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February 1, 2003

Retriever of the Month

By David Gansell, UMBC Athletics

Millette Green's collegiate career hasn't exactly been all milk and cookies.

The Retrievers' senior forward has played at two different universities and has been tutored by four different head coaches. She has suffered through a painful shoulder injury, been hobbled by a stress fracture in her foot and has endured a long rehabilitation period following a difficult wrist surgery this past summer.

"I believe that everything happens for a reason," says the Chesapeake, Virginia native. "All of my struggles will be worth it if we go to the NCAA Tournament."

After a coaching change at East Carolina, Green decided to bolt from the Greenville, North Carolina campus and transfer to UMBC following the 1999-2000 season. She was heavily recruited by the Retrievers' previous coaching staff when she was a prep star at Western Branch High School, where she enjoyed a standout career that landed her a spot on Street & Smith's magazine's honorable mention All-American Team as a senior.

Green made her Retrievers' debut last season after red-shirting the 2000-2001 campaign and struggled in the offense. "I never felt comfortable last season," Green admits. "I played the center position and I was unhappy about playing with my back-to-the-basket, on the block all the time. I feel like my greatest strength is my ability to face the basket and drive to the hole."

Fast-forward a season and Green is now being given an opportunity to do what she feels she does best in first-year Head Coach Phil Stern's Princeton-style offense. After converting back to a more natural forward spot, she is beginning to use her strength and quickness to her advantage, and is becoming much more of an offensive threat. These days, Green is one of the most feared slashers in the Northeast Conference and has added an elusive spin-move to her repertoire, which allows her to drive by defenders with regularity.

After a bit of a slow start in the first five games of the season, Green averaged 10.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game over the Retrievers next seven contests. She leads the team in free-throw attempts, a direct correlation to her ability to muscle her way to the bucket. "It took some time for me to feel confident with my role in the new offense, but I feel like I have much more of an understanding now. The coaching staff told me to be more aggressive, so that is what I have tried to do," she says.

Green began her stretch of good play at home against NEC rival Mount St. Mary's on December 14, when she tied a career-high with 15 points and snatched 9 rebounds. She followed the solid performance with another one at Maryland on December 21, posting 15 points, 8 rebounds and a career-best 3 blocks.

Coach Stern is excited about Green's good play of late and considers her a team-leader. "As a senior, we expect to be able to count on "Mill" each and every night," Stern says. "She was unable to play all summer because of her wrist injury, and I think that hurt her a bit. She is just starting to hit her stride and I believe that she will get better and better as the season goes along."

Green maintains that she leads by example, but claims that she will speak up if she feels the need. "I am definitely not afraid to voice my opinion. I believe that my teammates feed off my energy and I respond to theirs as well." One such opportunity came in the locker room following the Retrievers 56-38 loss at Maryland.

"Millette pleaded with the team to stay together and not go off in separate directions," senior guard Jessie Brown says. "Mill usually doesn't say a lot, but when she blocks a shot or makes a basket and has a chance for a three-point play, she goes crazy, and that fires us all up."

Green, who will attempt to gain an MBA and become an entrepreneur following her career at UMBC, and perhaps play oversees, feels that the women's basketball program is in great hands with Stern at the helm. "Coach Stern is going to win because he simply will not accept losing," she says. "Right now, we are struggling, but we feel like we will turn things around."

If they do, a large glass of milk and a box of Mrs. Fields' Oatmeal Cookies could be in order for Green. Her favorite brand.

Click here for more information on women's basketball.

Posted by dwinds1 at February 1, 2003 12:00 AM