Regina Rogers Becomes A Revelation
Feb. 25, 2012
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE - The newest member of the Huskies' 1,000-point club has come a long, long way. Simply by coming home.
Three-plus years ago the former star center at Seattle's Chief Sealth High School was a lonely Husky. She was idle and lost in her own hometown, sitting out games at Washington for one season per NCAA transfer rules.
"It was really, really tough," the honorable mention to the conference's freshman All-Pac-10 team at UCLA says now. "There were games I wished I could have played in. Also, me being new to the team, there were inside jokes going on, from going on trips. And it wasn't like in previous years when (UW) had two, three people sitting out. I was the only one sitting out.
"I didn't have a buddy to room with me. I didn't have a buddy to stay with me. I kind of felt left out."
Being at home "saved me," as she put it.
"My friends and family got behind me, went to the gym with me," Rogers said. "They were kind of my buddies."
Then, when she was finally eligible to debut for the Huskies, her legs let her down.
She battled through knee pain in her sophomore season of 2009-10. Then, poised for a breakout last season, a chronic hamstring injury cost her 11 games of her junior year and limited her to duty exclusively off the bench during the last half of the 2010-11 season.
"It was really frustrating, you know, being able to finally play and then to have my hamstring injury, it really took a toll on me. I was upset," she said. "I felt like that was going to be my big year, then having to sit out so many games, then coming in and only being able to play the second half of the Pac-10 season, it was really hard for me."
Now, finally healthy for her final college season, Rogers is a revelation.
The 6-foot-3 senior center has turned her massive potential into massive production, just in time for the last games of her college career. Last week she became the 21st Husky with 1,000 points in a college career.
"I'm so excited to be the 21st. I mean, not too many people have accomplished that," she said this week on the edge of the court at Alaska Airlines Arena, days before Washington (14-11, 6-9 Pac-12) tries to beat Washington State for the 34th consecutive time Sunday at noon on ROOT Sports/Fox Sports Network television, on 1150 AM radio in Seattle and here on GoHuskies.com with another exclusive game chat.
"It's not just me. My team helped me," Rogers said. "I couldn't do it without my team."
Make that, teams.
She scored 195 of those points as a freshman in the 2007-08 season at UCLA. She left Seattle to become a Bruin simply because she always wanted to. She also wanted to stay with Chief Sealth teammate Christina Nzekwe, who is currently finishing her career at UCLA.
And, as Rogers says, "Then L.A. Who doesn't want to be in Hollywood?"
"My first year at UCLA was ... interesting," she said. "As a freshman starting at UCLA some games, it was always my dream school. When I was seven, I used to write about wanting to go to UCLA.
"But coming back home was just better for me. Even going through the rough times here - not playing a lot, getting hurt - I just felt that was still my home."
She wanted to, as she put it, "starting something here" at UW.
She's doing that now.
Rogers has exactly 1,000 points in her college career. She has scored in double digits 22 times this season. Exactly fifty percent of the Huskies' scoring (63.8 points per game) has come from Rogers and point guard Jazmine Davis, a prime candidate to become the Pac-12's freshman of the year.
Rogers is third in the conference in scoring at 16.0 points per game and second in the league in field goal percentage at 59.8. That's one percentage point behind Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike. Rogers is fifth in the Pac-12 with 8.3 rebounds per game and 3.4 offensive rebounds per game.
And the Huskies' 14 wins are their most since the 2007-08 season, when they won 18 and advanced to their last NCAA Tournament.
"She's done everything we've asked her to do," said Kevin McGuff, who arrived to coach Washington in March after turning Xavier into a top-10 program during nine seasons in Cincinnati. "It was very evident the first time I saw her in the spring: She's got unique talents that can help us this year."
Then, in September, it became evident Rogers would need to carry the Huskies. All-conference scoring guard Kristi Kingma wrecked her knee while on the team's exhibition tour of Scandinavia. Subsequent surgery ended her season -- and shoved Rogers into the primary role she'd wanted for years but had not been healthy enough to seize.
"When Kristi went down she said, `You have to step up,'" Rogers recalls. "And I felt like I've done the best I've could (to do that)."
The Huskies' offense has been revolving around her since.
But Rogers' proudest accomplishment isn't the points. It's not coming home and persevering her loneliness and season sitting on the sidelines.
It's not adding to the Rogers legacy at UW. Her uncle, Chester Dorsey, second all-time at UW in assists with 466 from 1974-77, was 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.
No, Regina's proudest accomplishment is how much she is playing this season. As in, per night. The many people who for years had said she was too big and too injury-prone to play consistently are quiet now. She is dominating the paint for nearly the entire game, every game.
Not counting a game at Oregon in which she fouled out after just 14 minutes, Rogers is averaging 30.2 minutes per Pac-12 contest. That includes a season high 37 minutes against Arizona State on Jan. 28 plus 30, 33 and 31 minutes in UW's last three games.
"I take a lot of pride in it. People didn't think I could do it," Rogers said. "My coaches always instilled in me, `We are going to play you 20, then we are going to move you up.'
"I feel like I've done a great job. There are times I am tired out there, of course. I mean, I don't think I ever thought I'd be playing this many minutes. But every time I get tired my teammates say, `OK, keep goin'!'"
"I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm healthier. My hamstring's not torn. I've done more cardio than I ever have. I'm not as tired as I was last year."
McGuff, who also has been a national title-winning assistant at Notre Dame, is all about running. Beginning in summer drills, his Huskies were running line drills, running through scrimmages, running to everything except team meals.
They may have even sprinted to those.
"We're constantly running," Rogers said before smiling. "I can't help but be in shape."
Rogers augmented that conditioning, too.
"I did extra cardio. My teammates helped me. My coaches helped me," she said. "I remember one time in preseason workouts I was having a hard time. Charmaine Barlow, Jazmine Davis grabbed me and told me, `Let's keep going!'
"Just to have teammates like that has been a big thing, too."
For a formerly lonely Husky that had no friends and no games to play just three years ago, it's huge.