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Mirror, Mirror
Franz Lidz
November 15, 1999
Who has the fairest backcourt of all? Georgia, whose identical twin guards, Coco and Kelly Miller, are double trouble for opponents
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November 15, 1999

Mirror, Mirror

Who has the fairest backcourt of all? Georgia, whose identical twin guards, Coco and Kelly Miller, are double trouble for opponents

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Not quite. Both skitter around the court like a pebble skimmed over water, but Coco, on the wing, is a more mobile shot maker who stops and pops with her elbows squarely under the ball. The calculating Kelly is a playmaker who waits for the action to come to her and extends her arms when she shoots. Less tenacious than her sister, Kelly dishes more deftly and doesn't wilt in tournament heat. At last season's NCAAs she was named MVP of the Mideast Regionals after almost single-handedly beating Iowa State in the final. She buried her first seven shots against the Cyclones' 2-3 zone, hit six three-pointers, had a career-high 33 points and stifled Stacy Frese, the top long-distance gunner in the country.

In the previous game—a 67-54 victory over Clemson—Coco had gone loco. Held scoreless for the first 14 minutes, she sat next to Landers for the next six. She fared no better in the second half and was yanked after only three minutes and soon thereafter moved from Landers's side to the end of the bench. Kelly's 22-point scoring jag was nearly eclipsed by Coco's crying jag on the pine. "People still think I banished Coco there," says Landers. "The truth is I realized we were going to win, and I told her, 'The cameras are coming over to me more and more, and the way you look, I don't think you want to be on television. Why not move to the other end of the bench.' "

She did, but the cameras trained on her anyway. "Coco plays so hard and is so hard on herself," says her mother, Kathy, a retired kindergarten teacher. "Ever since she and Kelly were little, they've always given 150 percent."

As infants the twins were literally double dribblers. When they were three, Marv Miller, their gym teacher father, gave them a basketball the size of a small pumpkin. They aimed at the 10-foot basket in the driveway, and Marv swears they sank a few. We'll never know for sure. The sisters have never kept score. "We play one-on-one just to play," says Kelly. "There's no sibling rivalry."

Before long the Millers became Minnesota's most popular twin act since Kirby Puckett. They were 12 when Landers spied them at an AAU tournament. "Some youngsters that age were taller or more talented," he says, "but none were more serious, more determined, busier. Everyone was moving at 50 miles an hour. They were going 60, maybe 70."

Three national AAU and two state high school titles later, they went to Georgia. All of Landers's starters were graduating. "We figured we'd get plenty of game time," says Kelly. They were right. The Bulldogs, who were hobbled by injuries, illness and academic problems, began the 1997-98 season with only six scholarship players—four of them freshmen. In the first three games the Millers played all but one minute. "They'd get so worn out, their pupils would roll back in their heads," Landers says. "I'd call timeouts just to give players time to catch their breath."

Desperate, Landers advertised in the campus newspaper for walk-ons. "A 43-year-old woman called," he says. "I asked if she was in college, and she said, 'No, I just want to play.' "

Kelly and Coco did too, sometimes to the exclusion of the other Bulldogs. "They tended to pass the ball to each other, and opponents started adjusting accordingly," Landers says. "I didn't discourage them as much as I encouraged them to see the whole floor."

The Millers are so tight that before last summer they'd never spent a night apart. "Being away from Coco was hard," Kelly says of the three-day hoops clinic she attended in Indiana. "I got lonesome."

"Yeah," echoes Coco, "lonesome."

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