By Dr. John Huang/ photo credit Gary Moyers
Replacing arguably the most popular backcourt in the history of the program is no small challenge. That’s what Kentucky Women’s Basketball coach Matthew Mitchell was faced with when both Maci Morris and Taylor Murray graduated at the end of last season. It’s still too early for final judgment, but at least for the first six games of the 2019-20 season, it appears as if Mission Accomplished!
One of the best kept secrets on all of UK’s campus was the emergence of this year’s point guard, Sabrina Haines. The 5’10” transfer from Arizona State sat out last year recovering from a knee injury. Her assimilation into the starting position as Matthew Mitchell’s floor general has been nothing short of outstanding.
Productivity on both ends
Haines has been surprisingly productive on the offensive end, averaging 11 points and nearly 5 rebounds per game. She’s also been a pleasant surprise from 3-point range, hitting 13-27 from behind the arc. Most importantly has been the redshirt senior’s steadying influence and on-court leadership in Mitchell’s frenetic and frenzied style of play. She’s so strong with the ball, a reliably solid defender, and all business during the games. I’ve yet to see her crack a smile running up and down the court.
“Sabrina benefits from a few different things,” said Coach Mitchell. “One, she was here last year, so it’s not her first go round. She’s a veteran player. She’s tremendously competitive, and has just a real strong desire to play the game and be successful.”
Leading to another blowout victory
In Kentucky’s 81-35 blowout victory over Grambling State, Haines was predictably solid, scoring 9 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. Together with Amanda Paschal, Jaida Roper, and mid-year transfer Chasity Patterson, the Wildcats’ backcourt appears as solid as ever.
Final Four or bust?
I’m not predicting a Final Four for this team just yet. Matthew Mitchell’s teams have gotten off to good starts before. You never know what might happen through the gauntlet that is the SEC. But so far, there’s just something different and special about this team. Her name is Sabrina Haines—and she’s a difference maker. You’d be wise to check her out.
(This will be the only Kentucky Women’s Basketball post that never mentions Rhyne Howard.)