Bonvicini to Barnes: Go for it.

Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 6:56 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 6, 2016 at 7:47 PM MST
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Seattle, WA (KOLD) - Winner. That's the first word that comes to mind for Joan Bonvicini when speaking of her former star Adia Barnes.

"Adia's the kind of person that you never want to say you can't do something."

Bonvicini would know. From 1994-1998, Arizona's all-time wins leader coached the girl who would become Arizona's all-time scoring leader. Along the way, the two turned the Wildcat women's basketball program from bottom feeder to a Sweet 16 team.

"She wasn't really heavily recruited," said Bonvicini. "A lot of people even told her she wouldn't play very much. Ended up, her freshman year she was Freshman of the Year in the Pac-10."

The accolades didn't stop there. Three-time First-Team All-Conference. Player of the Year. First-Team All-American. The list goes on and on. But those were the playing days. Now Barnes is Arizona's head coach and Bonvicini is convinced she'll be just fine.

"I mean she is a tough, tough competitor," said Bonvicini.

Toughness is one thing but Bonvicini said Barnes' winning qualities don't stop there.

"She's a young coach. She's never been a head coach before but I think more than anything, she's a really good leader. Kids will enjoy playing for her. I think she'll bring back the excitement and winning attitude back to the U of A."

Barnes admitted in her introductory press conference that she had consulted with Bonvicini about the Wildcat opening.

"I did check with her because she's someone I trust," said Barnes. "She's one of the most winningest coaches in the country. We talked a lot about it."

"I told her I was very excited for her," said Bonvicini. "First I thought they were talking about her as an assistant. When she said it was as a head coach, at first I wasn't sure. But when I really thought about it and all the things Adia has done, I just told her to go for it."

Go for it because, as Bonvicini noted, Barnes has a fantastic support system in place, especially at Arizona. Ultimately though, the pressure falls squarely on Barnes' shoulders.

"The thing I've always said to Adia is that I believe in her," said Bonvicini, "When you know someone believes in you, you can go above and beyond anything."

Bonvicini, who amassed 287 of her 701 career wins in cardinal and navy, said she's proud that her best Arizona player is now leading her former program. But for all the help and advice she's given, Bonvicini said it starts and ends with Adia Barnes.

"As a player, she absolutely achieved every possible thing I think she could," said Bonvicini. "She did the same thing as a pro. She did it at UDub. I am one-hundred percent confident that she will do an outstanding job at the U of A."