Blanca Millan has some unfinished business at the University of Maine.
That’s why the Black Bears’ senior guard, the reigning America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, said she will seek a medical hardship waiver after the season in order to return to UMaine next season.
Millan tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in a 57-31 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 29 and underwent season-ending surgery.
Players can receive a medical redshirt if they didn’t play in more than 30 percent of their team’s games and didn’t play in a game in the second half of the season.
The 6-foot-1 Millan played in six of UMaine’s 30 games, which is 20 percent.
“I’ve done a lot of things here already but I didn’t want to leave without finishing the right way,” Millan said on Tuesday. “I want to finish what I started here.
“I know if I stay here, I will keep growing as a player and as a person,” Millan said.
She will graduate in May and could have transferred to another school and played right away because she will be a graduate student or she could have pursued a professional career.
But Millan said it would have been difficult to begin a pro career after sitting out such a long period of time. Her expected recovery period is nine months.
“This was the best option,” Millan said.
The native of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, said it took her a while to reach her decision.
“I talked to my family and I talked a lot to coach [Amy Vachon] and I felt this is the best decision in order for me to keep growing as a player, especially coming off a nine-month injury,” Millan said.
Returning to a comfortable and familiar environment was another reason behind her decision.
“You never know what’s going to happen if you leave. I know what I’m coming back to. I know everyone here. Next year’s team can be even better than the past years’ teams. I’m real excited to be coming back,” Millan said.
Millan, a two-time America East first-team selection, has led the Black Bears to back-to-back America East championships and consecutive NCAA Tournament berths.
She ranks eighth on UMaine’s all-time scoring list with 1,547 points, 124 behind seventh place Sigi Koizar. She has averaged 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 106 career games.
She said her surgery went well and she has been rehabilitating the knee.
“I’m taking it day by day. It’s a long process but I’m getting there,” she said. “I have all summer, which is good.”
She hopes to get off her crutches soon and said she will probably spend more time than usual in Orono this summer to ensure that she will be 100 percent ready to go when the season starts.”
Millan was one of three returning starters off last year’s 25-8 team along with senior forward Fanny Wadling and junior point guard Dor Saar.
Wadling, who led America East in rebounding last season (9 per game) suffered a concussion in an exhibition game and will be a medical redshirt. She also is returning for a fifth year.
The addition of the talent and experience provided by Millan and Wadling next season will bolster a UMaine team that features Saar and junior Maeve Carroll and is utilizing freshmen Anne Simon and Anna Kahelin.
UMaine takes a 7-11 record (3-1 in America East) into Wednesday’s 11 a.m. game at UMass Lowell.