By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Senior guard Chris Rodgers denied being late to a pre-game meal that cost him a start against Houston Dec. 3.
Head coach Lute Olson benched Rodgers and senior guard Hassan Adams for being tardy to the meal. Rodgers, who sat the first 10 minutes of the first half, said he was confused by Olson’s explanation.
“Just for the record, I haven’t been late to anything for the three and a half years I’ve been here,” Rodgers said. “Obviously there’s a misconception and a misunderstanding of what went on there, so I just wanted to set the record straight for whoever was writing stuff.”
Rodgers did not elaborate on the incident but said “Coaches have their reasons, and we have our opinions about it. I’ve never been late to anything, Hassan neither.”
Olson meanwhile was visibly upset about Rodgers’ comments. “I think he needs to talk to me about my frustration,” Olson said.
Tongue-in-cheek, Olson said “It’s really difficult, if you’re open shoot, if you’re not open don’t shoot. If you can pass don’t dribble — it’s really confusing.”
Rodgers, who is averaging 10.3 points per game and is shooting 32.4 percent from the field, shot 2-9 from the field against Nothern Arizona in the following game but was benched for the entire second half.
Olson, after the game, said Rodgers’ lack of defense was the reason for benching the player.
“It’s never a lack of defense,” Rodgers said. “If you watch the game, you will see that I did play hard defense, and even some of the assistant coaches said I was playing defense. But what was the case, you have a guy who’s in foul trouble (Shakur) and I have no fouls.
“No one’s a perfect shooter. You’re going to miss shots. Everybody misses shots, but as a shooter you have to tell yourself to be confident and that you’re going to make the next shot,” Rodgers said.
“If you’re the best shooter on the team, your teammates and everyone has to have confidence in you to make those shots,” Rodgers said. “Defense is going to lead to offense and without your best defender you have no offense or you’re going to struggle with your offense, especially when the team is not shooting the ball well.”
Olson responded saying “That’s been the same story, it’s been consistent for three and a half years and I’ll guarantee you it won’t change as far as my opinion. I’ve been at this too long.
“I’m not going to let tough guys take bad shots or dribble when they should pass or over-penetrate. Here’s what you do, here’s what you don’t do. If you do this you play, if you don’t you sit next to me. I don’t think it takes a Rhodes Scholar to figure that out.”
Rodgers was suspended for the game against Washington State last season for not fulfilling team responsibilities and has not always been happy with his playing time.
“It’s real inconsistent,” Rodgers said of his playing time. “We’re a better team when I’m on the floor and up until the Houston game, I was playing well. The seniors need me out there. Hassan needs me out there to help me out and I do a good job as far as disrupting teams when I’m out there and we’re a better team when I’m out there. I think everybody can see that.
“There’s a lot of confusion as far as what the coach wants me to do when I’m out there,” Rodgers added later. “It’s kind of a frustrating situation.”
Olson said Rodgers would start at Utah on Saturday.
Rodgers and fifth senior Isaiah Fox are both graduating this week. Rodgers will receive a degree in psychology, after only three and a half years. Fox is in his ninth semester.
Olson said Adams is also on track to graduate after his eighth semester.
“It’s a relief and an accomplishment,” Rodgers said. “I’m proud of myself and my family is proud of me.”