ORONO, Maine — The members of the University of Maine women’s basketball team are feeling residual aches and pains, while dealing with some scary memories, from Tuesday night’s bus crash in Massachusetts.
Coach Richard Barron’s Black Bears spent Thursday and Friday resting up for Saturday’s 2 p.m. America East regular-season finale against New Hampshire at Memorial Gym in Orono.
UMaine athletics spokesman Tyson McHatten said several team members on Thursday received follow-up medical evaluations from team physicians and athletic trainers. All eight of the team members who have had not already suffered a season-ending injury apparently will be cleared to play against UNH.
A new addition to the injured list is freshman guard Milica Mitrovic, who suffered a broken hand in Tuesday’s crash.
UMaine did not schedule a formal practice for Friday, although at least a few players were expected to participate an informal workout at Memorial Gym. The game was moved from a noon start at Alfond to 2 p.m. at Memorial Gym because the UMaine staff needed additional time to evaluate the players, according to UMaine press release.
Upon her arrival in Orono on Wednesday, sophomore guard Courtney Anderson of Greene said returning to the court will be the best medicine.
“For me, yes,” she said. “For some of the [other] people, I think it would be, too. It’s totally a personal issue on how all of us are reacting to the situation.”
America East has announced that Wednesday’s scheduled game at Boston University, to which UMaine was headed when the accident occurred, will not be made up.
The contest has no bearing on the conference standings as BU was banned last fall from participating in the conference tournament after the school announced its intention to compete in the Patriot League starting with the the 2013-2014 school year.
A UMaine win and a loss by Binghamton on Saturday will give the Bears the seventh seed and enable them to avoid top seed and tournament host Albany in next Friday’s quarterfinal round at SEFCU Arena.
It has been a trying season for the Black Bears, who have a dismal 4-23 record that is among the worst in program history.
With only four healthy players, including two upperclassmen, returning this season and an influx of nine first-year players, it was bound to be challenging. UMaine’s efforts were further hampered by season-ending injuries to three starters, all of them post players.
Top that off with the crash and its aftermath, and the Black Bears have had a trying season. Assistant coach Amy Vachon marvels at how the team has handled all the adversity and challenges.
“We’ve had a rough year, no one’s going to deny that,” Vachon said Wednesday, “but the kids are so resilient and it’s a real good group of kids. They’re staying together and they have all year.”
Saturday also will serve as “Seniors Day” and UMaine will honor its three senior team members.
The only one to compete this season was Corinne Wellington, who previously suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Rachele Burns of Gorham and Amber Smith, both of whom were forced to stop playing prior to this season because of injuries and health issues, also will be recognized. Both have assisted the team in nonplaying roles.