Often, interim head coaches are interim for a reason. The individual is simply missing a key ingredient. They’re too honest, or not honest enough. They’re too likable, or not likable enough. They’re too connected with the players, or not connected enough. It’s a delicate balance.
Thus far, we’ve seen none of those shortcomings from Red Wolves interim head coach Destinee Rogers, now 6-1 since assuming the helm from the departed Matt Daniels.
There was a moment during the Red Wolves slaughter of ULM, when Keya Patton was dropping thirty first-half points on the hapless Warhawks. “Everybody was trying to chest bump me,” recalled Coach Rogers, “and I’m like, I’m trying to coach this game.”
The team has responded to Destinee Rogers in a positive way, but she hasn’t lost her focus. The moment hasn’t become too big. The team has yet to detect a lack of leadership or confidence. Arkansas State sits a half game behind Troy in the Sun Belt standings, backed by Jada Stinson’s 12 points per game and Morgan Wallace’s seven boards. Troy may still own women’s basketball in the Sun Belt, but the Rogers’ led Red Wolves have looked uncharacteristically dangerous.
So far, Coach Rogers has bared all qualities necessary to remain head coach. She can command Xs and Os. She can motivate players (Rogers called out Patton to step up before the 30 point avalanche against ULM). She handles the press with a perfect measure of transparency and coach-speak. She comes from a family of head coaches, and she’s been around that block a couple times.
Elevating the head coach from interim-to-permanent is not without its perils. Sometimes, a new face creates an artificial heat. Game play and player motivation is only part of the game. Can Rogers recruit? Can she deal with obnoxious boosters and fans? Can she create and run an off-season program?
I suspect she can do it all – but I’m no evaluator of coaching talent. However, I do see in Destinee Rogers a hardworking, highly-skilled, charismatic, “been-there-done-that” coach with polish behind the podium that the Red Wolves would be remiss to lose.
Put a contract in front of Destinee Rogers, and let us hope we’re lucky enough she signs it.
PHOTO CREDITS: Mine