2017 Father Judge graduate Marc Rodriguez is continuing his hot streak at ESU.
If you saw him in high school, you knew Marc Rodriguez was always comfortable taking a jump shot.
The 2017 Father Judge High School grad always looked like he knew exactly what he was doing on the court, even during his freshman year when he was a member of the Crusaders’ varsity team.
Rodriguez could do it all.
But when he arrived at East Stroudsburg University last fall, Rodriguez wasn’t 100 percent comfortable.
His role on the his college team was much different than his role at Judge, and the way the Warriors played was vastly different than he was used to playing under Crusaders coach Sean Tait.
“Coming to East Stroudsburg definitely took me out of my comfort zone,” said Rodriguez, who was the first 1,000-point scorer in Father Judge history. “The biggest thing was in college, we would rotate after about four minutes, and I wasn’t used to that in high school. And we press all the time.
“At Judge, we would jog in a half-court set and then set everything up. We never jog at East Stroudsburg. We run, we sprint at all times. It’s always on the move and I had to play defense differently. It was a lot different.”
Because of the changes, it took Rodriguez some time to get acclimated to the Warriors’ way of doing things. It also took some getting used to coming off the bench instead of playing every critical minute of the game like he did when he was wearing baby blue.
But whatever his role was, Rodriguez did it and did it to the best of his ability.
“It was definitely hard,” Rodriguez said. “I had some problems some times. But I’m really lucky because whenever I was down, I have great family and friends and they helped me. I think I got better at everything as the season went on. I wanted to play more, but it was a good freshman year.”
Instead of being upset at his playing time, Rodriguez did what he did his entire basketball career, he worked harder to get better.
The freshman scored 6.3 points per game while playing an average of a little more than 17 minutes per game.
He also continued his great long-distance shooting, knocking down 56 3-point shots, which was a record for East Stroudsburg freshmen, while helping the school finish 27–6, including the school’s first ever Division II Atlantic Region championship.
He also was at his best when the season ended, hitting double figures in the Warriors’ final eight games.
The harder he worked, the better he got. And that’s exactly what he’s doing this summer.
Since Rodriguez is two hours away during the school year, he is soaking up as much time with his family and friends as possible. But he’s also spending every day in the gym.
“I usually play basketball six days a week,” said Rodriguez, who lives in Resurrection parish. “I would say 60 percent of the time, I’m doing drills and the rest playing. I’m trying to work on everything I can. I want to be in better shape and I want to play better.”
To get better, Rodriguez has found the perfect person to work out with.
All summer, he’s been spending time in the gym with Archbishop Ryan grad and now Penn State guard Izaiah Brockington.
The two had legendary battles during their days in high school, but even when they were doing their best to beat each other, they were close friends.
That friendship continues as they push each other to improve.
“We never didn’t like each other, even when we had the Judge and Ryan thing going,” Rodriguez said with a laugh. “We were both trying to help our teams, but we were still friends. We work together now to make each other better. I learn a lot from him. He’s a very good player and he helps me get better.”
Rodriguez is always looking for improvement, and while his basketball game certainly grew as the year went on, it pales in comparison to what he did in the classroom.
He had a good first semester, and even though he was doing fine, he worked even harder during the spring and was rewarded with better grades.
“I worked really hard because I wanted to do better,” said Rodriguez, who is majoring in exercise science. “I’m going to school for an education, so I wanted to make sure I really worked hard, and I did. I worked (in the first semester), but I knew I could do better. I was pretty happy with the (second semester). I think I was happier because I worked for it.”
Once his playing days are over, Rodriguez hopes to catch on with a team as a strength and conditioning coach. But before he hangs up the sneakers, he hopes to get his degree from East Stroudsburg and then possibly make some money from his jumpshot.
“Playing professional basketball would be great because it would be getting money for nothing, just doing something I love,” Rodriguez said. “I’m glad I’m (at East Stroudsburg) because it’s making me a well-rounded player. I’m hoping to keep getting better to help them while getting my education. Then see what happens.”
Even if it’s out of his comfort zone.
“The more I play the way we play, I’m going to keep learning and keep getting better,” Rodriguez said. “It’s hard work, but I’m making it fun. I have great support and I love the school.” ••