Freshman Sugar Rodgers has led Georgetown women to new heights

Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers accepts the Big East women's basketball Freshman of the Year award in Hartford, Conn., on Friday.
Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers accepts the Big East women's basketball Freshman of the Year award in Hartford, Conn., on Friday. (Jessica Hill/associated Press)
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By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 7, 2010

Inside the Georgetown women's basketball office hangs a large wooden plaque that commemorates the Hoyas who have been honored by the Big East Conference. For years, the plaque gathered dust as no Georgetown player had received a weekly conference award since Katrina Wheeler was selected rookie of the week on Jan. 2, 2006.

Then, on Nov. 30, Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown's preternaturally gifted freshman, was named the Big East rookie of the week. Finally, the Hoyas could add another gold plate to their plaque. The only problem was it had been so long that nobody remembered whom to call to engrave it.

Georgetown won't be losing the phone number for the engraver anytime soon. Rodgers was named the Big East rookie of the week four more times, and on Friday became the third Georgetown player to win Big East rookie of the year honors. She and her teammates open the Big East tournament on Sunday evening against Rutgers in Hartford, Conn. The No. 3 seed Hoyas (25-5, 13-3 Big East) haven't won a Big East tournament game since 2001.

"We've got an incredible player," junior guard Monica McNutt said after Rodgers scored 27 points against Rutgers on Jan. 30. "I think for a freshman to come in and be so mature as an athlete, as a player, is incredible."

Rodgers, a 5-foot-11 guard from King's Fork High School in Suffolk, Va., is the Big East's third-leading scorer (18.1 points per game). She has started every game but one -- senior night on Tuesday against Seton Hall -- and has scored in double figures in 29 of 30 games.

Rodgers, who finished with 20 or more points in 12 games, set a school single-season record for three-pointers (79) and led the Big East (2.6 per game). Despite her penchant for scoring, she didn't come to Georgetown thinking she would be nearly as prolific as she has been.

"Oh no, I didn't think that at all," Rodgers said. "I thought I was going to come in and have like, nine, eight [points a game], not 20."

Rodgers isn't shy about shooting and has put up more shots this season than anybody in the Big East. She has attempted 455 field goals, 187 of which she made (41.1 percent).

"Sugar is Sugar," Georgetown Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "There's one thing she's not going to stop doing and that's shooting." Though Williams-Flournoy added that she doesn't remember Rodgers taking many bad shots.

Pittsburgh so far has been the only team to hold Rodgers to single digits. In Georgetown's 66-63 win on Feb. 10, Rodgers finished with two points on 1-of-9 shooting.

Rodgers came to Georgetown after playing for Boo Williams Elite, a successful AAU program run by Williams-Flournoy's brother. Many people figured once his sister became the Hoyas coach, Williams would establish a pipeline funneling talented players in his program to Georgetown. Until now, that hasn't been the case.

"If anybody knew my brother, they knew that was a lie because he doesn't help anybody get players," said Williams-Flournoy, who's in her sixth season at Georgetown. "He would never want to have the reputation that he sent kids to Georgetown. . . . A lot of people still think [he sends her players]. Because now, whoo, we actually are getting one of his players. We've got two coming next year so now they'll start. But I'll tell them: 'What about five years ago? What are you complaining about?' . . . He's not going to give me anything. You want this kid, you come work for it."

Rodgers is only the second player to arrive at Georgetown out of Boo Williams's program. Senior guard Shanice Fuller was the first.

"We treat her like any other coach," Williams said. "If I had [sent her players], she would have gotten there a lot quicker than she has."

This season, the Hoyas vaulted into the Associated Press poll for the first time in 15 years and are ranked No. 12 in the latest poll. They reached 20 wins faster and have more wins than any team in program history. Their 13 Big East victories are more than they've had in the past two seasons combined.

"Well, you don't want it to take this long," Williams-Flournoy said. "You make mistakes. You've got to live with some mistakes. You got a whole lot of things that you've got to figure out how to do, how to get done. You think you can come in and get it done in one or two years."


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