Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Updated: March 9, 5:50 PM ET
Q&A with Cheryl Miller
By Miki Turner Special to ESPN.com
Editor's note: As the NCAA celebrates its 25th season of women's basketball, ESPN and ESPN.com are counting down the top 25 moments of NCAA Tournament history. We haven't come to Cheryl Miller's leading USC to back-to-back NCAA titles yet, but in the meantime, Miki Turner caught up with the legend for some women's college hoops chitchat.
When the NCAA announced its 25th anniversary women's basketball team, there was no doubt that former USC great Cheryl Miller would be on it.
One of the players Cheryl Miller most wishes she had had a chance to play against? Ann Meyers.
During her collegiate career, Miller was a three-time Naismith Player of the Year, four-time All-American, two-time NCAA championship MVP, two-time NCAA champion and Wade Trophy winner. Additionally, she helped lead the United States to gold medals in the 1984 Olympics, the 1983 Pan American Games and the 1986 Goodwill Games.
In 1993, Miller returned to USC, coaching current WNBA stars Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson. Four years later, she was hired as coach of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.
Today, Miller, who still holds several USC records, is a TNT NBA analyst. She recently shared some of her thoughts on women's college basketball -- past and present -- with ESPN.com.
ESPN.com: How would you assess the growth of women's college hoops over the past 25 years?Miller: Oh, leaps and bounds. The women's basketball IQ has certainly grown. The women are faster, bigger and stronger. I think there are obviously more opportunities for women, whether it's getting a scholarship, playing in the WNBA, playing overseas or coaching. They can do just about anything.
ESPN.com: Who would be on your all-time list of favorite players?Miller: Now you're going to put me on the spot! I'd say, not necessarily in this order, but I loved playing against the twins -- Pam and Paula McGee. LaTaunya Pollard, Janice Lawrence, Kim Mulkey, Lynette Woodard, Anne Donovan. And I regret not being able to, because I was a little bit younger, play against Ann Meyers. As hard as she played, I would have loved to.
ESPN.com: What impact do you think you had on the game?Miller: I don't know. That's for you guys to decide. All I know is that I played the game hard with a little bit of flair. And maybe I introduced a more athletic style and being able to play all positions if I had to.
ESPN.com: What players from your era do you think had the most significant impact on the game?Miller: That's hard to say. I don't really know how to answer that question. I think we all did, to be honest. Everybody brought something unique. It was certainly a time of talented players, talented coaches. I think there's greater parity in women's basketball now. Who would have thought that Baylor would have won a national championship? Certainly not in the day when I played. It's just great to see how much the game has grown.
ESPN.com: What impact do you think someone like Diana Taurasi has had on the game?Miller: She's revolutionized that point guard spot. She's big, she can see the floor, and what I love about her is she'll take the big shot. She loves big games.
ESPN.com: Who would you say are perhaps the most legendary coaches of all time?Miller: Of all time? Now you're really going to get me in trouble! Gosh, definitely I'd put Pat Summitt in there. Geno Auriemma, Tara VanDerveer. I think Joan Bonvicini because she was back there. Marianne Stanley. Leon Barmore and Jody Conradt.
ESPN.com: Do you have five favorite personal memories of the tournament, including or excluding your own championship games?
Miller: They're all exciting. Obviously, my first two championships even my senior year when we lost to Texas. I thought that was a great game. Watching Connecticut and Rebecca Lobo and those guys go undefeated that season . That was a dream season. And watching Pat and Geno go head-to-head. And it was really refreshing to watch Sheryl Swoopes come out of what everybody thought was nowhere and win a championship for Texas Tech . There are so many it's hard to just give you five. There are lots and lots of memories.
Moment No. 18 will be unveiled Monday during ESPN2's Michigan State-Ohio State game.