Rodriquez Sherman: Akron Beacon Journal Feature
Sherman assumes role as general
Quiet, lone senior takes over leadership duties, offensive sets at guard
By Stephanie Storm
Beacon Journal sports writer
Published on Saturday, Oct 23, 2010
Rodriquez Sherman was shouldering a lot of pressure for the Kent State basketball team as the only senior on an otherwise young and energetic squad.
With no one else to share the mental load, the quiet Sherman felt the responsibility of learning to lead vocally, even though his style is more suited for leading by example.
That burden began to ease once Sherman and his teammates officially took the court for practice in the past two weeks.
''I was really struggling with it for a while,'' said Sherman, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard from Indianapolis. ''It's challenging to be the only senior on a team, a young team. I'm not the kind of guy who yells all the time. But then I kind of came to the conclusion to just let loose and have faith.''
The first day of practice, Sherman's new teammates — all eight of them — quickly helped quiet his fears.
''I really didn't know how this was going to go going into practice,'' said Sherman, who was sidelined for the 2008-09 season after knee surgery. ''But that first day, everyone was so competitive and just playing hard, I realized we were all going to be just fine.''
Sherman, who averaged 10.6 points and four rebounds last season as the Golden Flashes' point guard and is considered the team's best defender, is returning to his original role as shooting guard this year.
''It gives me more opportunities to score, and I can still lead from that position,'' he said. ''And I'll still be running the one a lot because I rebound, and we'll run in transition.''
Though the move initially took Sherman out of his comfort zone, he soon grew comfortable in the demanding point guard position last season.
''I fell in love with it to be honest,'' Sherman said. ''I liked having the ball in my hands, knowing I can make plays and being seen as a general.''
It was, in hindsight, a way to help transition him into this season's much-needed leadership role. With an influx of eight fresh faces, including three in the backcourt, Sherman will be relied on to help ease the newcomers into comfortable roles as the Flashes look to skip what would otherwise be considered a rebuilding year.
''Our talent is so good and it's athletic with good size. It's more of a matter of how we incorporate the new players into what we want to do,'' KSU coach Geno Ford said. ''That's where Rod will come in, helping everyone make the transition perhaps sooner than we would have so we come together quickly.''
Ford is excited about the team's potential in the backcourt, where the handful of athletic and interchangeable parts could eventually make for a high-scoring offense.
In addition to Sherman, the Flashes return sophomore guard Randal Holt, who averaged 3.9 points and 1.4 assists as Sherman's backup last season as a rookie. Coming off two knee surgeries in as many years, Sherman said Holt ''is finally 100 percent healthy.''
Junior newcomer Michael Porrini attended high school at Massillon, where he was rated as the fourth-best point guard in Ohio before playing at Western Carolina and Gulf Coast Community College for the past two seasons. With Western Carolina, Porrini averaged 11.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.9 steals.
''He's strong-minded, hard-nosed and very competitive,'' Sherman said. ''Although he's originally a point guard, he can play the two as well.''
Guyton, an athletic and multi-dimensional guard, averaged 15 points, 5.1 rebounds. 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals for Mineral Area College in Missouri last season. At the same time, Gaines was leading his Hillcrest High School team to a 3A state championship earlier this year while averaging 14.8 points, four rebounds and 3.9 assists for the 31-3 squad.
''This could be the best transition offense team we've had here in seven years,'' Ford said.