During a game against University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Dec. 9, 2016, redshirt junior guard Macy Miller was racing down the floor late in the first half. She went around a screen set by senior forward Ellie Thompson and went into a jump stop motion. When she planted, her right knee buckled and she went down.
She knew right away she tore her ACL for the second time. The first time it was her left knee before her sophomore year of high school.
“The first one I didn’t have a lot of pain, but this time I had a lot of pain because there was bone bruise as well,” Miller said.
It was a gut-punch for the South Dakota State women’s basketball team as Miller was out for the rest of the season. She was the Summit League Player of the Year in 2016 and was averaging 14.9 points per game before the injury.
“I instantly knew it was bad,” Thompson said. “Our whole season felt like it came to a crashing halt.”
Miller spent the next nine months of traveling back and forth from Brookings to Sioux Falls rehabbing.
“All you can think about is how long it will take,” Miller said.
Miller said that after the surgery the doctors wanted her to walk on it right away, then do exercises with bands.
“Then you eventually start running and jumping, which is the best part, and then you go full and see how things go,” Miller said.
Recovery from a torn ACL takes nine to 12 months, so Miller’s recovery was pretty quick.
“Macy’s recovery has been exceptional,” said head coach Aaron Johnston. “She put in a ton of time and a ton of effort to get to the point where she can now play without noticing the injury less than a year after it happened is remarkable.”
The Jacks started practice at the beginning of October and Miller has been participating fully. Johnston said he thinks Miller was a little hesitant during the first couple days.
“You could tell she was trying to feel it out a little bit,” he said. “But since those first couple days, honestly when I watch her I wouldn’t even know that she had a surgery.”
Even though she’s torn her ACL twice, Miller said she tries not to think about it so she doesn’t become hesitant.
The Jacks finished last year with a record of 23-9 and 13-2 in the Summit League. They lost in the semifinals of the Summit League Tournament and failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons.
Johnston said he thinks the loss of Miller really hurt them in the Summit League Tournament.
“Her talent is exceptional. She has a chance to be one of the best to ever play here. So anytime you take a player like that off your roster, you’re going to feel it,” Johnston said.
Thompson said the players forgot how good of a player Miller was.
There are high expectations for SDSU and Miller this season. They were ranked No. 1 in the Summit League Preseason Poll and Miller was named to the Summit League Preseason First Team.
Johnston said the injury to Miller allowed for other players to gain a lot of experience and get better.
“Macy will have to find a way to be who she is, which is a really good player on both ends of the floor, but also kind of fit into the strengths of other players that have grown and evolved,” Johnston said.
As far as expectations for herself, Miller said her knee is feeling great and she is ready for the Jacks first game on Friday against Minnesota State Moorhead.
“I’m just going to go out there and play like I did before the injury,” she said.