Donne is smooth in every respect, but can be tough inside, great moves and will step out and nail the three.
Rushdan is old school. Hustles all over the court, dves for lose balls, a slasher, excellent defensive guard who can burn you at the offensive end or dishing off to teammates. She rarely shoots the thre, but teams better not leave her alone at that distance in a big spot.
Rushdan has started 107 out of 125 games to date in her career.
For the past two years Rushdan has not only picked up her overall game, but has definitely become Stringer’s leader
Through 20 games (17-3 overall, 6-1 in the Big East Conference), Rushdan is averaging 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals for the 11th ranked Knights. Rushdan is shooting 51.6 percent from the field (98-190), up from 41.3 last sdeason.
Rushdan has been under the radar to DelleDoone through high school and college.
Well, Rushdan has proved this year she can do it in the clutch and showed that is a comeback 65-64 conference win over No. 23 DePaul Tuesday (Jan. 24) in the RAC on campus in New Brunswick, N.J..
Rutgers wiped out a 16 point second haf deficit and Rushdan hit the game winning basket with 1.5 seconds left. She scored 24 points, including the last 11 for Rutgers. She single-handily outscored DePaul 11.4 in the final 3:40 of play.
Over the past three games (heading into Saturday’s matchup at Georgetown), Rushdan is averaging 8.7 points in the last five minutes of those contests.
In 125 games Rushdan has scored 1,157, moving into 23rd place on the Rutgers scoring list.
To date she has 57 double figure scoring games (14 this year).
Last year Rushdan stepped up, averaged 11.8 points and shot 74.4 percent from the foul line. She led the Big East in assists (5.2 a game). Khadijah was fourth in the conference in assist to turnover ratio (1.6).
Rutgers posted a 20-13 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national champion Texas A&M.
Rushdan was a second team All Big East selection and named the Rutgers Player of the Year She has been part of three consecutive NCAA tournament teams.
Rushdan and her teammates face a major test when Rutgers host No. 2 ranked Notre Dame on Tuesday (Jan. 31).
Here is something to ponder for you Delaware fans who were used to watching Elena and Rushdan face off in the state girls basketball tournament for four years.
With Delaware and Rutgers both ranked in the top 20, wouldn’t it be great to see the two teams square off in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in March?
That’s a long way off, with plenty of important basketball yet to be played. But, if that happened the local media would be forced to write about Rushdan (I hope) in previewing that historic matchup.
For local fans in Delaware who use the excuse that Rutgers is too far of a daive (not quite two hours), there is a chance next month to travel about 40 minutes to see Rushdan.
Rutgers plays at Villanova (noon start) on Feb. 18. Getting tickets at Nova is not a problem. Get up there and watch the other great Division I player from Delaware and St. Elizabeth. Khadijan is a First State diamond in the ruff.
Smyrna’s Laney – showing her stuff at Rutgers.
Betnijah Laney was a scoring machine during her scholastic career at Smyrna High.
Laney received a scholarship to Rutgers and has become a real part of the Knights playing roation.
Laney, has started seven of 20 games. The 6-foot swing player is averaging 21 minutes and 6.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and shooting 41.7 percent from the field.
The word is Laney and Rushdan are cousins. Either way they are two Delaware players shining for the powerful Scarlet Knights.