For Georgia’s Khaalidah Miller, the memories of her first game as a Lady Bulldog aren’t sketchy – she doesn’t recall any of the details of the team’s 58-43 victory over Georgia Southern, which isn’t surprising, considering it was four years and nearly 130 games ago.
But the Lady Bulldogs’ lone senior remembers with excellent clarity her initial Southeastern Conference contest, a 61-51 win over South Carolina in January 2011.
“I can’t remember my very first game, but I do remember my first SEC game,” Miller said. “It 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’t ever forget. And then I got SEC Freshman of the Week that week.”
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’ regular-season finale. A starter in 101 of the 128 games she’s played in at Georgia, Miller said she’ll approach today’s game like any other.
“I’m not really nervous,” Miller, whose team has compiled a 91-37 record during her tenure, said. “I’ve played here enough to not get nervous, regardless of the circumstances. I’m excited. It is my last home game here and I’m hoping we win and do well as a team.”
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.
“Overall, she’s handled it very well,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said of Miller taking on the role at the point. “It wasn’t something she dreamed up and it wasn’t something that I dreamed up. It was something that circumstances required that we give it the try that we did and I think she’s made the most of it and she’s done it as well as she can do it. She never complained about it and it’s been real challenge for her. Every day she comes out here and straps it on and gets it done.”
Miller, who is the No. 22 scorer in Georgia program history and is averaging 10.8 points per game this season, admits she’s disappointed the season hasn’t played out in Hollywood fashion but adds she’s never had a second thought about coming to Athens.
“I wouldn’t change my decision to come here for anything,” she said. “Obviously this has not been the season I wanted to have, but at the same time, it’s not over yet. I’ve 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. … No regrets.”The former Douglass High standout will be remembered by the Georgia faithful as a steady scorer and by the team as delightful wit.“When 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,” Landers said. “She’s been a key component and a starter for us for four years — that’s an elite group of players that is able to say, ‘I started for Georgia for four years.’”
“The one thing that sticks out about Khaalidah is her personality,” sophomore Marjorie Butler added. “She always knows how to lighten the tone and she’s the type of person who always knows how to make you smile. That’s something she’s done for the program and her teammates.“
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’s what creates a program. That’s what created Georgia basketball. I think she’s definitely left a legacy of working hard and going out there and doing what’s asked of her.”