Former Wolfpack star hopes to help Eagles be successful
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Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011

Former Wolfpack star hopes to help Eagles be successful

Rodney Monroe has seen success at every level of basketball.

The former shooting guard was Maryland's all-time leading high school scorer when he graduated from St. Maria Goretti High. Then he went on to score 2,551 points at N.C. State on his way to breaking Hall of Famer David Thompson's Wolfpack scoring record and being named the 1991 ACC Player of the Year.

The 43-year-old, who played with the Atlanta Hawks for a season before having a 15-year career overseas, hopes to translate his success as a player into coaching as he takes over SouthLake Christian's basketball program.

Monroe was approached by SouthLake after coaching at Lake Norman Christian for the past few seasons. He said that after considering the move, he decided that taking over the Eagles' program would put him in a good situation.

He will coach the boys' varsity and boys' middle school teams this season, while also overseeing the entire boys' and girls' programs as director of basketball at the Huntersville private school.

"Our goal here is to make basketball a sport in which we can compete with all of the other private schools in the area - the Charlotte Christians, the Charlotte Latins," said Monroe.

Having played for many different coaches, including former St. Maria Goretti coach Robert "Cokey" Robertson and former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano, Monroe said he picked up the characteristics that he liked along the way.

"I've taken the good from all those coaches, and that kind of makes up my coaching style," he said.

Monroe, who gained national recognition as part of the Wolfpack's "Fire and Ice" backcourt along with teammate Chris Corchiani, said his calm and composed attitude that earned him his "Ice" nickname can be helpful as a coach.

"It plays a big role in end-of-game situations, coming down the stretch," he said. "It's all about keeping the kids calm, knowing that the game's not over and that you have to keep your head up and execute the way we draw the play."

The Eagles, who won only one game last year under former coach Ben Handlogten, will count on four seniors, three of whom were at SouthLake last season, as well as two juniors this season.

"We're going to be a young team, but bringing in a few players, it should definitely be an upgrade from the team last year," said Monroe, who adds that he will run an up-tempo, transition style at SouthLake.

Senior point guard Connor Duncan's strength and quickness has impressed Monroe. Shooters Andrew Webber, a senior left-hander, and Andrew Green, a Statesville Christian transfer, should give the Eagles a deep threat.

Lake Norman Christian transfers Jalen Sanders, a point guard, and Ben McCrickard, who Monroe said was his "do-everything" guy last year, should also give SouthLake a boost in the back. Mallard Creek transfer Ralphael McCullum, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, should solidify the front court.

"We have to get everybody on the same page because kids are coming from all different places," said Monroe. "It'll be my job to make them mesh together."

Monroe admits that name recognition helps get kids' attention in practice. He has achieved the dreams of many of them by playing college and professional basketball, so they look up to him.

"But that only gets you in the door," said Monroe. "You then have to deliver."

Tovar: 704-358-5941.

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