Wake's Mr. Rogers finds neighborhood all his own Dominant Deacon faces Terps next

February 17, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

As Wake Forest coach Dave Odom stood at courtside during the shoot-around before Saturday's game at Duke, he saw nothing out of the ordinary about his team, which three nights before had been humiliated in a 17-point blowout at Florida State.

"Our team was relaxed," Odom recalled yesterday. "Everybody was confident and businesslike."

The shoot-around was business as usual for Rodney Rogers, but in the hours that followed, the junior put on a special performance. Disregarding the packedCameron Indoor Stadium crowd and the then-No. 3 Blue Devils, Rogers scored a career-high 35 points in the Demon Deacons' 98-86 win.

"It's obvious Rodney was sensational," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, after his team's seven-game home winning streak against Wake Forest was ended. "That may not be giving him enough credit. It was as good a performance as I've seen in Cameron in my 13 years."

Going into tonight's game against Maryland (10-11, 1-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference), Rogers is riding probably the most dominant streak of his career. Over the past four games, the 6-foot-7, 252-pound forward is averaging 29 points in helping Wake Forest (16-4, 7-3) to its No. 10 ranking.

"Thirty-five points at Cameron? I don't think anybody can predict that," said Odom. "It was obvious early he felt good about himself. I don't know what turned him on. He did his part, and his teammates did a good job of getting to ball to him as well."

His teammates did a very good job. Rogers was 14 of 16 from the field (11 baskets in the paint) against Duke, easily shaking off any defender the Blue Devils threw at him. Over his past four games, Rogers, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, has been virtually unstoppable, shooting 71.2 percent from the field (52 of 73). That should pose a tremendous problem for Maryland, which has had trouble guarding the low post.

"He's become a very complete player," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "The thing Rodney gives you is every night he comes out and he just loves to play basketball. It's not just his scoring. He does a lot of things for Wake Forest that goes unnoticed in the box scores."

Wake Forest has had little difficulty scoring lately, surpassing 90 points in each of its past three games. With his performance against Duke, Rogers took over the ACC scoring lead with 21.1 points per game. The leader going into the game was teammate Randolph Childress, a sophomore guard from Clinton, Md., who is second in the ACC with 21.0 points a game. Childress, an accurate three-point shooter, had a season-high 30 points in the first meeting against Maryland.

"He's really one of the best players on their team," Evers Burns, Maryland's leading scorer (19.1), said of Childress. "And he's stepping up to be a really good player."

The recent surge by Wake Forest, whose No. 9 ranking last week was the team's highest since 1984, has helped make people forget the start of the ACC season. After winning eight of their first nine games, the Demon Deacons started the ACC season with an overtime home loss to Florida State, followed by an 86-59 loss at home to Duke.

"Everybody has to look at themselves and see what they are doing wrong and try to put it together so we can all combine as one team," Childress said after the Duke loss. "Our backs are against the wall."

And the Demon Deacons responded. The next outing was an 86-73 win at Maryland that started the roll. Wake Forest has won eight of its past nine, including games against Duke and North Carolina.

The loss, 111-94 at Florida State last week, resulted in Wake Forest's dropping a spot in the polls despite the win over Duke. In the defeat, which ended a seven-game winning streak, Wake allowed Florida State to shoot 57.9 percent from the field -- after limiting seven straight opponents to less than 45 percent shooting.

"Wake Forest played no defense to speak of," Odom said. "If we were to put tissue paper up, we would have done better than the defense we put up.

"But we realized that we were playing one of the toughest teams in the country on their home court," he added. "We tried to put that game in perspective and put it behind us."

That was clear in the win at Duke. Wake Forest, playing at home after four straight road games, will be without starting guard Charlie Harrison, who suffered a sprained left knee at the end of the first half of the Florida State game. Harrison ran a mile on Monday and participated in light drills yesterday but is not expected to play tonight.

"We're going to try to hold him out of the Maryland game," Odom said. "It's possible he could play on a limited basis. But I would prefer we give his knee a full week's rest."

The loss of Harrison may not be noticed much if Rogers continues his dominant play.

ACC standings

7-.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Conf. .. .. .. Overall

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. W .. .. L .. .. W .. .. L .. Pct.

North Carolina .. .. 9 .. .. 2 .. .. 20 . .. 3 .. .870

Florida State ... .. 9 .. .. 2 .. .. 19 . .. 6 .. .760

Wake Forest .. .. .. 7 .. .. 3 .. .. 16 . .. 4 .. .800

Duke ... .. .. .. .. 7 .. .. 4 .. .. 19 . .. 4 .. .826

Virginia .. .. .. .. 7 .. .. 4 .. .. 15 . .. 5 .. .750

Georgia Tech . .. .. 5 .. .. 6 .. .. 12 . .. 8 .. .600

Clemson ... .. .. .. 2 .. .. 8 .. .. 12 . .. 8 .. .600

N.C. State ... .. .. 1 .. .. 9 .. ... 7 . . 13 .. .350

Maryland .. .. .. .. 1 .. . 10 .. .. 10 . . 11 .. .476

Today's games

Maryland at Wake Forest, 7

Florida State at N.C. State, 7:30

Georgia Tech at Richmond, 7:30

Clemson at North Carolina, 9

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