A talented family, but who is tops?
If you’ve read any articles on the Mabrey sisters, you’ve likely heard about how competitive they are. Pickup games in the driveway sometimes ended in tears, and the neighbors’ garden was frequently victimized. “If you lost, you were going to hear about it the rest of the day,” Dara told App.com last year. Her three older siblings, Roy Jr., Michaela, and Marina, “would do anything to beat a younger sibling,” Dara recently told ND Insider, and she herself would do anything to beat younger brother Ryan.
The four oldest Mabrey siblings have all played college basketball, and Ryan is an eighth grader who could join them one day. Roy passed up Division I offers to play at Division II Saint Anselm College; Michaela played at Notre Dame, where Marina is currently a senior; and Dara is a freshman at Virginia Tech. So figuring out who is the best of the Mabrey bunch is no easy task. Roy identifies Michaela and Marina as the most naturally gifted; Dara says that Michaela is the best shooter of the five siblings, while Marina is the best at driving the basketball. Dara calls herself the most competitive and has a reputation for being a tough defender, but admits that Ryan can now beat her one-on-one. Marina also beat Dara in the girls’ most recent pickup game in October.
This week’s stats column settles the score more definitively (and safely!) than any single backyard game can. Since Dara is only a freshman, it’s premature to compare her college career to her siblings’, so the chart below compares only the freshman seasons of each Mabrey sibling. Effectively, this gives Dara the equal footing she never got in the backyard as the youngest and shortest participant. The best result in each statistical category is highlighted in blue.
Roy and Dara have gotten more playing time than Michaela and Marina did as freshmen, starting every game and averaging about 30 minutes per game. Marina still leads in games played as a freshman, but Dara still has two regular-season games and an undetermined number of postseason games left, so she could pass Marina if Virginia Tech makes a postseason run. Roy also scored the most points and had the most rebounds.
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Despite Dara’s contention that Michaela is the best shooter, it’s Marina and Dara who have the best freshman-year shooting stats. Marina was the only family member to shoot above 50% from the field (perhaps aided by the drives to the basket that Dara mentioned). Dara is shooting nearly that well (46.5%) from behind the arc this season, already leading the family with 66 3-pointers made as a freshman.
Dara, who is commonly described as more of a true point guard than her sisters, is also leading the family in assists by nearly one per game. But she turns the ball over most often, too, averaging 2.7 turnovers per game. Michaela turned it over the least as a freshman, averaging 1.2 turnovers per game. (In Dara’s defense, she is playing more than twice as many minutes as Michaela did as a freshman.) Marina, the tallest of the Mabrey sisters at 5’11”, had the most blocks and steals per game.
In the end, though, the “stats” the Mabreys likely care most about are not the box-score stats. Dara sums it up neatly: “I hate losing.” Her team has lost 10 games this season, including an 80-51 defeat to Marina and Notre Dame in January. Michaela’s Fighting Irish team had the best record, going 36-2 and reaching the Final Four in 2012-13.
Roy will likely be the only sibling whose team had a losing record in his freshman campaign, but he did win Northeast-10 Conference Rookie of the Year that season. It remains to be seen how far Dara can take the Hokies this season, but she’s certainly thinking big. Last year, she told App.com, “I’m just going to go to Virginia Tech and try to make history there.”
Dara is also thinking big in the longer term. Despite all of the losses in the driveway growing up, “I truly believe I will be [the best player] because I’m the last of the girls,” Dara told ESPN last March. “I learned from them. My journey was harder. I had to learn how to shoot over them. And I don’t think their competitiveness will match mine.”
Unfortunately, this stats column does not have a way to measure competitiveness. But the numbers we do have show that Dara is playing at a similarly high level as the Mabreys before her. In several categories, she is exceeding their very high bar. Time will tell whether she can get the wins that she covets most, both as a Hokie and in the driveway.
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