Reason for Terps to smile

maryland

After working back from injury and illness, stoic Rodgers is contributing

ncaa tournament

March 22, 2009|By Camille Powell | Camille Powell,The Washington Post

Kim Rodgers had plenty of chances to smile during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. But the Maryland redshirt freshman is notoriously stoic when she is on the basketball court, so she remained stone-faced after every timely three-pointer - and there were several - she hit during the three games in Greensboro, N.C. Her expression didn't change, even after she converted two pressure-packed free throws with 12.9 seconds left in overtime against Duke in the final, a 92-89 Terrapins victory.

"She hadn't played much during the season, and then she comes in and hits those big shots. You'd think she'd be happy about it and show some emotion!" said teammate Marissa Coleman, who is known for her exuberant personality. "I don't know what's wrong with her."

The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 10 points and shot 60 percent in the ACC tournament, and Coleman, who was named its Most Valuable Player, insists that Rodgers was "the real MVP of the tournament."

She teamed with fellow redshirt freshman Anjal? Barrett to give the Terrapins some much-needed depth as they head into the NCAA tournament. Top seed Maryland hosts 16th seed Dartmouth in a Raleigh Regional first-round game at Comcast Center today.

"Those guys haven't played a whole lot of minutes this season, but they work extremely hard in practice," senior Kristi Toliver said. "We know that we can always count on them when they come into the game to make big plays. ... So we're very balanced. We have a lot of threats. But I guess our opponents don't necessarily know all of them because they just haven't played the minutes."

Rodgers played 60 minutes and scored 43 points in 10 appearances during the regular season as she worked her way back from knee surgery and a preseason illness. She nearly equaled those totals in the ACC tournament, playing a total of 52 minutes and scoring 30 points.

"I personally had a lot of doubt, of whether my game would ever be the same, whether my knees would ever be the same," said Rodgers, who wears a big black knee brace. "And then you just think about where you're going to fit in when you come back. It's difficult."

Said coach Brenda Frese: "Credit to Kim, when called upon, she was ready. That's what great players do. Everybody knows what Marissa and KT and our starters can do, so you always have to bring in something different, somebody who's able to make some big-time plays. Man, she was phenomenal over the course of the weekend."

And now Rodgers is confident, and happy that she's finally able to play and contribute. But don't look for her to smile.

"My dad always taught me to have a poker face, so your opponent doesn't know what you're thinking, whether you're happy or sad," Rodgers said. "My teammates always joke and say that I don't have any emotions. That's just how I am."

today's games

First-round NCAA tournament Raleigh Regional matchups at Comcast Center, College Park:

[8] Villanova (19-13) vs. [9] Utah (22-9)

WHEN: Noon

TV: ESPN (wraparound)

OUTLOOK: Both teams play a deliberate style and are led by a talented senior: For the Wildcats from the Big East, it's 6-foot-2 forward Laura Kurz, who averages 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, and for the Utes, it's 5-11 guard Morgan Warburton, the Mountain West Player of the Year.

[1] Maryland (28-4) vs. [16] Dartmouth (18-10)

WHEN: Approximately 2:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

OUTLOOK: Terps senior Marissa Coleman is averaging 22.3 points on 57 percent shooting and 8.6 rebounds during Maryland's 12-game winning streak. Big Green sophomore Brittney Smith, a 6-1 forward, was the Ivy League Player of the Year.

Camille Powell

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