Trip Back To UCLA Last One For Rogers
Feb. 1, 2012
SEATTLE - This is no normal road trip for Regina Rogers.
Nor should it be.
"I think it will be emotional my last time going down there," Rogers said on the eve of her Huskies (11-8, 3-6 Pac-12) playing UCLA (10-10, 5-4) at the on-campus John Wooden Center in Los Angeles on Thursday at 7 p.m. (1150 AM radio in Seattle, and here on GoHuskies.com with the live game chat).
Rogers was a Washington state player of the year and two-time state champion at Chief Sealth in Seattle. She struck out on her own in 2007 to sign with UCLA -- instead of the hometown UW, which her father and uncle attended.
But after one season at UCLA as an honorable mention on the conference's all-freshman team, Rogers returned home.
Now the 6-foot-3 senior center is in the final weeks of her college career. And she is still seeking her first win against her former Bruins.
Cue the nostalgia, for sure.
"Definitely, they bring back memories," she said inside Washington's Alaska Airlines Arena before practice on Tuesday. "I am close to my UCLA friends. I have family down there.
"Yeah, I think about the decision a lot. I think U-Dub was the best choice for me. This team, I love my team. I wouldn't change it for the world."
Part of the reason Rogers left Seattle to sign with UCLA was to stay with Chief Sealth teammate Christina Nzekwe.
And, as Rogers says, "Then L.A. Who doesn't want to be in Hollywood?"
But then she changed the script on her hoops story and went from Bruin to Husky.
"I wanted to start something here," she said of UW's remodeling program.
"The only thing I was concerned about was me being a senior, you know, how I would fit in with it being my only year with the new coaches. But Coach (Kevin) McGuff and Coach (Mike) Neighbors have been great. They didn't look at any film from before. It was a clean start. It surprised me. I could make a new impression, you know?"
McGuff, the former Xavier coach, has made Rogers the focal point of his Huskies' offense inside during his first season at UW after all-conference scorer Kristi Kingma's season-ending knee injury in August.
That's worked out OK, eh?
Despite battling through a hamstring that's been sore for years, Rogers seized her sixth double-double this season last weekend against Arizona State with 20 points and 12 rebounds. She is averaging 15.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in her only season under McGuff.
Rogers' dedication to improving her stamina this past offseason has resulted in her being second in the nation with field goal percentage of 62.2 percent. With nine games left her senior regular season, she is 100 points shy of 1,000 for her two-school career.
"She's a terrific player. She's made a lot of progress," McGuff said. "And I think that has a lot to do with her conditioning."
McGuff, who turned Xavier into a top-10 program, admits "I didn't know anything about her" when he got to Washington last spring.
"She's come a long way mentally, too," McGuff said. "She hasn't fought us on anything. She's been good to coach. She, maybe more than anyone, has benefited from a fresh start."
Rogers played a career-high 37 minutes against Arizona State Saturday. But her coach knows that's pushing the limit of what her historically bothersome hamstring can take.
"I don't think I'd want to play her that many minutes," McGuff said. "As a matter of fact, I know I wouldn't."
FAMILY ROOTS RUN DEEP AT UW
Rogers' uncle, Chester Dorsey, is second all-time at UW in assists, 466 from 1974-77. He was also Regina's first basketball coach, when she was a grade-schooler.
Her father is Reggie Rogers, a consensus All-American defensive tackle in 1986 from Sacramento, Calif., who also was on the Huskies 1984 Pac-10 basketball championship team. He is one of 19 Huskies to play football and basketball while at UW.
Across campus, Rogers routinely gets stopped by fellow students. By staff. Even by her teachers.
"There's not a day that goes by when someone doesn't ask me if I am Reggie's daughter," she said. "Professors read my name in class and say, `You must be Reggie's daughter.'
"It doesn't bother me, being compared to him (and her uncle). I love it. I love being compared to them. Things outside of athletics, I can't control. But in athletics, I'm proud to be compared to my father."
Rogers says she doesn't see her father much, "but he calls me from time to time. He tells me that he's proud of me."
Regina has two more classes to complete her degree in sociology. She hopes to play professionally either in the WNBA or overseas; the WNBA has been scouting her. And McGuff thinks she can be a pro post player.
"You look at her size, but she's quick. She has good feet. She's fast," the coach said. "I think she has a future in basketball beyond college."
After that? Rogers has a post-basketball cause that is even more worthy than dominating the paint.
"I want to set up a children's home, do something for unprivileged kids," Rogers says. "I grew up in south Seattle (in the city's Rainier Beach section). There was not a Boys and Girls Club there. I want to go back into my community and give back."
She's already done that once, coming home to UW from UCLA.
"I grew up being a Husky," Rogers said. "It's in my blood."