Rodgers improving

Chris Rodgers came to Arizona billed as one of the best guard recruits in the country. After a terrific showing in the summer camps, Rodgers quickly rose to the top of both point guard and shooting guard lists. He gave an early commitment to the Wildcats, then seemed to be forgotten as Arizona added the rest of its recruiting class.

Chris Rodgers had all the tools. At the 2001 summer camps he showed that he could score, pass and defend. He gave an early verbal and helped spread the Arizona word at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis. Rodgers played so well that the combo-guard was now being seen as one of the better point guards in the class.

Things seemed fine for the Portland native until there was a problem with his entrance exams. Rodgers had always been an excellent student, so the test score came as a major surprise to Rogers and the Wildcats. Rodgers was diagnosed with a learning disorder and eventually the NCAA cleared him to play for the Wildcats.

Rodgers was a great distributor during the summer camp circuit, but had to take a scoring role with his high school team when the season started. He was often times a one-man show for Wilson High as he took the scoring load for his undermanned squad. By the time he got to Arizona it was clear that he had to shake the scorer's mentality.

"It's a little bit like what we dealt with Will (Bynum) a year ago," Lute Olson said. "When you've been on a team where you had to do so much, it takes time to find other good players on the floor. Yet he knows, as Will knew last year, that a key ingredient in college basketball is making your team better. As a point guard you have to make your team better."

The adjustment from the high school game to the college game was tougher for Rodgers than many had anticipated. Although he was well schooled in fundamentals, he wasn't used to the rigors of an Olson practice or the discipline it takes to run his offense.

"Any adjustment from high school to a D-I program is a big change," Rodgers said. "It's been a big adjustment. I just got to continue to work hard and get better day to day. That's all I can do."

Even without Salim Stoudamire in the lineup, Rodgers has found minutes hard to come by. Rodgers has averaged just 8.7 minutes off the bench, but saw no action against San Diego State. The lack of playing time against the Aztecs made it even more surprising when Olson heaped praise on Rodgers during his weekly press conference.

"Chris Rodgers looked very good in practice this week," Olson said. "It's been difficult but Chris is making really good progress. In my opinion he's still our best defensive guard."

Olson has always stressed defense as a way to earn time. Despite not playing much, Rodgers was not surprised when told of Olson's comments.

"It's not really news," Rodgers said. "I'm just taking day by day, practice by practice. That's pretty much how you have to go. Patience is the key, the key for me and the key to all things. If it happens it will happen, as long as our team is still playing and getting the wins. Whatever lineup is good for that game or however (coach Olson) wants to go with it, that's cool."

Rodgers is learning to play the point better, but prides himself on his versatility. At 6-3, with a long frame, Rodgers can do a lot of things on the floor.

"I just consider myself a guard," Rodgers said. "I can play the one, two or the three, all three positions. I'll play wherever they want me at, however I can best contribute to the team. If they are looking at me to play the point guard position, then that's what I'll have to change my game to play. I'll have to make the adjustment to play that position."

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