Miller says former Clemson greats are an inspiration

by - Senior Writer -
Miller won the ACC Player of the Year Monday

CLEMSON – How hot is Clemson shortstop Brad MillerBrad Miller
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In his last 26 games of 2010, he was 44-for-105 (.419 average) with five homers, six doubles, two triples, 27 RBIs, 29 runs, a .657 slugging percentage, 13 walks, and a .479 on-base percentage.

In the 49 games he has played this season, Miller leads the ACC with a .431 batting average (72-for-167), 61 points higher than second place. Despite missing seven games with a broken finger, he has 21 stolen bases, tied for fourth in the ACC, and 18 of his 72 hits have been for extra bases.

In short, over his last 75 games he has hit for a .426 average (116-for-272), with 11 homers, 17 doubles, five triples, 71 RBI and 50 walks, which certainly ranks up there as one of the hottest streaks for any Clemson player of any era. Khalil Greene set records in 2002 that may never be broken - he hit an amazing .480 with 26 home runs and 30 doubles with a .557 on-base percentage and .888 slugging percentage (for an OPS of 1.445) in 67 games.

Miller was rewarded for that consistency Monday afternoon when he was announced as the ACC’s Player of the Year, and he told reporters that Greene was one of the reasons he came to Clemson.

“That is the reason I wanted to come to Clemson,” Miller said. “Watching Khalil Greene and players like him, and the tradition they have established here made Clemson a pretty special place. The seasons that they put up were amazing – they will never be touched. But I am excited to bring another award back to Clemson. It is an honor just to be recognized for that. It has been a long year with a lot of ups and downs, but I have kind of found a groove out there.”

Miller said that missing the games with his finger injury made him want to get back out on the field and help his team even more.

“A lot was going through my mind back then,” Miller said of watching games from the dugout. “I was ready to get back on the field with everyone. That’s the main thing - you can’t really control that injury. It can happen to you like it did to me. The biggest thing was, I was just excited, when I got healthy, to get back out there and play again. I didn’t take it for granted, and wanted to get back out there and hit the ground running.”

He said that staying aggressive and not giving away at-bats were the key.

“I was just trying to be aggressive,” he said. “That was my mindset coming back and I think it’s helped with everything, on the field, on the bases, just being aggressive and confident in myself. I feel really comfortable up there and I’m just trying to carry it over, not give away any at-bats, take one at-bat at a time. Focus on that, lock in and grind out at-bats. It’s a long season, and you’re going to have stretches where you’re feeling better than others, but you’ve really just got to take it one at-bat at a time and grind it out.”

Miller struggled with his defense last season, and he said those struggles have made him a better player.

“I’ve been through a lot,” he said. “Last year, it was going through some struggles; being able to put it together, make a run to Omaha. This year I’m trying to be more mature as a player, be more consistent every day, try and win some games. I feel I’ve definitely matured a lot being here. That’s the whole process of coming to college. You want to grow up on the field as well. I’m just having a lot of fun.”

The next step for Miller and Tigers is the ACC Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Durham, and he again mentioned Clemson’s tradition.

“We’re playing as a team,” Miller said. “We’re battling against all the teams of Clemson’s past. We want to live up to that tradition and carry it on, because we know they’ve started something special here. We have played really well in all cylinders of the game. But this team realizes there is work yet to be done. We still have the tournament, and we have to go prove to people we want to earn it this week.”

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