ORONO — Take a look at Fanny Wadling’s statistics and nothing jumps out, unless one is a true basketball fanatic.

The 6-foot-1 University of Maine junior forward is a good player, but unless you’re studying every possession, what Wadling does for the Black Bears often doesn’t stand out until one can do a deep dive on the stat sheet.

When did Wadling get three steals? A couple blocks? While other teammates filled up the score sheet, Wadling quietly went about her business. The biggest Black Bear simply does all the little things.

“We have a lot of scorers, so I’m trying to be everything that has to be done. Pass the ball, set screens, leadership,” Wadling said. “I enjoy doing all of that. It’s stuff that doesn’t show up in the stats.”

University of Maine junior forward Fanny Wadling, center, has provided plenty of production for the Black Bears this season. Contributed photo by Peter Buehner

Maine learned how important Wadling is when she missed 10 non-conference games earlier this season while recovering from a concussion suffered against Duke on Nov. 15. Wadling returned to start 21 games and played the entire America East schedule. The Nacka, Sweden native will be key for the Black Bears (24-7) when they host Hartford on Friday at 5 p.m. in the conference championship game at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center. A victory sends Maine to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.

“We won some games without her, but we really missed her. She was playing at such a high level when she went out, it was nice to see her come back at a high level,” Maine head coach Amy Vachon said of Wadling.

In 21 games this season, all starts, Wadling averaged 6.4 points and 8.9 rebounds. She had 20 blocks, 31 steals and 41 assists, showing her all-around value to the Black Bears.

“She’s really aggressive in the post. She grabs a lot of attention. She’s really important to us,” said Blanca Millan, Wadling’s roommate and the America East Player of the Year. “Since she got back from the concussion, she’s done really well. She takes care of what she has to do, rebounding, boxing out, defending the biggest players. She’s a consistent player.”

Wadling suffered the concussion when she took an elbow to the jaw against Duke. The Black Bears went 5-5 in her absence, including five consecutive losses before conference play began with a 67-46 win over New Hampshire. Wadling returned that game, finishing with  four points, three rebounds, two steals and two assists in 21 minutes.

“Honestly, at that point, I was just thinking about feeling better. Of course I wanted to get back and play. But I wanted to feel good again,” said Wadling, who is playing with a broken pinkie finger on her right hand at the moment.

Wadling’s absence forced Maine to play 5-10 senior Tanesha Sutton, adept at slashing to the basket, as more of a post player, along with key reserve Maeve Carroll. The Black Bears got another taste of life without Wadling in a conference semifinal victory over Albany on Sunday, when Wadling got in foul trouble early.

“I have to focus on making sure I’m boxing out,” Sutton said after the game, which saw Maine erase an early 12-point deficit for a 66-51 win. “Fanny does a lot for us when she’s on the floor.”

Added Vachon: “When we were without her, at one point Tanesha was our tallest player. Tanesha was a guard playing down underneath. She plays bigger than her size, but it’s tough. Having Fanny back has been helpful.”

With 13 boards in Maine’s quarterfinal win over UNH, Wadling had her ninth double-digit rebounding game of the season. She’s had four double-doubles this season, most recently with 11 points and 12 rebounds in the regular season finale against Binghamton.

Wadling chose to attend Maine because she felt a family vibe when she visited the team. Coming from Sweden, Maine winters were not a drawback.

“Coach Amy said on my recruiting trip I was the only one she could say it was going to be warmer than home,” Wadling said.

Wadling and Millan roomed together as freshman. Being far from home (Millan is from Spain) and trying to communicate in English, a second language to both, the roommates barely said a word to each other the first week.

“Then a month later, we couldn’t be quiet,” Wadling said. “It evolved into a great friendship.”

“We talk in English. She knows some Spanish. We tried one year to learn each other’s language, but it never went so far so we stick to English,” Millan said.

Wadling studied Spanish for six years, but said she knows less of the language than she should. There are times when Millan, unsure of an English word, will say what she means in Spanish. In her head, Wadling will translate that to Swedish, and the friends will be able to communicate.

“We understand each other, but not always in English,” Wadling said.

On the court, nothing is lost in translation.

“She really knows what she has to do. I know she sets goals for herself and wants to hit them every game,” Millan said.

With one more season in her collegiate basketball career, Vachon expects bigger things from Wadling.

“She’s one of the best defenders on our team. She knows exactly where the ball should go at all times,” Vachon said. “Each year she’s grown in a different way. I think leadership-wise, she’s grown a lot. I think for her, a lot of the time it’s a mental game more than a physical game..”

By that, Vachon means Wadling is learning how to block the negative out of a game and focus on the next play.

“When she comes out of the game, she might be frustrated for about 10 seconds, then she’s the biggest cheerleader on the bench,” Vachon said.

University of Maine junior forward Fanny Wadling, center, has provided valuable minutes for the Black Bears this season. Contributed photo by Peter Buehner

Wadling expects to play a bigger role in Maine’s offense next season.

“I feel like I want to be more of a scoring threat. That’s going to open things up for everyone,” Wadling said.

For now, Wadling will score when the opportunity arises, and grab boards, and make passes, and play tight defense. Casual fans may not notice what Wadling is doing on the court, but her team will.

To Wadling, that’s what matters.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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