Rucker uses basketball experiences to get off and running at new job

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When Matt Rucker starts talking about his new job, you almost think he’s talking about his former job.

A few weeks ago Rucker was hired by Chesapeake Energy, the same company he interned with the last two summers.

Rucker has a degree in Petroleum Engineering from Marietta College where he played basketball the past four years.

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The 6-foot-8 former Pioneers’ center sees a lot of similarities between his new job and playing basketball.

“Most obvious thing is team work. You work with group of individuals to gain a common goal. I’m on a floor with 30 other individual and all of us are working for same kind of project. You have to adapt,” said Rucker.

Teamwork is something Rucker learned extensively while playing for the Chesapeake Panthers under former head coach Norm Persin, now at Oak Hill.

Rucker’s statistics echo that team-style of play. Last season at Marietta he played in all 25 game and led the team in obvious statistics such as rebounding (5.8) and blocked shots (1.2), but he also led the team in assists (1.6) while averaging 8.9 points a game.

“That’s something I carried over from playing at Chesapeake. Coach Persin always stressed teamwork and sharing the ball. You could look at the stat line every game for three years and they were pretty equal among everyone,” Rucker said.

Rucker was in double figures 10 times and shot a .535 percentage from the field. He has a season-high 22 points against Bridgewater (Va.) and yanked down a career-best 12 rebounds against Bethany (W.Va.).

He was named the Case Western Alumni Tournament MVP as he averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds.

Rucker enjoyed two special honors his senior season although one was a carry over from his junior season when he was named co-captain of the team.

“I was named captain my junior year with another junior. There were no seniors on the team. I figured I’d be one of the juniors considered,” said Rucker.

“I was pretty excited to get that, but there was a lot on my shoulders. We had a lot of young guys coming in and only four upperclassmen. It was exciting and fun to be part of that.”

But Rucker was most proud of being named to the Ohio Athletic Conference All-Academic team his senior year.

“Making the academic All-Ohio team my senior year was probably my favorite (honor),” said Rucker. “Obviously, if you go to a Division III college your first priority is to get an education.

“Playing basketball and bringing the two things together makes it a pretty good honor and made me feel pretty good about myself.”

Still, Rucker wasn’t trying to discredit the caliber of competition at the Division III level.

“It was a lot different than high school even at the Division III level. I didn’t know what to expect. Everybody is a lot bigger and faster than high school so it took a little while to get used to it my freshman year,” said Rucker.

“We had a guy in the OAC who was a two-time player of the year. He’s four inches away from being a Division I player.”

Matt Rucker is a team player even when it comes to an entire conference.