On Monday, the Michigan women’s basketball opted to go with a veteran of the game with the team’s hiring of its latest assistant coach, Yvonne Sanchez.
Sanchez has been coaching for 23 years, whether in an assistant or head coach position. Starting her coaching career in her native state of New Mexico, she served for six years as an assistant coach at New Mexico State before working at San Diego State for a brief stint before transitioning to the University of New Mexico.
In Alberquerque, she was an assistant for eleven years before being promoted to head coach in 2011, where she led the Lobos to a Women’s Basketball Invitational berth twice before leaving in 2016.
After a year’s absence from coaching, she returns to the profession but this time as the Wolverines’ assistant coach — specializing in coaching the guards. After the departure of first-team All Big Ten guard Katelynn Flaherty, development in the position would help mend the hole left by Michigan's all-time leading scorer.
What Sanchez brings is something Michigan has had trouble with over the past couple seasons — experience in creating stability for late-season finishes.
“When filling this assistant coaching position, I thought it was really important to bring in someone with a lot of experience — whether that was as a head coach or an assistant coach,” said Kim Barnes Arico to MGoBlue. “Yvonne brings a ton of both with her to Michigan. She is well-respected amongst her peers as well as recruits. I think she has an outstanding personality and connects well with people all over the country.”
The Wolverines saw a successful season with a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2012-13 season. However, their berth was threatened by a lackadaisical finish, where they lost four of their last six regular season games. With Sanchez, they look to fix that and improve in the development of guards. With a recruiting class that has two point guards in the top 100 — including five-star recruit Amy Dilk — development of the first-years will be essential for success.
“She will bring another dimension in all aspects of our program, from recruiting to working with our point guards,” Barnes Arico told MGoBlue. “I had an opportunity to work with her about 15 years ago on the All-American committee and have followed her career ever since. They had a ton of success at New Mexico during her time there, reaching a Sweet 16, growing such a large fan base, and recruiting some great players. We are excited to have her join us in Ann Arbor.”
With the hiring of Sanchez, the program has taken a step forward to stability and consistency that should push Michigan to the next step after they saw their season end in the second round of the tournament.
“I am excited and honored to be able to work at a phenomenal place like the University of Michigan,” Sanchez said. “Kim and her staff have done an incredible job in Ann Arbor, their success is on the rise, and I am looking forward to working with such an incredible team of staff and players.”