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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 1/23/2014

Rams follow path to EMU

Rogers grads Sweeney, Walker are Eagles; 2 to follow

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Sweeney Sweeney
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YPSILANTI, Mich. — A connection has been established between Rogers High School and Eastern Michigan University.

Actually, it is more of a pipeline between the Rams’ girls basketball team and the EMU women’s squad, which already has two Rogers graduates on the roster and will add two more next season.

Eagles coach Tory Verdi said the addition of guard Cha Sweeney this season, and both Sasha Dailey and Tori Easley next year, will help speed the improvement of a program that is 12-4 this season after claiming just eight victories last year.

Rogers grad KaBria Walker, a sophomore walk-on, has played in four games.

“We felt that if we landed Cha, that would change the landscape of our program,” Verdi said. “But all three girls come from a great program. [Rogers coach] Lamar [Smith] really does a great job of preparing his players for college.”

The Eagles play at 7 p.m. today at Bowling Green.

Sweeney has had an immediate impact for the Eagles, ranking second among Mid-American Conference freshmen at 14.2 points per game. She also is tied for 11th in the league in assists (3.2 per game)

“Eastern Michigan seemed like a good fit,” Sweeney said of her decision to sign with the school less than an hour’s drive north of Toledo. “We are rebuilding, and I like to play guard in a program that plays a running game.

“I talked to a lot of MAC schools — I was talking to BG — but I decided to start somewhere fresh.”

Sweeney said the adjustment to college wasn’t as difficult as it might seem.

“When I was at Rogers, I was in UT’s high school program,” she said. “That helped me prepare to balance things like school and basketball.

“On the court there still are some things I have to fix, but I’m getting better.”

Her coach at EMU said her value to the Eagles goes beyond statistics.

“She’s not scared to take big shots,” Verdi said of Sweeney. “She can score when we need points.

“It’s nice to have a player like her who can step up and take over games.”

Verdi said that the addition of Dailey and Easley, two of six players Eastern Michigan signed this year, also will help his program.

“Sasha is a player I consider similar to Dwyane Wade because she is athletic and can slash and score,” Verdi said. “I think she is really going to excel at the next level, so getting her to commit was huge for us.

“And Tori has a ton of potential. I think her best basketball is ahead of her.”

NOTE: EMU’s roster also includes junior forward Olivia Fouty, a Northview High School product. After missing last season because of an injury, Fouty has started 15 of the Eagles’ 16 games this year and averages 12.3 points and a team-best 9.6 rebounds per game.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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