Big East women's hoops is fierce as always (38959)

At the midpoint of conference play, the Big East teams from New York and New Jersey are each dealing with a different situation. For St. John’s, it’s about overcoming an injury-plagued, rough start to the season.

“It’s nice to have everybody practicing,” said coach Kim Barnes Arico, who is grateful to have Da’Shena Stevens and Nadirah McKenith in action. “It’s nice to have the ability to still be able to be successful and to have everybody back healthy at this point.”

The Red Storm has had some confidence-boosting conference wins-over Louisville and Rutgers-but went down to league-leading Notre Dame on Saturday. Barnes Arico said the team will continue to work on consistency.

“We have to continue to take care of the basketball and do a better job on the rebounding end,” she said. “We’re undersized, but we’ve really got to pursue the basketball.”

Meanwhile, Seton Hall is still searching for its first Big East win of the season. Coach Anne Donovan said close losses to Syracuse and South Florida showed the Pirates they could be competitive.

“With Syracuse, they played with so much more energy, and a real belief that they could win that game carried it for 38 minutes,” Donovan said. Against South Florida, Seton Hall led at the half. “[We’re] not confident enough to take the next step and close a game out. The good news, in both those situations, is we were in games to win games.” Now it’s a daily progression in practice while focusing on games one at a time. “We can win games,” said Donovan. “They just have to believe it now.”

A 17-4 win-loss record (6-2 in the Big East) shows that Rutgers is having a solid season, but coach C. Vivian Stringer said there’s more than meets the eye.

“For whatever reason, we were playing loose and free at the beginning of the year, but I think we’re kind of a little hesitant right now,” said Stringer, who said the Scarlet Knights aren’t progressing at the rate needed to successfully compete with league leaders Notre Dame and Connecticut. On the upside, Stringer offered high praise to seniors Khadijah Rushdan and April Sykes, who are the go-to players.

“Honestly, they’re all trying. That’s not the problem,” said Stringer. “They’re trying so hard it doesn’t allow them to freely think.”