Rogers Dominant So Far In Kingma's Scoring Role
Dec. 1, 2011
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE - Regina Rogers didn't sound cocky. She only sounded like she's been waiting four years for this.
"It's my time," the senior transfer said Tuesday just before she and the Huskies (4-2) left for Moscow, Idaho - then dominated the Vandals 66-49 a day later.
And Rogers did most of the dominating. Again.
The 6-foot-3 center and former star at Seattle's Chief Sealth High School bulled through Idaho's double and triple teams on a career night: 27 points and 14 rebounds.
It was the second time already this season Rogers had made 11 of 14 shots (78.6%), counting Washington's lone exhibition against Concordia, Ore., last month. She was a 52.4-percent shooter from the floor last season and never took more than 13 shots in any game while batting leg injuries then.
"This is my year, this year."
It sure seems that way right now.
Rogers, who transferred from UCLA to come back home following her freshman season, is averaging 18.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game entering Sunday's 2 p.m. home game against Long Beach State (1150 AM radio in Seattle, and here on GoHuskies.com with the live game chat).
She is shooting 72 percent from the field while receiving a stream of entry passes into the low post. If she could improve even marginally on free throws - she's currently at 47 percent from the line -- she'd be averaging closer to 25 points per night.
No Husky has averaged more over an entire season than the 21.3 points per game Giuliana Mendiola poured in during 2003-04.
Rogers couldn't have timed this surge any better. With all-conference scorer Kingma out for the season with a knee injury she sustained on the team's summer exhibition tour of Scandinavia, it's been clear from the first few seconds of the fall what coach Kevin McGuff wants as a focal point in his first season at Washington:
She grabbed the first entry pass of the Huskies' initial game, an exhibition against NAIA Concordia last month. That was the first of Rogers' 28 points that night.
"She's done everything we've asked her to do," said McGuff, who arrived in March after turning Xavier into a top-10 program during nine seasons in Cincinnati. "We've got to continue to make sure she can (keep doing) that offensively.
"It was very evident the first time I saw her in the spring: she's got unique talents that can help us this year."
Rogers said this first season with McGuff "feels so different."
"I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life," the oft-injured Rogers said. "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, the former NCAA-tournament coach at Xavier and a national title-winning assistant at Notre Dame, is all about running.
"We're constantly running," Rogers said before smiling. "I can't help but be in shape."
McGuff, 213-73 with six NCAA tournament appearances in those nine years at Xavier, has his Huskies running so much UW track and cross country coach Greg Metcalf might be proud of them.
Or he might be scouting them for late-spring help.
McGuff's players have been bent at the waist, grabbing at their long shorts, sweating and panting. Not during games. In pregame shoot-arounds, four hours before tipoff.
Of course, there's a reason for all the running. McGuff, a native of the Cincinnati area who began his coaching career at Miami of Ohio and won a national title as an assistant at Notre Dame before his first head job at Xavier, wants to model his Huskies after Lorenzo Romar's men's team. That means relentless pressure in man-to-man defense and constant fast breaks on offense.
"We want to be an extremely tough defensive team, a great rebounding team, and an aggressive transition-offense team," McGuff says.
But with Rogers the only double-digit scorer returning now that Kingma is out, Washington must evolve into that.
Sophomore Mercedes Wetmore, 5-8, has returned to more of a scoring role this season, the job in which she excelled at Auburn, Wash., Riverside High School. She backed up Sarah Morton at point guard in her first Huskies season, but has moved to off guard with the arrival of freshman Jazmine Davis from San Jose, Calif., to replace Morton at the point.
Davis and especially Wetmore have spent extra time during and after practices recently feeding the ball to Rogers. The payoff is already obvious. Rogers is scoring like she did back as an unstoppable force at Chief Sealth High years ago.
"I was really bigger than everybody, stronger than everybody, in college. I just turned and scored," Rogers said. "In college I've learned to turn and read the defense ... to make wise choices."
Yet McGuff wants to Rogers to be wiser defensively, too, to complete her game.
"I still want her to foul less," McGuff says.
That's part of McGuff installing his new program, a process still in its infancy. But the early results, thanks to Rogers, are encouraging.
"We still have a long, long way to go," McGuff said before the win at Idaho. "It takes a long time to build habits.
"But we are making progress."
None more impressively than Rogers.