Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Alabama State assistant coach Steve Rogers about being one of the best free throw shooters in NCAA history and the upcoming Alabama State season.
Your leading scorer from last year (Joshua Freelove) has joined Bobby Hurley’s team at Buffalo. How will you be able to fill the offensive void left by his departure? He averaged around 12 points, but we will find some young guys to score. We are bigger, faster, stronger and will play a complete game.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I am expecting a lot from our guys. We are diverse in the things we can do and I am very excited.
You played one year at Middle Tennessee State before transferring to Alabama State. Why did you decide to transfer, and why did you pick the Hornets? I am originally from Montgomery, Alabama, and some of my friends and relatives went to school here. I wanted to get close to home and start fresh.
In 1991 you were named All-American and SWAC Player of the Year. What did it mean to you to win such outstanding individual honors? It was an awesome feeling: I never could have imagined all the accolades I received. I worked hard for it, and the possibilities were endless.
Your 713 career free throws made remains in the all-time top-25 in NCAA history. How were you able to get to the line so much, and what is your secret for FT shooting? I have always played well with the ball in my hands and was crafty. I could get past guys and jump high enough to draw fouls. I actually thought I could have had a higher FT% in college.
In the summer of 1992 you were drafted in the second round by New Jersey. Did you see that as a validation of your college career, or the realization of a lifelong dream of reaching the NBA, or other? A little bit of both. It was an honor to be drafted after dreaming about it for a long time. The Nets had Drazen Petrovic, and it was a thrill to meet him.
You spent the next decade playing pro basketball in Europe and South America. What did you learn from these experiences, and how did they compare to college basketball? Overseas is where I really learned the game. I played in the Euroleague, where I played against talented guys each and every night. It helps me now with my coaching.
After retiring you returned to your alma mater as both coordinator of football operations and assistant basketball coach. How were you able to balance the two gigs, and which one did you enjoy more? I just did football for two years, and left that to coach basketball, which is what I always wanted to do.
Head coach Lewis Jackson has his #33 jersey hanging in the rafters and is a member of the SWAC HOF: what made him such a good player, and what makes him such a good coach? Lewis is a very, very tough competitor, which we had to have to play for Coach James Oliver. He and Kevin Yoder helped set the stage for me as I tried to reach their level.
You have made the NCAA tourney twice in the past five years: what is your favorite tourney memory? We played against Morehead State in 2009 and Kenneth Faried held our whole team hostage! He worked so hard on defense and blocked a bunch of shots, but just being there validated us as champions.