On the heels of the University of Arizona’s WNIT championship, third-year women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes recently sat down with members of the media to discuss her team’s recent successes, and what’s to come for the program.
The following is an edited transcript of Barnes’ press conference.
Now that you’ve had a few days to process the Women’s National Invitational Tournament championship, how would you describe what your team was able to accomplish?
It’s really meaningful. I think people are still talking about it in the community. I think to end with a win is really important. I said there’s two teams that end on a good note. That’s us and the National Champions, so that’s Baylor this year. So, I think for us, it’s a great way to go into the offseason, it’s tremendous momentum for recruiting, and a lot of good things are happening.
What have you heard from feedback from this WNIT championship on a national level?
Just from my coaching circles, it’s just congratulations. There was a lot of really good teams in the WNIT. A lot of teams that have gone to the tournament, that have won the WNITs. If I look at the history from the WNIT, when you win it, you have success in the tournament the following years. You look at UCLA, South Florida, a lot of different teams. So, I think for us, that’s the positive side. And we got a lot of experience, and a lot of confidence. And I think we showed what Arizona is capable of doing, and the type of fans that we’re capable of getting, and the type of support this city has, and it’s a basketball city. So, I think the WNIT was even more beneficial in those areas. And that’s national recognition.
How many players do you expect to have in the recruiting class of 2019 when it comes to incoming freshmen and transfer players?
I’m not sure. We’re looking at transfers, we’re looking at a couple of graduate transfers, so probably a couple more players. Not for sure yet. Because for me, if it’s not the right fit, if they don’t make us better on and off the court, not even taking a chance. I think there’s two ways you can think about it. So, a transfer can help you right away. They can bring you a championship, or a winning attitude, and help you in different ways. Or, you look long-term for transfers. So, I’m not huge on transfers, but if they can help this, and I know people that know them, or that have coached them, I know that it’s a good situation, I’ll take them.
What kind of traits are you looking for in the players you’re currently recruiting? Are you focusing on adding shooting and height inside, or something else?
Yeah, shooting and inside. I think on the perimeter; we definitely need to shoot it a little bit better. I wouldn’t mind a really athletic guard. But, we’re going bring some really talented freshman in, too. So, there’s a balance of that. You know, you want to bring in your freshman, develop them. Right now, we’re recruiting for 2020. So, transfers can help you right away. It would have to be the right person, the right fit, and it’d just have to fit a deficit that we need.
How close would you say this team is to be a contender for an NCAA Tournament berth, and possibly winning a Pac-12 championship?
I think so. Yeah, I think it will. And I think for us, like, it’s something I wouldn’t have really looked at in the past. But now, I think as we’re getting better, there’s some pieces that can really help us get to that next level. And I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m so intrigued by some of these transfers. Especially if they’ve came from a winning culture and you know, they’re seasoned, and experienced. And I think there’s a lot of value to that with a young team. And that’s on and off the court.
Do you think there will be any significant changes in playing style, now that you’ll have more depth next year?
I think there will be a difference in playing style, just using more depth. You know, not having to play Aari [McDonald] 38 minutes. I think cutting down some minutes, that will help us. And I think we’ll be just a little bit better defensively when we can use a better rotation.
Q: What did you learn about your players through this championship run?
I learned that they wanted it bad. I think I knew that they wanted to win, but when you have a young team, you don’t know if they’re thinking about spring break, or what would be better. I knew that they were hungry at the very end, and they wanted us to do something special. And I don’t think that they felt satisfied at the end of the season. And so, I think that was a positive thing.