Fans of the NBA are very aware of the phrase "Trust the Process," which arose during the rebuild of the Philadelphia 76ers and was made famous by star center Joel Embiid.
When one trusts "the process," they stay patient as a plan is implemented to achieve great goals. In 2024, that's just what the Rutgers women's basketball team will have to do.
As of January 29, the Scarlet Knights own a record of 6-16 and a conference record of 0-9. Rutgers has found itself on an 11-game skid, and it has not won since Dec. 5, 2023.
In addition, the Knights have dropped to last place in the Big Ten standings.
It's been a tough stretch for Rutgers, but head coach Coquese Washington has kept her composure, fully putting her trust in the process and seeking improvement every step of the way — even if that process is moving slower than she wants.
"It's going to take as long as it takes," Washington said after losing to Michigan a few weeks ago. "The confidence that I have in all of them is unwavering. So, it doesn't matter if we lose by 30, or we lose by 5 or we win by 10. That process is what I'm here for — to help them go through it, to learn from it, get better from it and be stronger competitors because of the experience."
The Knights appear to be at the beginning of that process, as more than half of their roster consists of sophomores and freshmen players who are learning at the collegiate level. Washington has high praise for all of her young players this season, who have been battling it out with opponents who are often years ahead of them.
"It's not easy to keep showing up when you've got a freshman body, and you're playing against a fifth-year senior who's had a trainer, and she's got muscles on top of muscles, and I'm yelling at you to box her out, and you're looking at her like, 'What?'" Washington said. "They keep showing up, and they keep saying, 'I am going to try. I am going to work through it.' So, I love that about this team ... They are willing to take the lumps that (are) necessary to take for us to move this program along."
One of the players Washington holds in high regard is freshman guard Jillian Huerter, the young, three-point sharpshooter who gets better with every passing game. Huerter is a big believer in the process.
"Each day, we just continue to work to get better and get more comfortable playing at this level," Huerter said of how the freshmen view the process. "It's been a process, but it's been a fun one, especially with our teammates and our coaches helping us along."
For Huerter and the rest of the freshmen and sophomore guards, trust in your coach is vastly important for development. Washington understands that.
"When you believe in a kid, when you believe in who they are, you walk that journey with them," Washington said.
While this season hasn't been ideal for Rutgers, Washington hopes to establish a winning culture during her first few seasons on the Banks before the team takes its game to new heights.
With players like five-star recruit Kiyomi McMiller joining the fold in 2025, the sky could be the limit for the Knights in the coming years. The team just needs to build a positive foundation with players who are itching to keep growing and learning from their experiences.
It will take time. But with perseverance and patience, that process should end with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for Rutgers.
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