Darrione Rogers starting to gain confidence in her freshman season


Alexa Sandler

DePaul freshman guard Darrione Rogers stays in front of a Villanova player on Jan. 4 at Wintrust Arena.

For some freshmen, it takes time before they can settle into a new environment and truly feel comfortable playing with a new team.

But for DePaul freshman guard Darrione Rogers, the “settling in” part has only taken about nine games, as she is now coming off back-to-back games with 20 or more points.

Rogers hasn’t had the luxury of a normal transition from high school to college because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like every other freshmen this season, Rogers has had to adapt differently to college basketball due to the different circumstances surrounding the sport this year. 

The Roselle, IL. native came off the bench in the season opener, a game in which the Blue Demons lost 93-91 to then-No. 13 Texas A&M. Rogers played 29 minutes and went 0-of-4 from the field, but added six rebounds and four assists. 

A couple of games later, DePaul took on then-No. 5 Louisville in the Jimmy V Classic and massively struggled against the Cardinals, losing 116-75. But Rogers was one of the bright spots on the night, leading the team with 25 points on 6-of-12 shooting and knocking down 12-of-15 free throws. 

Rogers was then inserted into the starting lineup in the fourth game of the season against Loyola Chicago, and her numbers and play on the court was about as steady as you could ask for a freshman. 

In DePaul’s upset 86-82 upset win over then-No. 9 Kentucky, Rogers scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds, while also playing a crucial role in her team’s stellar defensive performance. 

Rogers’ best game, arguably, came a couple of weeks later on the road against No. 3 UConn — a 75-52 loss for the Blue Demons — where the 5-foot-11 guard recorded her first career college basketball double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. 

“Throughout the games, I am feeling more and more confident,” Rogers said following DePaul’s win over Villanova. “And my teammates are really trusting me with the ball in my hands as well and they are finding me. Naturally, I am an aggressive player, and I think more and more throughout the season I have been able to build my confidence more. Definitely my coaching staff trusts me to have the ball in my hands and they trust me to knock down shots.”

The key to becoming a great player is by putting in consistent performance, and Rogers is already exhibiting some of those traits as she followed up the UConn performance by scoring 21 points in the team’s 94-82 win over Villanova six days later. 

“The game was won by the entire team,” DePaul women’s basketball head coach Doug Bruno said. “Darrione Rogers, you saw what she can do on the outside, but it was everybody. Lexi Held and Dee Bekelja both played a lot of minutes. Jorie Allen, this is just her third game, so she is trying to feel her way through all this. And Deja Church had some really, really solid minutes. It was a good overall ball game against a good Big East opponent.”

Rogers was a highly-rated recruit coming out of high school, where she was among the top 50 players in the country and ranked as a five-star. She was a two-time All-State guard for Lake Park West, averaging 25.9 points and 10 rebounds as a senior. 

But when playing for Bruno and a successful DePaul team, every freshman has to earn playing time. The Blue Demons have had freshmen in the past come into the roster and make significant contributions right away. 

A couple of years ago, it was Lexi Held and Sonya Morris who helped the team win a Big East Tournament championship. Two seasons later, Held and Morris are now two leaders on the team looking to help Rogers and freshman guard Kendall Holmes succeed like they did in their freshman year. 

“I feel like since freshman year, the fact that [Lexi and I] played a lot together, we have had each other’s back,” Morris said in November. “I feel like with our experience together we just have been closer, on and off the court honestly. And during practice we both just compete at a really high level, so we make each other better every day. So, I just feel like that’s why I’m so close to Lexi, on top of the laughs, jokes and all of that.”

DePaul is going to hope that Rogers and Holmes can continue their early season success and carry that into February and March. But Rogers’ confidence is already increasing this season, which should bode well for her and the Blue Demons. 

“Throughout the games, I’m building more and more confidence, and I think my teammates and coaching staff are really trusting me with the ball in my hands and they are finding me,” Rogers said. “I have just been able to knock down shots and execute offensively.”