Terry Rozier: Sophomore guard with veteran presence

By on November 12, 2014

By Haley O’Shaughnessy 

This year’s Louisville squad is in good hands. The veteran presence, professional approach and one-of-a-kind talent that guard Terry Rozier has will reverberate positively throughout the team.  When you watch him on the court, you wouldn’t guess Rozier to be just a sophomore, but the underclassman is ready to lead.

Rozier has an entire team behind him, but he has a confidence all his own.

“I wake up. I look myself in the mirror, and I’m true to myself because no matter what anyone else says, I know myself better than anyone,” he said. “Anybody can tell me anything, how good I am or not or whatever, but deep down inside, I know how good I am and how much work I have to do.”

Rozier is not the only one who believes in his potential. When Rick Pitino talks about Rozier’s “quantum leap,” he is not referring to his hop step or rebounds– even though the off-guard chalked up the fifth most rebounds of the team last season despite only averaging 18.9 minutes a game. No, instead, Pitino is talking about his massive transition from freshman to sophomore.

“He’s come a long way, from being a good freshman to being one of the premier backcourt players in the country. It’s a quantum leap,” Pitino said.

Rozier fits well in the guard-anchored team because of his maturity as a player and quickness on the court. His 38 steals were tied for third most on the team, and this year, that number is expected to jump as he is now in a leading role.

Last season, the pressure to produce and create baskets was where it should have been: in the hands of current Pelicans guard Russ Smith. He was a senior and a leader to Rozier, who was a freshman with no more pressure to live up to than his recruiting hype. Rozier only averaged seven points a game compared to Smith’s 18.2, but averaged ten fewer minutes per game.

Now a sophomore on a freshmen-heavy team, Rozier finds himself becoming the Mr. Miyagi. All preseason, Pitino has reiterated the importance of four upperclassman leaders, and he includes Rozier. The sophomore is placed alongside senior and national champion Wayne Blackshear, preseason All-American junior and national champion Montrezl Harrell and senior point guard Chris Jones.

In his important minutes as a freshman, Rozier did not panic. The guard who had the ball in his hands kept it in his hands, only turning the ball over 22 times the whole season.

His mature play can be attributed to his professional approach.

“Since the first day that he arrived, he steps onto the court as if he’s a ten-year NBA veteran,” Pitino said.

“He just carries about his business in a workman’s type way and he just looks to get better. He’s really one of the easiest guys to coach I have ever had. He knows he’s very good but he doesn’t show big ego.”

Backcourt partner Chris Jones knows Rozier is ready to step up to copilot the team.

“Terry’s a great player… Terry is just a raw talent- he’ll adapt to it pretty well. He only played 19 minutes (a game) because there were upper guys,” he said. “His game will show it, and he’ll have four other guys that will help him, and also lean on him.”

Paired up with Jones, Rozier has a chance to shine in his starting role for the Cardinals’ backcourt.

“There are a lot of good backcourts in college basketball, I wont say we are the best backcourt but I don’t think I would take anybody over these two guys.”

Rozier knows his role, and echoes his coach when he speaks about it.

“We are a program that gets better as the year goes on. We have six freshmen, and Coach P talks everyday that we need them to step up. It’s us upperclassmen guys’ role to get them better,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, we are going to have grind out games just about every game.

“It’s tough, but it’s something that we look forward to.”

Photo by Austin Lassell / The Louisville Cardinal 

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