Before last season, Sugar Rodgers — Georgetown’s dominant shooting guard — knew she would be the scorer on a team full of threats. That skill will be in even greater demand this year, as Rodgers scored more than 70 percent of the points posted by the Hoyas’ underclassmen last season.

And she will have to carve out that role with a new coach and a team that includes four freshmen on its depleted 10-woman roster. The expectations for Rodgers are still high, however, with the senior’s having been named to the preseason all-Big East team and with WNBA prospects looming after graduation.

The biggest change for Rodgers from last year to this  year is probably adjusting to new Head Coach Keith Brown, who took over at Georgetown when former Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy left for Auburn. It also might be the smoothest transition of all.

“We know Coach Brown. He recruited most of us,” Rodgers said. “He wasn’t head coach — he was an assistant — but he had that head-coach mentality, so him as head coach is very exciting.”

And although some players might be daunted by Brown’s outspoken courtside demeanor, Rodgers seems to relish it.

“He motivates us, more than anything,” Rodgers said. “So if you see him yelling, that’s just motivation.”

What will be tougher for Rodgers and the team to adjust to is the departure of seven seniors and sophomore Taylor Brown’s decision to transfer to George Mason. That leaves a much smaller roster, one with fewer options for the Blue and Gray’s coaches to put on the court.

“I’m going to miss having a lot of people,” Rodgers said. “Now we only have 10 people. That’s not that many subs, so you have to be able to play the whole game and be in top-notch shape.”

Of course, Rodgers averaged 31 minutes per game last season, so it’s not like she was getting a lot of breaks anyway.

“She’ll play the whole game,” senior center Sydney Wilson said of Rodgers. “But it’s just good to know there is someone who could come in for you and give you a potential break.”

One way to cope with having less potential for a breather is the weight room. That was just one part of Rodgers’ summer routine, however.

“I’ve worked more on ball handling this summer and midrange game,” Rodgers said. “And getting bigger, faster and stronger.”

Those skills will be essential if Rodgers is to transcend her role as a points producer and provide more help to the youngest Hoyas. Making sure she does so is one of Brown’s biggest concerns.

“I’m going to need points from everybody. Sugar is going to give us what she’s going to give us, but everybody in the country knows it,” Brown said.

Somewhat counterintuitively, Brown believes that developing more scoring threats alongside Rodgers will boost the senior’s productivity.

“They’re going to be defending her, but if the other girls can take up the slack and score some points — not 20, but seven or eight — they’ll free Sugar up to score some more points, since she’s extremely efficient.”

That efficiency has made Rodgers the second-highest scorer in Georgetown history, and, as she is just 78 points out of first place, she will likely set a record this season that will last for years to come.

Either way, she is ahead of both Rebekkah Brunson and Katie Smrcka-Duffy on the scoring list. That’s significant because both of those stars of the previous decade went on to the WNBA, something that Rodgers aspires to do as well.

“The WNBA is there. I could go. I want to go,” Rodgers said. “It’s kind of like a dream come true … not just for me but for some of the people around me who don’t get the opportunity to go.”

Mock drafts have Rodgers going early in the first round, behind stars like Baylor’s Brittney Griner and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne that have broken into mainstream consciousness.

“I’m very excited for [the WNBA], and I’m kind of speechless, since it’s right around the corner,” Rodgers said. “But I’ve got to focus on my last college debut. I’ve got to focus on my senior year, since that’s even more exciting.”

Unlike last season, these Hoyas are not burdened by high expectations. For Rodgers, that’s reduced some of the pressure — and given her hope that the best is yet to come.
“I say, ‘No pressure.’ You go out there and play basketball, and at the end, you’ll see your results,” Rodgers said.

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