They call her “B.”
As a young child, IU senior forward Amanda Cahill would introduce herself as “Amanda B. Cahill,” short for her full name of Amanda Brooke Cahill.
Eventually, the nickname would be shortened to simply “B,” and after the moniker was adopted by her family and people in her hometown of Clyde, Ohio, it followed her to Bloomington as well.
“Amanda really doesn’t have any good nicknames,” Cahill said. “I’m not a big fan of Mandy.”
Much like the evolution of her nickname, Cahill’s basketball career has been a long journey. IU’s senior day Saturday against Nebraska gave Cahill and fellow senior Tyra Buss a chance to be sent off by the hometown Hoosier crowd one last time. It also capped a college career for Cahill that’s culminated in everything from multiple All-Big Ten selections, an NCAA Tournament appearance and even a bobblehead night in her honor.
The bobblehead night in question was on Jan. 27 in Assembly Hall in recognition of her becoming just the third player in IU women’s basketball history to record 1,000 career rebounds, but that’s far from where Cahill’s journey started.
Long before the rebounds and bobbleheads, it all began in a small town in Ohio.
Cahill grew up around basketball. Her father, John Cahill, is a teacher and girls’ basketball coach at Clyde High School and young Amanda was always hanging around as a ball girl at her father’s practices and games.
“The older girls were always really nice to me and sometimes I would be able to play in their open gyms and travel with them and play in some of their summer leagues when I was in middle school,” Cahill said. “They could have looked down on me because I was younger, but they never did, and I think it was really awesome to be able to get the opportunity to play with older girls.”
While her knowledge of the game began to expand by observing her father, her skills developed through the teachings of her mother, Elaine Comer. A former basketball player, Comer coached Cahill throughout elementary school and helped her craft the outside shot that has allowed Cahill to be a 38-percent career 3-point shooter at IU.
“She would rebound for me in our driveway and would encourage me and help me as I got those reps,” Cahill said. “She’s my biggest fan and super supportive. She’s traveled so many miles to watch me play or take me to games.”
Before long, Cahill was in the high school ranks, playing for her father. That’s where her legend began to grow.
After winning the Sandusky Bay Conference’s Player of the Year honors in her freshman season, she followed it up with three more of the same, while also being named a three-time Ohio Division 2 player of the year in 2012, 2013 and 2014, a four-time All-Ohio first team recipient and a runner-up finisher for Ohio Ms. Basketball after her senior year in 2014.
Meanwhile, the father-daughter duo helped propel Clyde to a myriad of successes on the court. The Fliers finished with a combined record of 99-6 in Cahill’s four years and had two final four appearances in the Ohio state basketball tournament.
Cahill would finish her career at Clyde with more than 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, but her father said it wasn’t the stats that made his daughter stand out as a player. It’s a similar statement that current IU Coach Teri Moren has reiterated many times throughout her star forward’s senior season.
“What made it so special was that she was such an unselfish player,” John Cahill said. “She was such a good teammate that the father-daughter thing never really was a problem.”
While the accolades piled up for Cahill in high school, she took away something a bit more valuable from her experience. She said she and her father came away with a strengthened relationship that not only shaped her as a basketball player, but as a person.
“It wasn’t like any of those horror stories you hear about dads coaching their kids,” Cahill said. “Basketball is something we’ve always done together and we still talk about it a lot.”
Her father said it was an experience he will miss greatly.
“There really was no downside,” John Cahill said. “She was always kind of like an assistant coach. Even as a kid, she was scouting for us. We had a lot of fun watching games and breaking down film and I miss that part of it.”
With the success at Clyde came the interest of a number of colleges. Despite multiple Big Ten schools knocking on Cahill’s door, she committed to IU and then-head coach Curt Miller’s style.
“Curt was kind of local because he came from Bowling Green so I think there was a lot of familiarity there,” John Cahill said. “A lot of the stuff we ran in high school was Bob Knight’s motion offense stuff so there was a lot of familiarity with the school and the coach’s system.”
Cahill had to adapt immediately before her freshman year when Miller left the program and was replaced by Moren.
After making an immediate influence at IU during her freshman season by starting all 31 games and averaging 10.8 points and 7.7 rebounds, Cahill also used that time to learn from her older teammates, like she had done as a young ball girl at Clyde.
One individual, forward Claire Jakubicek, whose last season at IU was Cahill’s freshman year in 2014-15, still stands out as somebody Cahill tries to replicate as a senior leader with a team full of inexperienced freshmen.
“I looked up to Claire off the court but also her work ethic on the court,” Cahill said. “She was really strong in her faith so I think that was something she helped me with coming to college and she always stayed optimistic.”
Cahill’s run at IU has been full of extreme highs and lows. She played an integral part on the 2015-16 Hoosier squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 33 years, averaging 14.7 points and 8.5 rebounds on the season. She was also a major contributor on the team during her junior season that experienced the heartache of missing out on consecutive trips to the Big Dance after losing to rival Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament.
As her Hoosier career draws to a close, Cahill has been able to make a huge difference on the IU women’s basketball program in large part by making up one half of the record-breaking duo she and Buss formed over the past four years.
What started as a little back and forth communication between the two about how to decorate their dorm their freshman year has evolved into a dynamic senior duo few schools in the country can boast.
While Buss has set the all-time IU records for career points, steals and free throws and is closing in on the all-time assists record, Cahill has quietly left a mark of her own as she became just the third player in IU women’s history to record 1,000 career rebounds against Wisconsin on January 24 and currently sits as the eighth all-time leading scorer in program history.
“It’s funny and it’s always something I give her a hard time about,” John Cahill said. “But she’s rebounded way better for IU than she ever did for Clyde.”
Cahill has racked up the numbers during her time in Bloomington, but maybe more importantly she has left behind the highest of legacies when it comes to basketball IQ. As Moren has said multiple times this season, Cahill has been her team’s smartest player and best decision-maker on the court.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever coach a smarter player than Amanda Cahill,” Moren said. “The way she understands the game, she can execute the game plan or she can make plays that are not by design but just based off of pure instincts.”
Cahill said it all goes back to her days of being a coach’s daughter.
“I don’t want to take very much credit for that but I did drag her along to the gym a lot,” John Cahill said. “I don’t feel like the game has ever gotten too fast for her so she sees things and thinks things through. The thing with 'B' is there’s never some underlying thought about stats. With her it’s just been about being a good teammate and winning.”
Cahill, who said she is interested in becoming a teacher and coach one day, stays modest when discussing her basketball knowledge.
“I obviously mess up sometimes,” Cahill said. “I think for the most part, I have a pretty good awareness of what needs to be done.”
When Cahill’s father looks back on his daughter’s career, he looks to a quote that he has used for years as a coach to measure what she has accomplished, “If you have success and don’t share it with others, you’re really not successful at all.”
Likewise, Cahill isn’t interested in being remembered as a great scorer and rebounder or even as one of the greatest players in the program’s history.
Instead, she said she wants people to think of something along the lines of that quote when they hear the name “B.”
“I just want to be remembered as a good teammate and somebody who always tried their best,” Cahill said. “I just hope people think of me as somebody who always did what we needed to win.”
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This is one of two profiles featuring members of the IU women's basketball senior class. Follow along here to read about teammate Tyra Buss' IU journey.
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