Dec. 18, 2015
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Want to find an expert in time management?
Come to Georgia Tech. The campus is full of them. That includes faculty/coaches.
Each person goes about it differently.
Georgia Tech women’s basketball coach MaChelle Joseph, needing to get through to senior forward Roddreka Rogers about her importance to the team and her need to be more aggressive, took the offensive, convincing her that time was running out on her college career.
“I think the biggest thing is I challenged her,” said Joseph. “There’s not going to be a tomorrow. This is it. She needs to decide if she’s going to let this opportunity slip away. The ultimate goal for us is the NCAA Tournament and we’re not going to get to the NCAA Tournament if we don’t win some of these non-conference games that we need to step up in. We can’t win these games without production from Roddreka Rogers. There’s no way.”
Rogers, the 6-0 native of Charlotte, N.C., realized that the best thing she could do to take advantage of her time was to use more of it, especially on the offensive end.
“I’ve just focused on finishing. Not worrying about the fouls or worrying about missing a lay-up,” she said. “Just focusing on making the lay-up, seeing it go through or whatever shot I take. That’s my biggest thing. When I get my rhythm going I know my lay-ups are going to hit. You can kind of tell when your lay-ups are going to work or not. You know when you’re game’s off you know, ‘Okay, this one’s going to come off.’”
Rogers saw an atypical number of her shots go off over the first eight games of the 2015-16 season. She shot 57.6 percent (34-for-59), a good percentage but not Roddreka Rogers-esque — she entered her final season at 62.9 for her career, 71.9 percent during her junior season.
Things turned around on Dec. 2 game at Indiana, when Rogers scored five points and got five rebounds in the 69-60 loss. The ACC-Big Ten Challenge was followed by the Coach Jo Challenge.
She used the sands-in-the-hourglass approach, awakening the giant within.
“I told her after the Indiana game, we can’t win a game with her getting five points and five rebounds. It’s just not possible,” said Joseph. “She’s a senior, she’s a go-to player. She has to be in double-figures for us night in and night out and she has to be one of our leading rebounders.”
Rogers has responded.
In the three games since, she has averaged 18.0 points, having made 24 of 26 shots. She set her season-high with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting Dec. 5 against USC Upstate, the first game following Indiana, then, 10 days later topped that season-high and set a career-high, with 25 points in the win over Prairie View A&M. She also set a career-high with 11 field goals, hitting all 11 field goal attempts.
It was her most prolific shooting day since Jan. 8, 2014 at Clemson, when she went 6-for-6.
She’s also stepped it up on the boards. Roddreka grabbed nine rebounds vs. Upstate, two off her season high, then, after a one-rebound game against Samford, put in an inspired effort on the boards against Prairie View.
The stat sheet showed a five-rebound night but the five rebounds, two on the offensive end, matched Prairie View forward Larissa Scott. Scott came in as the nation’s third-leading rebounder averaging 14.8 rebounds per game, 9.0 on the offensive end alone!
“She was upset she didn’t get more rebounds but I told her you can’t rebound if you make every shot,” said Joseph, with a laugh. “There’s no offensive rebounds.”
Rogers’ rebound has helped Georgia Tech do so as well. The Jackets disposed of USC Upstate and Prairie View A&M by 41 and 48 points, sandwiching a business-like 11-point win over a strong Samford squad.
Rogers is having fun again, as is the entire team and it’s showing in the way they move the ball. The Jackets had 28 assists on 37 baskets against A&M and for the season they’ve dished out 185 assists on 312 baskets. That’s helpers on 59.3 percent of their baskets.
“As a team, we’re passing the ball, sharing the ball the whole game,” Rogers said. ‘It works well when we’re all passing the ball and not caring who gets the credit. That’s what makes it really fun because you never know who’s going to get the shot. We’re all out there hustling, passing the ball. We don’t care who gets the shot. It’s cool.”
Roddreka, on the other hand is riding her hot hand and feels that she’s starting to hit her stride.
“Yeah, slowly,” she said, with a laugh. “I think I’m starting to get it all together. The roles have definitely changed from last year to this year where I’m more of a go-to player now so it’s just accepting my role and stepping up for my team, that’s the biggest thing that I was struggling with. Just being able to help them now is a good feeling.
“Aaliyah and I try to teach the young ones what to expect in college,” she added. “We try to teach them stuff before it happens. Anything to make them successful. Stuff we that we didn’t learn when we got here. Instead of making them go through it we’re giving them everything ahead of time so they know what to expect and how to prepare for it.”
Rogers feels she has the right approach to handle the rest of the season.
“Just take my time,” she said. “Before I was rushing to make shots, throwing them up there, ‘Come on, I need the shot.’ Now I’m slowing down, taking my time, actually making a move to finish a lay-up.”
Rogers also continues to improve as a rebounder. She’s in ninth place all-time in school history, passing her predecessor, Sasha Goodlett (2009-12), a WNBA first-round pick and, against Upstate, Joyce Pierce (1991-93).
She’ll head into Friday night’s game with Alabama with 779 career boards. Next up, in seventh place 22 rebounds away, are Regina Tate (1998-02) and LeeAnn Woodhull (1980-83), while Cindy Cochran (1982-85) sits in sixth, 25 away.
“I pride myself on my rebounding so just knowing that I passed one of the greatest to have played here (Goodlett) is a wonderful feeling,” she said. “I just want to keep going up the list so I can pass some more big names.”
She’d like to help the Jackets pass a big name, SEC power Alabama, which brings a 9-1 mark to McCamish — although they are 0-1 away from home.
“Any game that we go to we approach as a big game,” Rogers said. “So we want to win. We want to keep our record getting better and better as we go into Conference play so this is definitely going to be a big game for us. We’re excited. We’re ready for them.”