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Published: Thursday, 3/18/2010

BGSU's Nurse taking care of future on, off court

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - When Tamika Nurse graduates from Bowling Green State University later this year, she will begin pursuing her career goals.

Nurse, an honors student majoring in journalism, is already talking about one day stepping into her dream job.

"To work for ESPN I think would be a dream job in a sports broadcasting world in any sense," she said.

But before Nurse commences with her career as a sportscaster, she's focusing her attention on an NCAA women's basketball tournament first-round game between No. 12 seed BG (27-6) and No. 5 seed Michigan State (22-9) on Saturday at Louisville's Freedom Hall.

Nurse, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, will be playing in her first NCAA tournament game after transferring in 2008 from the University of Oregon.

"I wanted to come to a program where I could help a team win," Nurse said. "BG was successful without me, and I'm glad I could be part of a season that was also successful in BG history.

"I transferred to win games and finally did it."

Nurse, a Hamilton, Ont., native, played a key role in the Falcons winning a sixth straight Mid-American conference regular season championship and collecting the MAC tournament championship for the fourth time in six seasons. After a year of being limited to only practicing with her teammates on the Anderson Arena court, Nurse has come through to average 10.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and a team-leading 3.3 assists per game as a starter in BG's three-guard backcourt that includes two-time MAC player of the year Lauren Prochaska and All-MAC performer Tracy Pontius.

Coach Curt Miller recruited Nurse five years ago when she was a top high school talent in Canada. She made an official recruiting visit to BG but opted to attend Oregon.

Miller was also familiar with Nurse because her aunt played at Syracuse University during a period when he served as an assistant coach.

The prior contact allowed Miller to consider bringing in a transfer student for only one year of eligibility.

"If it was a complete stranger, it would probably be a situation we wouldn't do," Miller said.

Of course, Nurse's skill set made her worth taking a chance on for one season. She held her own while playing in the Pac-10. She averaged 7.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in her junior year after producing 9.2 points and 2.0 rebounds as a sophomore at Oregon.

Miller said he made it clear with Nurse that she wasn't being brought in to carry the team on her shoulders after playing in a more competitive conference.

"She was told and learned during her year of residency that she didn't have to be the superstar and that this is a team not built around one superstar, but she had other good players around her " Miller said. "Both Lauren [Prochaska] and Tracy [Pontius] were coming off all-conference years and she was going to be joined by fellow senior Tara Breske, so she could take comfort in that she didn't have to be the superstar."

The Falcons coach believed Nurse could come in and fill a key role on the team.

"I wanted her ability to change the game with her speed, both at the offensive end and at the defensive end," he said. "We knew her speed was going to give us a different element. It really changes the game at both ends of the floor."

Nurse and Pontius have shared the responsibility this season of pushing the ball up the court whenever the Falcons are focused on playing up-tempo. Nurse is often asked to guard the opposition's top backcourt player.

The Ducks never finished higher than sixth place in the Pac-10 and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament during Nurse's three years at Oregon. She was hopeful that her experience at BG would be different.

"I had never won something on a grand scale or been part of something I felt was bigger than myself," Nurse said. "Coming to BG, it was like I had one year to kind of make my dreams come true - to play in the NCAA tournament, to help a team to be successful, and play for coaches that you respect. I had one year, 30 games to get it done."

Transferring has also given her an opportunity to play before some of her potential bosses in the broadcasting industry.

The game with the Spartans is scheduled to tip off at 12:11 p.m. on ESPN2.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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