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November 5, 2012

North Andover's Miller looking to help Merrimack more as sophomore

Young Warriors open season at home Thursday

Merrimack second-year coach Monique LeBlanc hasn’t gone easy on Melissa Miller of North Andover so far this year.

“If there’s one player that I’ve just really ridden from day one of this preseason until now it would be her,” LeBlanc said. “As I keep telling her, that’s because I see a lot in her. And I expect a lot from her and we need a lot from her.

”She’s obviously a very good player,” LeBlanc added. “She had a very good high school career at Central (Catholic). And when I see these moments from her, I want them all the time.”

Merrimack women’s basketball opens its season against Fisher College at 7 p.m. Thursday at home.

Miller, a 6-foot sophomore forward, should receive more playing off the bench this year after a tough freshman season in which she played in just 12 games because of mononucleosis, which she was diagnosed around midseason.

”I’ve really been pushing her in this preseason to squeeze more out of her,” LeBlanc said. “I expect her to give us a good scoring spark as well as a big rebounding presence because I think those are her two most natural areas.”

LeBlanc also has been working hard to make Miller a better defensive player.

”I think that she just doesn’t give herself enough credit for what she can do defensively,” LeBlanc said. “But I think she’s got good speed and she doesn’t mind playing physical so I think she’s going to turn into a good defender for us as well.”

Miller and LeBlanc have established a strong relationship.

”She’s definitely been really tough on me,” Miller said. “We talk about it. I don’t take it personally. I take it as a compliment that ... she knows how much potential I have and how far I can go. And we’ve had numerous talks about that.”

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