Rutgers Coach Stringer:
Pondexter is a Champion

By Andrew Nicholson, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: April 13, 2006

C. Vivian Stringer has been coaching for 34 years, 11 of which have been in New Jersey at Rutgers, four of those were spent coaching new Mercury guard Cappie Pondexter. A Hall-of-Fame coach known as one of the great teachers of the game, Coach Stringer had nothing but the best to say about the Mercury’s second overall pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft.

“Cappie will take any player one-on-one and beat them, anytime and anywhere,” Stringer said of the 2006 Big East Player of the Year.

“She is a very special player, also very gifted, and she is without question the most humble person you will ever meet.

“She is a basketball purist, which is what I love about her. She only cares about the beauty of the game – to play and win and do it well. She believes in people and causes, not statistics. She is always distributing. If there were three scouts in the crowd she would pass the entire game, to make everyone else look good. She’ll fit in with anyone, because she makes everyone around her better.”

Coach Stringer loves Pondexter’s selfless attitude and game, but she also knows that Cappie can take over a game at anytime, especially in the closing minutes of a tight game.

“All I had to do is whisper in her ear, ‘Cappie, it’s time,’ and she knew what to do,” Stringer recalled.

When Pondexter was recruited out of John Marshall High School in Chicago, she could basically choose whatever college she wanted to go to. She choose Rutgers and although she was already the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Parade Magazine National Player of the Year as a senior, she came to Rutgers ready to put in hard work to improve her game. And because she was such a talent, and such a sought-after player, Stringer thought Pondexter might act like a premadona, but that wasn’t her style. She was and is a classy young lady.

When Stringer would get upset with Pondexter’s game and yell at her, Pondexter would just walk over to Stringer and say politely, “I’m just trying to lean, tell me what I did wrong.” And so practice would continue, and Pondexter would work on what she had done poorly, without talking back or making a scene.

Pondexter went back for her fifth year to improve her game at Rutgers. Besides coming back to try and win the NCAA Tournament, she wanted to be a better defender and according to Stringer, now “she is a good defender and committed to playing defense.” Stringer said she also improved her backcourt game and understanding of the game.

“Phoenix is going to be an exciting team to watch,” Stringer exclaimed with confidence. “I’ve got to order my TV package now so I can watch them.

“Cappie plays the game with power and grace, she has a text book jumper, and she’ll break ankles, and still pull up and hit the ‘J’. If there is a shot to win a game, she’s going to hit it.

“She’s a champion and she deserves to win a championship at every level.”