PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Either Rutgers is going to the NCAA tournament or it's not going anywhere.
Coach C. Vivian Stringer said the Scarlet Knights would not play in the NIT if they missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001-02.
Following a 60-52 loss to St. John's (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) on Wednesday night, Stringer bluntly said that Rutgers (15-13, 7-7 Big East) is a longshot to make the NCAA tournament, noting only a little mercy from the selection committee or a big run in the conference tournament might change things.
"People have asked me would we got to the NIT," the Hall of Fame coach said. "I don't know anything about the NIT and I guarantee you I won't be coaching a team that goes to the NIT. So if we don't go to the NCAA, we ain't going to the NIT. That's second in my opinion, and I never will accept and never have accepted it. So don't even ask me that question, ever.
"When it's done, it's over," Stringer said.
Stringer said she would rather leave the country than stay here in March and not be involved in the NCAA tournament.
"When that happens, I get as far away from basketball games," she said. "I don't want to see anything that reminds me. I'll put a wig on and pretend that I am someone else."
Khadijah Rushdan understood her coach after losing for the seventh time in 12 games.
"Any team that is playing like this would be frustrated too," Rushdan said. "To hear our coach talk like that hurts. I don't blame here because she brings us up as not being second-class citizens and to go to the NIT would be just that. So I mean, it hurts, but I can't be mad at her for being upset."
Rutgers will close out the regular season with games at Providence and home against Louisville. The Big East Conference tournament starts on March 5.