Bill Trocchi
Thursday February 28th, 2008

Portal Rogers has a purple hat that she's saving for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game. Whether or not she gets to wear it is largely up to her son, Charron Fisher.

Niagara's senior sharpshooter leads the nation in scoring (27.9 ppg) and may also lead in maternal support. Fisher's mother has made all but two games of Fisher's senior season from her home outside of Philadelphia and has become quite a celebrity among the Purple Eagles supporters. Rogers says she does a "roll call" for the Niagara players before each game and keeps up the enthusiasm for 40 minutes.

"Everyone can hear her," says Fisher. "She gets the end zone going at home and we get a big advantage."

The frequent trips Rogers has made have not been easy. As a daycare provider, Rogers says she needs to give ample notice to her clients so they can make arrangements when she is away. Financially, Rogers does whatever she can to make trips, including selling pizzas and candy on the side over the summer.

"She really doesn't have the money to fly to places," Fisher says. "Every game is a struggle. She gets help from family members with plane tickets, or takes the train or shares rides with people. It is tough for her to get here, so that is why it is so important to me to get the job done."

Rogers was able to make Niagara's trip to San Francisco in December for the two-game Cable Car Classic, which it won, and she has everything lined up for the rest of the year, including a possible NCAA tournament trip. Rogers missed last year's Niagara-Kansas first-round matchup because of a weather delay and she says she cried for nearly a week.

"I love the game of basketball and I love seeing my son play," says Rogers, who wears one of four purple-and-black outfits to every game. "I feel like he needs to hear my voice. That's all I do. I don't party. I go to church and I go to my son's games. That is my enjoyment."

There has been plenty to enjoy lately. Fisher scored 45 points at Loyola (Md.) on Feb. 10, and had 41 in his next game against Iona, becoming the first player since Gonzaga's Adam Morrison in 2006 to have back-to-back 40-point games. Fisher has scored at least 30 points 10 times and has scored a at least 17 points in every game as Niagara (17-8, 11-5 in the MAAC) has surged into a tie for first place in its conference.

Fisher has been on the floor every game this season, something that had not happened since arriving from Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High in Philadelphia. His freshman season was cut short with 13 games left by a knee injury. As a sophomore, an injury to his other knee caused him to miss the final 10 games. Last year, Fisher missed the first eight games after he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault following a fight outside a Niagara nightclub.

According to the Niagara Gazette, Jeffrey St. Denis, a pitcher on the Niagara baseball team, was getting into his car when Fisher grabbed him, punched him in the mouth and knocked him to the ground. The victim said he was surrounded by other members of the basketball team and got punched and kicked. St. Denis was hospitalized after the attack with a concussion, and six members of the basketball team were suspended, with Fisher's being the longest at eight games. The New York Times reported there were racial overtones to the fight, which Niagara's athletic director dismissed. Fisher's charges were eventually dismissed after community service and anger management counseling.

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich says since then Fisher has matured and become a leader in his final season with the team.

"What I am proud of is he has clearly been terrific on the floor, but he has been just as good off the floor," Mihalich says. "He's been a great leader. Watching film, in the locker room, on the bus, he is just a coach's dream. When he was a freshman, I didn't know if he was going to be a coach's dream by the time he was a senior, but he is."

Mihalich credits Rogers for Fisher's maturation. "If Charron ever gives me a hard time, and I can't resolve it, I make one phone call [to his mother] and everything is taken care of," Mihalich says. "She is an incredible mom. She is a very strong person."

Mihalich lets Fisher go in his wide-open offense, and Fisher doesn't hesitate to take advantage of the freedom. He is averaging 22 shots per game and has taken 39 percent of his team's shots, which is No. 1 in the nation according to kenpom.com. He is shooting 39.4 percent from the floor, a number that has NBA scouts a little leery about Fisher's prospects in the league.

"In six years on the road, I've never seen a guy have as much of a green light as this guy," one NBA Eastern Conference scout said.

Mihalich if quick to point out that if Fisher does not score, the Purple Eagles will have trouble winning. Fisher is averaging 29.5 points per game in wins, 24.4 in losses.

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Fisher is built like a linebacker, so much so that many schools, including Rutgers and Penn State, wanted to sign him to play football. Fisher says he never really liked football in high school, where he was a star linebacker and wide receiver.

"It was just something to stay in shape for basketball," he says.

Virginia offered him an opportunity to play both sports, where he could have played hoops with AAU teammate Sean Singletary. But Fisher didn't want the pressure of trying to balance two sports, and he felt like he fit in at Niagara after visiting the school and seeing their system. Now he has a chance to play in two NCAA tournaments if the Purple Eagles can win the MAAC tournament in Albany.

"We want to get a game against a good team and win one," Fisher said about a possible return trip. "Our guys are focused and we're really starting to lock down and get that hunger back that we need to win this league."

Anthony Grant's resume keeps getting better. The second-year VCU coach led his team to the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title for the second straight season with a 72-58 win over UNC-Wilmington on Wednesay. In the 10 seasons prior to Grant's arrival in Richmond, the Rams won one regular season title and averaged 9.8 league wins per year. Grant is 30-5 the past two years in league play with one game remaining. ... The winner of Saturday's Illinois State-Southern Illinois game will be in contention for an at-large berth with a solid Missouri Valley tournament performance. Illinois State's 68-54 win over Creighton gives the Redbirds (21-8, 12-5) five wins in their last six games and an RPI of 35. Southern Illinois (17-12, 11-6) beat Bradley on Tuesday and has won five straight to climb to No. 40. ... Look for Cornell (18-5, 10-0 Ivy) to be the first team to clinch an NCAA tournament berth. The Big Red need to beat Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday to clinch the Ivy's automatic bid with a week to go in the regular season. ... The West Coast Conference regular season title comes down to Saturday's St. Mary's-Gonzaga showdown in Spokane. St. Mary's won the first matchup 89-85.

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