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BG’s Nate Miller more focused on team wins than individual records

After reaching the rebound and steal milestones earlier in his senior season, Miller entered BG’s most recent game against Canisius just 11 points shy of joining the exclusive club. ‘Nate has always had that kind of ability,’ head coach Louis Orr said. Possibly the most impressive and perhaps disappointing fact about Miller’s career numbers is that he only had three years in BG to acquire them. Miller graduated from Springfield South High School in 2005 after compiling 1,300 career points and collecting numerous honors from First-Team All-Conference to Third Team All-Ohio. Following his high school career, Miller spent the fall semester of his freshman year at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he appeared in nine games and averaged just 2.0 points and 2.3 rebounds. Following his first semester with the Seahawks, Miller bolted back to Ohio, and in January of 2006, enrolled at BG. Miller was on the court with the Falcons at the start of the 2006-07 season and immediately regained his high school form. As a sophomore Miller averaged 14.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, each of which are likely to end up as his career highs. Miller also flashed his abilities as a big game performer that year when he recorded a 16 point, 11 rebound double-double in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The 2007-08 season saw Miller take on a new role for BG. In a year in which there were no seniors on the team, Miller stepped up for the Falcons, leading them offensively by averaging 13.2 points. More importantly, he helped lead BG to an improved MAC record of 7-9, up from 3-13 the previous season. ‘The biggest, most important stat for Nate is the win,’ Orr said. This season, Miller has transformed into the unquestioned leader of a 15-11 (8-4 MAC) team that is having one of their best seasons in years.

Midway through his senior season Miller stepped up in a big way. He became the unquestioned leader in the eyes of young players like freshmen Scott Thomas and Dee Brown and has led BG in most statistical categories on a nightly basis. ‘I’m going to play confident. It doesn’t matter whether I’m making shots or not,’ Miller said. ‘I want to win.’ Leading up to the game against Canisius, Miller was averaging 12.3 points and 6.6 rebounds on the year. His leadership has the Falcons in a four way tie for second place in the MAC East, behind only Buffalo, a team they swept their season series with. So he entered the Canisius game in search of 11 points and a win. In a game in which BG played with only nine players, only two of which qualify as big men (Marc Larson and Chris Knight both missed the game due to injuries), BG fell in overtime 71-66. Miller however, still put on a heroic performance. His 1,000th career point couldn’t have been much more anticlimactic. In the middle of the second half he drove to the basket and got an off balance lay up to fall. The game didn’t stop and there were only some 20 fans who seemed aware of his accomplishment. Miller didn’t seem to care either, because he had a game to win. So Miller pulled off one of the best late game performances the BG program has seen in years. He scored a slew of points late in the game, and after the Falcons had fallen behind by six points with under a minute to play, led a comeback that was capped off with him nailing a three point shot to send the game into overtime. ‘We had no answer for him,’ Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said. ‘He torched us.’ In the overtime period Miller scored all four of BG’s points, but a lack of size inside ultimately led to the Falcons’ demise. Miller finished the game with 22 points and 13 rebounds, another double-double. His 22 points were a career high for a single game. In the post game press conference Miller was asked about his accomplishment. He simply shrugged it off, mumbled ‘it’s an honor’ and went on to talk about how disappointed he was with the loss. BG is now down to their final four games of the regular season. Miller will continue to lead the team into March, where they’ll be looking for their first MAC Tournament victory since the 2004-05 season, and their first regular season MAC Championship since the 1999-00 season. However the next month turns out, Miller will leave BG with a legacy as both a great player and a leader. He became the newest member of an elite club that previously had only three members, all of which spent four seasons playing for the Falcons. Miller got there in only three. Although his career record, which currently sits at 41-46, might end up below .500, he may never even win a MAC Tournament game and he’s never had his number 20 jersey sold at games, Miller will be missed by the BG faithful. Miller, by most forms of measurement, will go down as one of the best players in the history of the BG program.

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