Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer Credit: Twitter/RutgersWBB

Last week, longtime Rutgers University women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer recorded her 500th victory at the school. The Scarlet Knights opened their season with a 77-56 road triumph over South Alabama on Tuesday.

Days later, No. 501 was a runaway victory for the Scarlet Knights against Coppin State, with Rutgers running roughshod in a 107-33 Saturday decision.

“This team has worked very, very hard and plays together so well as a unit,” Stringer said, according to The Associated Press, after the win over Coppin State. “That’s a lot of points. It’s unexpected, but they have been so focused on attacking the basket and getting to the rim. We love to see this as a result of that focus.”

Starting in 1971, Stringer coached at Cheyney State and Iowa before taking over at Rutgers in 1995.

Lifestyle changes

Doctors recommended last winter that she needed time away from the game. And so, Stringer, who is now 71, listened to their advice. She needed time to recuperate from exhaustion.

It was a blessing in disguise.

“I was tired and beat up,” Stringer said in an interview with The Associated Press in September. “Not going to reveal what the issue was, but the doctor said, `Stop, you can’t go anymore.’ In a way I knew that I had done everything I could. I couldn’t do any more. Glad that I was given an opportunity to take the break that I needed and relax and come back.”

The AP reported that lack of rest had caught up with her, including these details: “Stringer hadn’t been sleeping more than a few hours a night. She’d been drinking a lot of coffee and taking caffeine pills for years. It all caught up with her before she took her leave.”

Stringer, who entered the season with more than 1,000 career coaching victories, no longer drinks caffeinated beverages. She also stopped taking the caffeine pills, too, according to the AP report.

One of the best ever

C. Vivian Stringer’s remarkable coaching journey is a blueprint for sustained excellence.

Her long list of accomplishments stack up well against her contemporaries — and coaches from any era if you consider the facts.

Here’s a good place to start: “The first coach in men’s or women’s basketball history to take three different schools to the Final Four (Cheyney in 1982, Iowa in 1993 and Rutgers, in 2000 and again in 2007), Stringer has been a pioneer, visionary and leader during her four decades of success on the hardwood,” the 2009 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer’s Rutgers coaching bio reads.