For Georgia‚Äôs Khaalidah Miller, the memories of her first game as a Lady Bulldog aren‚Äôt sketchy ‚Äì she doesn‚Äôt recall any of the details of the team‚Äôs 58-43 victory over Georgia Southern, which isn‚Äôt surprising, considering it was four years and nearly 130 games ago.
But the Lady Bulldogs‚Äô lone senior remembers with excellent clarity her initial Southeastern Conference contest, a 61-51 win over South Carolina in January 2011.
‚ÄúI can‚Äôt remember my very first game, but I do remember my first SEC game,‚Äù Miller said. ‚ÄúIt was against South Carolina. I had jitters, I was nervous and excited. It was the first time I hit an almost half-court shot at the buzzer going into halftime. I won‚Äôt ever forget. And then I got SEC Freshman of the Week that week.‚Äù
For the record, Miller had six points and five rebounds in her collegiate debut against Georgia Southern and tallied 15 points and four rebounds in 31 minutes of play that day against the Gamecocks.
The 5-foot-9 Atlanta native will take the Stegeman Coliseum floor for perhaps the last time today as Georgia (18-10, 6-9 in the SEC) hosts Mississippi State (18-11, 5-10) in the Lady Bulldogs‚Äô regular-season finale. A starter in 101 of the 128 games she‚Äôs played in at Georgia, Miller said she‚Äôll approach today‚Äôs game like any other.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not really nervous,‚Äù Miller, whose team has compiled a 91-37 record during her tenure, said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve played here enough to not get nervous, regardless of the circumstances. I‚Äôm excited. It is my last home game here and I‚Äôm hoping we win and do well as a team.‚Äù
Before this season, Miller has met with few speed bumps in her career, primarily because she played alongside the likes of Jasmine James, Jasmine Hassell, Anne Marie Armstrong and Meredith Mitchell, among others.
In the last three years, Georgia has reached the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, but the 2013-14 campaign has been a different story as the young Lady Bulldogs have experienced growing pains while Miller worked for the first time at point guard.
‚ÄúOverall, she‚Äôs handled it very well,‚Äù Georgia coach Andy Landers said of Miller taking on the role at the point. ‚ÄúIt wasn‚Äôt something she dreamed up and it wasn‚Äôt something that I dreamed up. It was something that circumstances required that we give it the try that we did and I think she‚Äôs made the most of it and she‚Äôs done it as well as she can do it. She never complained about it and it‚Äôs been real challenge for her. Every day she comes out here and straps it on and gets it done.‚Äù
Miller, who is the No. 22 scorer in Georgia program history and is averaging 10.8 points per game this season, admits she‚Äôs disappointed the season hasn‚Äôt played out in Hollywood fashion but adds she‚Äôs never had a second thought about coming to Athens.
‚ÄúI wouldn‚Äôt change my decision to come here for anything,‚Äù she said. ‚ÄúObviously this has not been the season I wanted to have, but at the same time, it‚Äôs not over yet. I‚Äôve played with a great group of girls throughout my career and I think this group is going to do really well next year, seeing as now they all have experience. ‚Ä¶ No regrets.‚ÄùThe former Douglass High standout will be remembered by the Georgia faithful as a steady scorer and by the team as delightful wit.‚ÄúWhen people reflect back, people will remember her as being a player who scored some key baskets for us in some big wins and played very well for us in some big wins,‚Äù Landers said. ‚ÄúShe‚Äôs been a key component and a starter for us for four years — that‚Äôs an elite group of players that is able to say, ‚ÄòI started for Georgia for four years.‚Äô‚Äù
‚ÄúThe one thing that sticks out about Khaalidah is her personality,‚Äù sophomore Marjorie Butler added. ‚ÄúShe always knows how to lighten the tone and she‚Äôs the type of person who always knows how to make you smile. That‚Äôs something she‚Äôs done for the program and her teammates.‚Äú
People always have a legacy on a program, and character and leadership have a lot to do with that. I know last year, the seniors left a legacy and then someone before them left a legacy and that‚Äôs what creates a program. That‚Äôs what created Georgia basketball. I think she‚Äôs definitely left a legacy of working hard and going out there and doing what‚Äôs asked of her.‚Äù