Until recently, UNLV sophomore center Aley Rohde had no doubt about what profession she wanted to pursue.
Since she was little, Rohde had aspired to become a prosecutor, but about a month ago she began to question that goal.
“I’m up in the air,” she said. “I really want a big family, and law requires a lot of your time.
“I’m still considering going to law school. Even if I chose not to be a prosecutor, I could still be a multitude of other things.”
Based on the way she’s played recently for the Lady Rebels, Rohde might want to consider becoming a defense attorney.
The 6-foot-5-inch transfer from Arizona leads UNLV in rebounds (8.1 per game) and blocked shots (1.4 per game). She pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds and had two blocks in a 57-49 victory over rival UNR on Wednesday in Reno.
“I never was confident defensively, but now that’s where I have my (most) confidence,” said Rohde, who sat out last season as a transfer. “I like playing defense, but I hated it before. My focus is so much more on defense than on offense.
“I finally understand that if you play defense as hard as you can, your offense is going to come.”
UNLV (5-10, 2-1 Mountain West) is riding its first winning streak of the season after consecutive Mountain West victories at Air Force and UNR. The Lady Rebels host league foes New Mexico on Wednesday and San Diego State on Saturday, both at 7 p.m. at Cox Pavilion.
Rohde had 11 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the 72-65 victory over Air Force on Jan. 4, then helped UNLV limit UNR to 25 points below its season average.
“Aley clogs up that middle and does very good defensively,” UNLV coach Kathy Olivier said. “We’ve been jelling defensively.”
After a slow start this season that included a broken nose and a concussion, Rohde is rounding into the form she displayed as a freshman starter at Arizona, where she averaged 7.6 points, 6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks during the 2011-12 season.
“It took a while for me to get back into my groove, so it’s fun,” Rohde said. “I’m finally feeling like my old self again and we’re finally starting to figure it out.”
UNLV has been competitive in most of its games, suffering only one defeat by more than 10 points, and Rohde has helped the team stay positive.
“Players haven’t gotten down, and Aley’s a big reason for that,” Olivier said. “She’s been working extremely hard. She’s been very aggressive on the boards. She doesn’t stop.”
While many people already have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions, Rohde has thus far made good on her pledge.
“(Olivier) told us to give her our New Year’s resolutions. Mine was to be a more explosive rebounder,” Rohde said. “I had 10 a game, but I feel like I can give us 15.”
A four-time all-state player and four-time state runner-up for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Rohde was ranked the nation’s No. 36 prospect by ESPN HoopGurlz in 2011.
She said she transferred to UNLV — one of her top three schools during her prep recruitment — because of the family atmosphere on the team.
“I knew I had such a good relationship with the coaches here,” Rohde said. “I’m all about close-knit relationships. I need that and I knew I would have that here.”
Rohde is extremely close with her parents, sister and brother, Taylor — who played college basketball for Arizona State and Alaska-Anchorage and now plays professionally in Germany.
Aley said battling her 6-9 older brother on the hardwood in high school helped mold her into the player she is today.
“It made me a lot tougher,” she said. “He never took it easy on me.”
When it comes to academics, Aley has a big edge on her brother, whose motto was “C’s get degrees.”
“I wasn’t allowed a B,” said Rohde, who is on track to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice after only three years of college.
Still unsure whether she’ll enter law school in the fall or pursue a master’s degree, Rohde could always chase her other childhood dream: to become an NFL cheerleader.
“I’m still working for that one,” she said. “I have to get my toe touch.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.