Head Coach Nyla Milleson Earns Her 100th Win at Missouri State
Free fan celebration starts at 2:30 p.m. with free food and entertainment
Free fan celebration starts at 4:30 p.m. with free food and entertainment
Free fan celebration starts at 4:30 p.m. with free food and entertainment
Coach Milleson Previews Senior Night Game vs. Wichita
Coach Milleson Previews Final Road Trip of the Season
Lady Bears vs. Evansville Postgame Press Conference - Coach Milleson
Lady Bears vs. Southern Illinois Postgame Press Conference - Coach Milleson
Coach Milleson Previews SIU Game
Nyla Milleson enters her sixth season as the head Lady Bear after returning Missouri State back to the top of the Missouri Valley Conference in year five. Milleson, who enters the 2012-13 season 276-106 (.723) overall as a collegiate head coach, is 91-70 (.565) at MSU to rank second all-time among Lady Bear mentors for total victories through five seasons.
Milleson was named the sixth head coach in the history of the Missouri State women's basketball program on April 9, 2007, after a remarkable seven-year run as head coach at Drury University. "We are fortunate to have found a coach that excels in all dimensions of the job," said former MSU president Dr. Michael Nietzel. "Coach Milleson has a tremendous record, her teams have a history of high academic performance, she has a great appreciation for the Lady Bear program's history and high expectations, and she knows and loves Springfield."
Milleson connected instantly with the Lady Bear faithful, rekindling the fire of one of the most loyal fan bases in women's college basketball during a solid 2007-08 season that saw MSU finish .500 (9-9) in MVC play -- good for fifth in the league race -- for the first time in three years. After watching her squad drop 11 of its first 13 contests, Milleson and her staff engineered a remarkable turnaround that saw the Lady Bears win seven of their next 11 games and nine of their last 16 conference outings. Under Milleson's guidance, four Lady Bears earned Valley postseason honors, including senior guard Tahnee Balerio, who was a second-team all-conference selection, and Maggie Dwyer, who was tabbed the league's newcomer of the year after leading MSU in scoring, as well as finishing second on the squad in assists and third in rebounding.
No stranger to the tradition of excellence that was a hallmark of the Missouri State program for much of the past two decades, Milleson immediately set her sights on recognizing and celebrating the Lady Bears' storied past as a means of building toward the future. Missouri State welcomed back dozens of former players, coaches and support staffers for a reunion of MSU's two Final Four squads from 1992 and 2001 at its Dec. 7 contest against Saint Louis, then brought the curtains down at Hammons Student Center with a memorable 79-73 victory over Creighton on March 8, as over 50 former Lady Bears came home one more time before the move to JQH Arena in 2008-09.
Despite a 10-20 finish, the Lady Bears 2008-09 season provided plenty of reasons to be optimistic, including the collective performance of a talented and deep freshman class that accounted for more than two-thirds of MSU's offense while totaling 99 starts. Under Milleson's tutelage, Garrison became just the fifth MSU freshman to earn first-team All-MVC distinction, while another Lady Bear rookie, Jaleshia Roberson, joined her teammate on the Valley's all-freshman squad. The 2008-09 season also saw Milleson notch a personal milestone when she recorded her 200th career victory at the collegiate level with the Lady Bears' 77-68 win over Chattanooga (Dec. 20) at the Caribbean Classic in Cancun, Mexico.
A native of Goodland, Kan., Milleson embarked on her third coaching assignment in the city of Springfield with her acceptance of the Missouri State job. The head coach at Springfield Glendale High School from 1992-99, she moved to Drury and spent the 1999-00 school year putting the building blocks in place for Drury's first-ever women's team.
What happened over the next seven seasons is the stuff of story books. Chalking up a gaudy .837 winning percentage, her scratch-built program claimed six conference titles and made five multiple-round appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament, finishing as national runner-up in 2003-04. Drury had the top winning percentage among all Division II programs in the nation over Milleson's last four years at the school, and her 185-36 record in seven Drury seasons resulted in an average of 26.4 wins a year.
In 2006-07, Drury had a 14-5 regular season mark in conference play to win the GLVC West Division and knocked off Kentucky Wesleyan and Northern Kentucky in the first two rounds of the conference tournament before bowing to East Division champ Lewis in the tourney finals. Drury then drew an NCAA at-large bid, and, in the regional tournament at Lewis, beat SIU-Edwardsville in the first round before returning the favor against Lewis with a 67-62 win on the Flyers' home court. That win moved Drury into the Sweet 16 where the Lady Panthers upended Ferris State before a loss to Southern Connecticut State in the Division II national quarterfinals capped a 25-9 campaign.
The Lady Panthers, also among the top 12 schools in Division II average home attendance in each of Milleson's seven seasons, claimed Heartland Conference titles four of the five seasons Drury competed in that league before the Lady Panthers joined the potent Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2005-06. Drury became the first team to go undefeated in GLVC history with a 19-0 mark in 2005-06 and the Lady Panthers' 30-3 season record included a trip to the Division II Sweet 16.
Drury caught the fancy of basketball-happy southwest Missouri in the Lady Panthers' inaugural season that featured a 20-6 record and a Heartland title. Drury finished second in the Heartland in 2001-02 in an overall 18-9 season and then won 33 of 34 conference games over the next three seasons in chalking up three more league championships. The 2003 Lady Panthers were 27-5 and got to the Division II third round and the 2003-04 ballclub put together a 36-2 season record in which Drury got all the way to the national title game in St. Joseph, Mo. The Lady Panthers won their first three tournament games, knocked off Seattle Pacific in the national quarterfinals, downed Henderson State in the semifinal contest and dropped a 75-72 decision to California (Pa.) for the Division II title.
Drury went 29-2 in 2004-05 and was again an NCAA automatic qualifier, but lost in the second round of the Division II tournament. Milleson was named Region 6 Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association in both 2005 and 2006. She was Heartland Conference Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2004.
Under Milleson, the Lady Panthers' on-court success was mirrored by exceptional classroom work. The team was ranked among the top 10 Division II women's basketball programs in cumulative team grade point average in six of Milleson's seven years as head coach, finishing first in both 2004 and 2005, and second in 2006.
Milleson's production of six 20-win teams in seven seasons at Drury came after she had guided the Springfield (Mo.) Glendale High Lady Falcons to six 20-win seasons in seven years at GHS, for an overall mark of 158-39 in that tenure. A two-time WBCA High School Coach of the Year nominee, she took her teams to four conference titles and three district championships with top 10 state rankings every year. The Lady Falcons collected a Missouri Class 4A state title in 1996 with a 27-3 record which earned Milleson selection as MBCA and Associated Press Missouri Coach of the Year. Glendale was 27-4 and took third in the state in 1997 and reached the state round of 16 in 1998.
Milleson moved to Glendale in 1992 after three seasons as head coach at Junction City (Kan.) High. She took over a struggling program with a 3-18 record her first year, moved to 8-14 her second season and won 19 of 25 games her third year with a ballclub that finished third in the Kansas Class 6A state tournament.
The valedictorian of her high school class at Goodland, she competed in basketball and volleyball at Seward County (Kan.) Community College, then moved on to Kansas State, where she completed her undergraduate degree in 1985. Milleson received her master's degree in educational administration from K-State in 1989 as a magna cum laude graduate. Milleson competed in basketball, volleyball and track in high school and was captain of the rodeo team during her two years at Kansas State.
Milleson and her husband, Brent, have two sons, Barrett and Caylor.