Ambler's Rutan takes circuitous route to Women's Final Four

Posted: April 07, 2014

NASHVILLE - "Worth the wait" has become motto for Maryland senior Katie Rutan this weekend in the NCAA Women's Final Four at the Bridgestone Arena.

Of all the players here from Connecticut (38-0), Stanford (33-3), Notre Dame (36-0), and Rutan's Terrapins squad (28-6), the graduate of Springside School has traveled the most circuitous route in reaching the national semifinals.

"Yeah, I remember, trust me," Rutan, a 5-foot-9 guard, said Saturday afternoon of her freshman season at Xavier in 2010.

The Musketeers were seconds away from the Final Four when Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen grabbed a missed Xavier layup and went the length of the court to score before time elapsed in a regional final.

"It wasn't meant to be back then," Rutan reflected. "But I wouldn't change those moments for this moment."

One year later, in the second round as a two seed, Xavier was upset by No. 7 Louisville.

"When I recruited her at Xavier, I just thought she was a perfect fit to round out what I thought would be a fantastic team," said Kevin McGuff, now at Ohio State. "A lot of coaches didn't like a lot of things about her game, but I thought she would be perfect to get to the next level - great shooter, high IQ, and really loves basketball."

Then, after McGuff left for the Washington job (2011) before moving to the Buckeyes, Rutan transferred to Maryland and used her season out of action to reshape her body.

"I changed my diet a lot," the Ambler native said. "The coaching staff helped me eat the right things. And then just working out to the max and reaching a new limit."

Rutan, a career 39.5 percent three-point shooter, became eligible last season, but the Terrapins were riddled with injuries.

"What a great collegiate career. She played on four top-10 teams," said Kevin Lynch, who coached Rutan for the Philadelphia Belles in AAU on a team with Penn State's Maggie Lucas and former UConn star Caroline Doty. "Only two coaches were interested in her - I couldn't believe it."

Last week, Rutan was 4 for 6 on three-point attempts to help No. 4 Maryland upset third-seeded Louisville on the Cardinals' court.

"Those are the highs and lows of sports," said Maryland coach Brenda Frese, whose team will play Notre Dame Sunday night in the semifinals before UConn faces Stanford.

"She hasn't had it easy when you talk about the heartbreak she's had," Frese said, "but through it all, this is what it is about, to persevere and get here."

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