Kim Rodgers: Maryland's "Secret Weapon"
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Four players scored in double-figures for Maryland today in its 95-84 victory over North Carolina in the ACC tournament semifinals. Three were not a surprise: first team all-ACC seniors Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver had 29 and 25 points, respectively, and ACC rookie of the year Lynetta Kizer had 15. The fourth was a bit of a shock: redshirt freshman Kim Rodgers, who had 11.
"Kim was a big-time spark for us, a huge x-factor and someone who has worked extremely hard this season and has been extremely patient," Coach Brenda Frese said. "Just the confidence she came in to shoot the basketball, I thought that really made a big difference in the game."
Rodgers was a Parade All-American at Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach, but she missed last season with a torn ACL in her right knee and torn meniscus in both knees. She did not play at all for the first nine games of the season, and then she only appeared in 11 others, for an average of 6.4 minutes. But she showed that she could shoot—albeit with a distinctive, flat-footed shot—in her debut at Loyola on Dec. 9, when she made all four three-pointers she attempted.
She said she started to feel better physically towards the end of the regular season, and had been playing a lot on Maryland's scout team in practice. "I was able to do some things on my own, with people who aren't on the team," Rodgers said. "It gave me confidence to get my game back."
On Friday against Wake Forest in the quarterfinals, Frese inserted Rodgers into the game with 13:07 left in the first half—the first meaningful minutes that Rodgers had played this season. She made back-to-back three-pointers late in the first half to give the Terrapins a 31-22 lead. "It was definitely interesting. I was a little bit nervous, but you can't be nervous when you go out there," she said.
Rodgers played an even bigger role against the Tar Heels, playing a season-high 21 minutes and recording three three-pointers, two asissts and two steals. Early in the first half, Rodgers stripped Cetera DeGraffenreid—North Carolina's lightning-quick point guard—of the ball in transition. She also guarded Rashanda McCants for stretches.
"Before I got hurt, I loved playing defense," said Rodgers, who wears a big brace on her right knee. "It was nice for me to actually feel like I had the ability to do something like that again."
Her two three-pointers in the final minutes of the first half against North Carolina gave Maryland a spark going into the locker room. On the season, Rodgers has made 15 of 28 shots from beyond the arc (53.6 percent). Her teammates may tease her for not jumping when she shoots—"I've never jumped very high on my shots," she said—but they like the results.
"Kim is a great three-point shooter. For us, she's like a secret weapon," Toliver said. "No one really knows about her. If they want to continue to leave her open, they can."
March 7, 2009; 5:55 PM ET
Categories: Women's basketball
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