ACC Notebook: Ex-Hillside, Wake star Rodney Rogers honored
Rodney Rogers, the former Hillside High School and Wake Forest star, received a standing ovation when he was honored at halftime of the Wake Forest-Maryland game at the ACC Tournament on Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Rogers, who was paralyzed by a motorcycle accident on Nov. 28, 2008, was introduced along with Dave Odom, his coach while playing with the Demon Deacons. Rogers was the ACC Player of the Year in 1993, when he averaged 21.2 points and 7.4 rebounds.
“He is one of the great players in ACC history,” Odom said. “It’s wonderful to have the ACC, all the schools, appreciate what he accomplished and what he’s been through. ... To know him is to love him.”
Rogers averaged 19.3 points and 7.9 rebounds during his three seasons at Wake Forest, which retired his No. 54 in 1996.
“From my perspective, he’s the important recruit we ever signed because he was the first great one,” Odom said. “When we got him, that paved the way for us to sign Randolph Childress and Tim Duncan because it showed that we were serious about winning.”
Rogers, whose foundation financially helps others who are paralyzed, said it was a “great feeling” to hear the ovation.
“To represent the ACC was an honor,” Rogers said.
He also had some advice for the Demon Deacons, who led Maryland 35-30 at the break.
“We need a bigger lead,” Rogers said. “We’ve got to stop missing so many easy shots.”
He was right. Maryland eliminated the Deacs 75-62.
NO MARGIN FOR ERROR
Richard Howell and Scott Wood know they’re playing in the ACC Tournament for the last time, and they plan to hang around as long as possible.
“When I walked in, I thought about it,” Wood said of the Greensboro Coliseum, where he has played in three league tournaments. “But I’m just here to win some games, and hopefully we can work that trophy at the end of the day.”
That continues today (2 p.m., WRAL) with a quarterfinal matchup against Virginia (21-10), which beat the Pack 58-55 on Jan. 29 at Charlottesville.
“We just had a couple of defensive lapses, I think,” Wood said of the loss to the Cavs. “There was a five-minute stretch where we couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean. But we didn’t help ourselves by getting stops, plus they shot a lot of free throws at the end.”
Howell, who had 22 points and 12 rebounds in N.C. State’s 80-63 win over Virginia Tech, wants the Pack to set the tempo this time around.
“When we play them, it’s different ballgame,” Howell said. “It’s not the same up-and-down type of game that we’re used to. They slow it down; they really kind of kill the tempo of the game.
“That’s something that we don’t want to do. We want to play our tempo. We feel like if we can get them up and down, then it will be a good matchup.”
Any concern about being able to play at that speed during a potential four-day run in the tournament?
“We feel like we have the athletes and fatigue doesn’t really set in,” Howell said.
And he’s not ready for his college playing career to end.
“I think about it all the time,” Howell said. “It’s bittersweet because I love college, but I’m definitely ready to get out of it.”
Durham native T.J. Warren posted 13 points in his first ACC Tournament appearance with the Wolfpack.
“It was a great experience for me,” Warren said after the Pack’s 80-63 win over Virginia Tech in the opening round. “What got me was the fans. They were very supportive, a lot of red in the building.
“I played pretty well, played solid.”
Warren, who played at Riverside High School before moving on to prep school, and the Wolfpack will have to do that again against Virginia if they’re to follow through on his prediction.
“We’ve got to get revenge on them,” Warren said. “Looking back at the road game, it was a tough one for us early in the season. We didn’t come out with the right energy; we weren’t focused.
“This time around, we’re going to get ‘em.”
SIMILAR, YET DIFFERENT
N.C. State needed a late-season push a year ago to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament, but Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried doesn’t believe that is necessary this time for his team nor Virginia (21-10) to get an invitation.
“I think we’re an NCAA Tournament team; I think Virginia is, I really do,” Gottfried said. “I think they deserve to be in the tournament.
“Last year was a little different. You’ve got to remember, we were 5-7 at one point in the league and we had to win four straight to get to nine. We really needed to turn the perception more than Virginia does right now. We had a steeper hill to climb. For us, every opportunity we had was life or death. I don’t think they’re in that situation; I really don’t.”
CLIMBING OUT OF A HOLE
Boston College opened the tournament Thursday with an improbable 84-64 win over Georgia Tech to earn a berth in today’s quarterfinals against Miami (noon, WRAL).
Olivier Hanlan’s ACC-record 41 points by a freshman paved the way.
“I thought it was an interesting game, to say the least,” Boston College coach Steve Donahue said. “You don’t have too many of those where you fall down by 15 (points) before the first timeout.
“We’ve been through a great deal this year with a lot of adversity, a lot of times where we didn’t play well but we came back, and I think that’s what we kind of relied on at that point.”