Feb. 1, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Freshman year is hard. Freshman year in the ACC is even more challenging.
Roddreka Rogers isn’t intimidated by hard and doesn’t back down from harder. She just keeps on working.
That’s what the Charlotte, N.C., native has done and it’s an approach that has allowed her to break through, and earn an opportunity to start for the Yellow Jackets.
It’s that opportunity that she saw when she choose Georgia Tech over schools in North Carolina, where she’d played with younger sister Rydeiah at Myers Park High School, leading them to a 31-1 record last season. She enjoys going back home, especially donning a Tech uniform.
“I love going back home and playing against the teams that I could have played for,” she said. “Since they overlooked me it just makes me feel great to go out there and play against them. I have my whole family out there. It’s just a great experience to have.”
Roddreka, the younger daughter of former Wake Forest legend and NBA star Rodney Rogers, gave one of those schools, NC State, a showing last Sunday at McCamish Pavilion. While the game didn’t turn out well for the Jackets, it confirmed Rogers as a hard-nosed player with a big heart and a mean streak against teams from the Research Triangle.
“Roddreka Rogers is the one post player we’re getting a contribution from,” said Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph following the game against the Wolfpack. “She just plays hard. She goes and gets rebounds and put-backs and just plays really hard. That’s one of the things we have to do is we have to get her more touches on the inside.”
Joseph’s squad practiced what the coach preached Thursday night against Wake Forest at McCamish Pavilion and saw good things happen.
Rogers scored a career-high 13 points, hitting 5 of 10 shots — the field goal attempts were also a career-high, while the field goals made tied her career-best — and the Yellow Jackets snapped a six-game losing streak with an 89-82 overtime victory. She also grabbed 10 rebounds (four offensive, six defensive) to complete her first collegiate double-double and had three assists, and two blocks.
Firsts for things like double-doubles are noteworthy and the fact that in conference play she’s second on the team in rebounds (46, 23 at each end), and in blocked shots (5, two behind team leader Danielle Hamilton-Carter) is impressive. But to Rogers, they don’t mean a whole lot. Personal glory isn’t part of her game.
“I just play for the win,” said the 6-0 forward, from Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday prior to the Wake game. “I really want to win. I could care less about stats. I want the team to go out and play its hardest. With me starting to start I just try to give my best effort and leave everything out on the court.”
She’s done that in her four starts.
Rogers has chipped in offensively, averaging 7.3 points a game, and has handed out three assists in each of the last two games, basically doubling her assist total (from seven prior to Sunday to 13). Defensively, her rebounds have gone up each game and the two blocks against Wake gave her two multi-block games as a starter. In the two games she didn’t have multiple blocks she recorded multiple steals.
All that hard work is starting to pay off. All she had to do was keep working and stay patient. Rogers credits her teammates for teaching that from day one.
“They’ve taught me to have patience. It will all come to me,” she said. “Patience is a virtuous path. They’ve told me it’s kind of hard but come in with an open mind and you’ll be fine.”
Rogers also credits Joseph for not letting her get complacent.
“I feel like I’m improving each and every day that we practice and have games,” she said. “I can tell that I’ve really improved since the summer when I got here. Coach Jo does not let you just sit in one spot. She wants you to keep improving and she makes sure I do that.”
Rogers has come a long way from her first start on Jan. 20 against Maryland. Making her first college start the country’s 10th-ranked team with its daunting front line of Alyssa Thomas, Tianna Hawkins and Alicia DeVaughan that didn’t scare her. She grasped the situation and played with corresponding urgency.
“I was nervous at first,” she admitted. “That was the team that [Tech] played in the [ACC] Championship, so there was a lot going into that game. With all the freshmen starting we all had to step up to a different level and bring the most intensity to the table and have a good start to the game.”
She responded, playing 31 minutes, without committing a foul, hitting three of four shots, grabbing four rebounds and earning her first multi-block game of the season.
With eight games left to play — including Sunday afternoon at Virginia, a 1 p.m. tip-off at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville — Rogers feels that same urgency. She believes the team feels it, too, and will keep improving and could give teams that are currently ahead of them a headache come the ACC Tournament, which takes place in Greensboro, N.C.
“I feel as though we can be very dangerous because right now we don’t have the best record and people are underestimating us,” she said. “I feel like as long as we keep working hard and do what we need to do, we can come back and surprise everybody. We have more than enough time to get back and do well.”