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Grizzled Veteran

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Tiff Terwelp admits she feels like a freshman some days as she adjusts to the demands of new Missouri State University women's basketball coach Nyla Milleson.

So imagine how the true freshmen must feel.

"They have to feel out of place," said Terwelp, the Lady Bears' 6-foot-2 senior center. "Since we're older, we understand plays quicker. All of the upperclassmen need to help the freshmen along."

It sounds odd for Terwelp to characterize herself as an upperclassman.

"It's gone so fast," said Terwelp, who is getting married in June and will finish her degree in education next fall. "It feels like this should just be my sophomore year in terms of time. I can't believe this is my senior year."

But it is, and high expectations come with it.

The Quincy High School product is the top returning rebounder in the Missouri Valley Conference, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game last season. Her presence in the post is undeniable, but Milleson's style isn't based around a lane-clogging center.

It's all about pressure, which means Terwelp and the Lady Bears better be ready to run.

"It's in-your-face all the time," Terwelp said. "It's all man-to-man all the time."

That suits Terwelp's athletic style.

"She's very physical for no bigger than she is," Milleson said. "We're trying to play a little bit more up-tempo and I think that will play into her abilities to be more productive numbers wise. She can run the floor, and she's very tough mentally and physically."

She can shoot beyond 10 feet, too.

The team's second-leading shooter as a junior hitting 44.4 percent, Terwelp has been limited to scoring from the block. She has attempted just four 3-pointers in her career, but Milleson has said she will allow Terwelp to step outside when the offense dictates it.

"I can do what I'm capable of doing," Terwelp said. "I've always been able to shoot the three. Now I have free reign to take that shot when it's there."

Her role, though, is still to rebound.

QHS's school record holder for career rebounds, Terwelp has pulled down 558 boards in her three-year Missouri State career, becoming just the 16th player in school history with 500 points and 500 rebounds in a career.

She needs just 90 rebounds and six blocked shots to become one of MSU's top 10 career leaders in both categories. She'll have a chance to finish among the top 20 scorers in school history as well.

"She's real deceiving in her strength and her abilities," Milleson said. "You look at her and think she's not very big and undersized. She surprises you. She'll push you around and fight for the ball."

And she'll fight for one last winning season.

"We really want to do well in the Valley and go to the NCAA Tournament," Terwelp said. "Last year was a little bit of a struggle. We want to change that."

The Lady Bears went 7-21 and and lost in the MVCTournament quarterfinals after winning the WNITpostseason championship Terwelp's freshman year and reaching the NCAATournament her sophomore season.

Milleson knows it's possible to get back to that level.

"I truly think we're going to be better," she said. "It's going to be how quickly we can grasp the concepts."

Terwelp is helping the Lady Bears grasp those relatively quick.

"She is providing us great leadership," Milleson said. "With a new coaching staff and new style, she has done a great job adjusting. As a senior, she wouldn't have to buy into what we're doing, but she's been very coachable. She's just a great person."

Contact Sports Writer Matt Schuckman


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