University of Maine senior guard Blanca Millan, the America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year last season, will undergo surgery next week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.
Millan, who is leading the Black Bears in points (18.2 points per game), rebounds (6.3) and steals (2.3), suffered the injury late in the first half of last Friday’s 57-31 loss to Arizona State at the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament in Estero, Florida.
UMaine head coach Amy Vachon said Millan will have the surgery locally and the recovery period will be six to eight months.
“It will depend on the rehab. It could be longer,” Vachon said.
Under NCAA guidelines, Millan qualifies for a medical hardship waiver (redshirt) because she won’t have played in more than 30 percent of UMaine’s games this season.
Vachon said UMaine has not explored the medical redshirt yet but plans to do so at some point.
“We haven’t even thought about it. She tore her ACL on Friday, and we just want to support her to get through her surgery. It’s one day at a time,” Vachon said.
Vachon said Millan, one of UMaine’s captains, has been leading the team from the sidelines.
Millan has options other than returning to UMaine to play next season.
If she graduates in May, she could elect to transfer to another school where she would be eligible to play immediately because she will have completed degree work in four years without exhausting her fourth season of eligibility.
Or the native of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, could elect instead to begin a pro career.
“Blanca has a lot of goals in her future she wants to try and achieve,” Vachon said. “We will do whatever we can to help her achieve those goals.”
Millan ranks eighth on UMaine’s all-time scoring list with 1,547 points in 106 games (14.6 ppg) and has averaged 2.5 steals in her career.
Millan is not the only Black Bears starter shelved by an injury. Senior forward Fanny Wadling, America East’s leading rebounder last season (9 rpg), suffered a concussion in a Nov. 3 exhibition game against McGill — her second concussion in as many seasons — has yet to play.
University of Delaware transfer Gaddy Lefft, a 6-foot forward, hasn’t played either due to a lower-body injury.
“Right now we have 10 healthy bodies. So everyone has to be ready. You never know what’s going to happen,” Vachon said.
Vachon conceded the injury to Millan has lowered expectations — at least among those on the outside — for the team. UMaine was a unanimous choice to win the league championship again in the preseason coaches poll.
“People don’t expect us to do anything now, so we’ll go after it and see what we can do,” she said.