Monday, March 22, 1999

WOMEN'S MIDEAST NOTEBOOK


Georgia depends on twins

        Kelly and Coco Miller are identical and inseparable.

        The twins are teammates for the Georgia Bulldogs. Coco leads the team in scoring with 18.5 points per game, but Kelly, Coco's elder by four minutes, is less than half a point behind. The sophomore guards became the first sisters ever named to the All-SEC first team, and they've been named to several different All-America teams this year.

        The Rochester, Minn., natives never entertained thoughts about playing without each other after high school. The sophomores have each scored more than 1,000 points at Georgia, both breaking the barrier 57 games into their tenure. They have swapped the role as the team's leading scorer five times this season.

        Coach Andy Landers was able to distinguish the two rather quickly. “It didn't take long to figure out they have different styles of play,” he said. “Kelly is calculated, while Coco likes to attack.”

        To their teammates and coaches, the Millers bring a lot more to the team than their talent. “They're going to come out with fire in their eyes, and that's definitely carried over to the rest of us,” classmate Kiesha Brown said.

        Outsiders still struggle to determine who is who, but that's not the case for the team. “The biggest challenge is knowing who's who when you're on the telephone,” Landers said.

Added Desiree
        Going into the Mideast Regional, cognoscenti were familiar with the wizardry and toughness of Iowa State point guard Stacy Frese, the versatility and leadership of Megan Taylor and the ability of post player Monica Huelman to slide outside to hit the three-pointer.

        But a pleasant surprise in Saturday's upset of UConn was the slashing and take-it-to-the-hole quickness of Desiree Francis.

        “Dez is the type of player who sometimes even we aren't sure of what she's going to do out there,” Frese said. “You can tell when she's "there.' That's when you want to get the ball to her as much as possible, in the lane, especially.”

        And if Georgia thinks Francis is only a slasher, well, go ahead and give the 6-foot junior forward a cushion on the perimeter.

        “She can shoot the three,” Frese said. “Hopefully, she'll be more ready for that (tonight). She was kind of hesitating on her outside shot Saturday and we've been getting after her a little bit to give her more confidence. The three makes her more deadly. And, I don't think a lot of post players are ready for her to drive around them like she can.”

Coaching counts
        Iowa State has come a long way in the past four seasons, and that success has coincided with coach Bill Fennelly's arrival.

        Fennelly, who grew up in Davenport, Iowa, came to the Cyclones after seven seasons at Toledo. He joined a Cyclone program that had never been to the NCAA Tournament and hadn't posted a winning record since the 1989-90 season.

        He knew it was a risky move to make. “If it doesn't work, I'll work at my brother's bar,” Fennelly reasoned at the time.

        It has worked out well. The Cyclones are in their third consecutive NCAA Tournament after recording their second straight 25-win season.

        Fennelly won vindication for some of his former Toledo players when his Cyclones upset Connecticut on Saturday. His Rockets lost an 81-80 game at UConn in the second round of the 1991 tournament. Fennelly said several members of that Toledo team were in attendance on Saturday.

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