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Miller ready to step up big

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2008 12:09

It seems as though the only thing that can stop Nalini Miller is a leg injury.

Miller, a senior center, has been on a tear the last four games, averaging more than 17 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Miller realizes this is her last season and it's time to put her best effort on the floor every night. That is the motivation behind her improvement on the floor in conference play.

"I'm a senior and this is my last year, so I have to go out with a bang," Miller said. "I have to come out ready to play 40 minutes, and I have to play for coach and my teammates."

Miller left the Georgetown game late in the first half with a slight limp and sat out the rest of the time. She has a strained left hip flexor, but she should be ready Saturday when the Bulls host St. John's.

Miller has become a force in the post for the women's basketball team and a leader on and off the court. Miller's emergence on the offensive side of the floor has taken a lot of pressure off senior guard Jessica Dickson.

"I think Nalini's play is taking the pressure off of all of us and is giving us a third option on offense," Dickson said. "She has established herself as a post presence, and I think we needed that."

Coming into the season, Miller knew she would have slack to pick up with the departure of Ezria Parsons. With little help in the post, Miller has become the main option for points in the paint.

Miller learned many lessons from Parsons, especially that her offensive game will show up if she concentrates on playing defense. Despite the rhythm of the game, Miller goes for rebounds, plays defense and doesn't worry about her offensive game.

"With Ezria, she just went and got the ball and her game just came to her," Miller said. "So I just go and get all the rebounds, and the offense will come and it came to me. I just try to be patient, play my game and play within myself."

Miller's recent hot streak began in an overtime victory against Notre Dame when she scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Since that win, Miller has recorded two double-doubles in victories over No.19 Louisville and Syracuse.

Her leadership on the floor has been a big part of ChiChi Okpaleke and Stephanie Sarosi's improvement. The extra attention paid to Miller in the post has opened up scoring opportunities for Okpaleke and Sarosi.

"Now that teams are looking for her to score, she notices it and is passing the ball more" Okpaleke said. "Her presence on the floor has been big for us and is opening up the floor more for us."

Miller has shaken off the reputation that she is soft and can't finish a rebound by demanding the ball more. Last season, she was known more for her missed layups than her play in the paint.

Miller was aware of what people were saying and made it a point to prove all of her critics wrong. So far in conference play, the only people complaining about Miller's play are opposing coaches.

"She's been playing so well, and she's such a big inside presence," coach Jose Fernandez said. "She rebounds, she gives us second and third opportunities, and she is playing with a lot of intensity and wants to finish her college career on a good note."

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