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ASU women's basketball's Haines finds new place on the team after injury

The Sun Devil guard is using her unique energy to motivate the team

Sabrina Haines

ASU guard Sabrina Haines (3) drives towards the basket during a women's basketball game versus the UA Wildcats at the McKale Memorial Center in Tucson, Arizona, on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. ASU lost the game, 62-58. 

Junior guard Sabrina Haines came into the season ready to lead the ASU women’s basketball team back to the NCAA tournament from the floor, but she has since had to change her perspective.

In the middle of a game on Dec. 3, Haines felt an unusual pop in her knee and right away knew something was very wrong.

“I was in shock I guess,” Haines said. “I was just in shock because I was just like 'this isn’t good' – it wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Haines remembers flashes and blurs of that night. She remembers being immediately taken off the court for testing and recognizing that her injury was bad based on the tone of the people around her.

When the official diagnosis came in, the usually high spirted Haines felt a drop in her energy. As the most experienced guard on the team, she was expected to play a key role in helping the Sun Devils return to March Madness.

She was scheduled for surgery, and is now in a rehab program for her torn ACL and meniscus, which is expected to last anywhere from six months to a year.

The first week after surgery was the worst for Haines because she was not medically cleared to fly with the team when it traveled to Tallahassee to play Florida State.

“When I was (first) hurt and couldn’t travel, it was awful,” Haines said. “I was just going crazy because I want to be here, and I want to help support my team.”

During the next home game against Idaho, Haines made sure she was there to support her teammates.

“When I got to that first game, throughout that week (leading up to the Idaho game), I realized that I had to focus my energy on a more positive light,” Haines said. “So that first game helped me realize I could really help.”

Haines is continuing to provide support for her teammates. Whether that takes the form of a small coaching tip on how to play better defense, or just encouraging a good play.

“I know energy is super important when I was playing – it helped when the bench went super crazy,” Haines said. “I always try to give them my all and hopefully it helps.”

Haines said she has taken this time away from the floor to work on her leadership qualities, and head coach Charli Turner Thorne has noticed.

Turner Thorne said this time away from playing has allowed Haines to work on what the head coach feels is one of the most important parts of leadership: being a visionary.

“It’s hard to be a visionary when you are in the thick of it every day,” Turner Thorne said. “Now she has a chance to step back and really see. I think it is going to benefit her immensely.”

After the injury occurred, Turner Thorne wasted no time applying for, and then receiving, a medical redshirt for Haines, who will be re-classed as a redshirt junior at the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

While Turner Thorne is devastated that Haines could not be on the floor this season, she is excited to work with the guard for an extra year.

For Haines, getting back to regular team practices can't come soon enough, which is part of the reason she has been working so hard with athletic trainer Diana Padilla.

Padilla said that with an injury like Haines', the timetable for return is often different depending on the athlete and how hard they are working to get back, but she has confidence in Haines’ ability to make a (relatively) speedy return.

“She’ll be back for next season,” Padilla said. “She works hard, she pays attention to little details, she’s doing great ... she follows everything that we ask her to do."

Turner Thorne is particularly proud of the pace at which her guard is recovering, adding that she checks in with Haines and Padilla almost every day.

“(Haines) has handled this injury as well as any athlete I’ve ever been around,” Turner Thorne said. “She just kind of processed it (the injury) and has been attacking her rehab.”

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