In the world that existed before the 2007 women's national-championship game, the Rutgers' basketball team was barely known outside the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.
What was lost in the subsequent media frenzy was everything the team had accomplished just to get to the national-championship game. The Scarlet Knights came back after losing four of their first six games to beat UConn for the program's first Big East Championship. They beat powerhouses Michigan State, Duke and LSU during the NCAA tournament to earn the school's first appearance in the finals. They did it all in the relative anonymity of a sport that rarely breaks into the headlines. But Imus forced the team into the middle of a media circus. "Our moment here was taken away," sophomore
Most people expected the players to fire back at the radio personality. And who could blame them? Given access to a national audience, they could have buried Imus for good. Instead, they sought higher ground. Coach
Throughout all the coverage, from CNN to
For their class, for their dignity and for their runner-up finish against all expectations, the Rutgers women's basketball team is my Sportsman of the Year.