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FOR MATT Rogers, playing basket-
ball has meant embracing one new
experience afer another, and the
latest is a season with the Canter-
bury Rams.
Te 2.1m American centre ar-
rived in Christchurch last week and
already likes what he sees.
“I’ve had a chance to see some of
the countryside and get to know my
teammates. Everyone’s been really
friendly and done a good job taking
care of us (Rogers and fellow Ameri-
can import Glen Dandridge).”
Rogers attended Southwest Bap-
tist University, in his home state of
Missouri, at the same time as Rams
development coach Caleb Harrison,
who drew on the link to entice Rog-
ers out here earlier this year
He says he hopes to be both an
offensive and defensive presence on
the court, while using his experience
to help his teammates and bring the
new team together.
Rogers said the highlight of his
career was the two conference
championships he won with the
Southwest Baptist Bearcats in the
Mid-America Intercollegiate Ath-
letics Association, in 2008 and 2009.
Tere he played under coach Jeff
Guiot, who he calls the biggest influ-
ence on his career so far.
“He just pushed me and chal-
lenged me every day. He made me
a better player and communicator.”
In his senior year, Rogers tore his
ACL, the most serious of several
injuries he’s had to endure. He said
dealing with injuries was the hardest
part of his career. Most dramatically,
he had bones in his face shattered by
a stray elbow, requiring reconstruc-
tive surgery.
Afer leaving college, he spent
the 2010 NBA pre-season with the
Charlotte Bobcats, which he says
was a real eye opener.
‘I got a chance to really see what
it takes to be a professional at that
level. It’s not a past-time or some-
thing you just enjoy, but it’s truly
your job and your career, something
you have to work towards every sin-
gle day.”
He was cut by the Bobcats be-
fore the season proper began, and
wound up at the Texas Legends in
the NBA’s Development League. He
signed with the Indiana Pacers for
the 2011 pre-season, but afer being
cut again returned to the Legends.
In early 2012, his pursuit of a bas-
ketball career took him to Europe,
where he played for clubs in Leba-
non, Spain, then to the Philippines
and Qatar, before he decided to
make New Zealand the latest stamp
on his passport.
Rams coach Dave Harrison said
Rogers will bring a lot to the team.
“Matt’s going to bring a big body -
not ofen do we get six foot eleven in
our league,” Harrison said: “He’s just
a passionate, enthusiastic individual
and he really adds to the character
of our team.”
Te praise goes both ways.
“Coach Dave is great. He’s been
very good about taking some of
what Glen or I have experienced in
the past – ways we’ve had success –
and allowed us to share that with
the team and started to incorporate
“He does a good job of recognising
the positives in each player’s game
and brings that forth,” Rogers said.
Rogers is hoping he will be able to
bring more than blocks and buckets
to the region.
He said that when he first talked
with Caleb about the Rams, they
recognised that they wanted the
team to really get involved with the
“I know that the earthquakes and
everything they presented was very
hard for many of Christchurch’s
people, so this is an opportunity to
get out and enjoy themselves again.”
“I’m looking to be more than just
a basketball player. I want to start
doing public speaking, and start
reaching out, using basketball as a
platform to speak to churches and
schools, and show them a basketball
player that tries to live the way God
wants them to.”
Te Rams’ season tips off on April
6 with a game against the Welling-
ton Saints at Cowles Stadium.
On and off-court pIans for Rams centre
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