The fans in Tucson know what they have in Arizona Wildcats head coach Adia Barnes. The Atlanta Tipoff Club agrees.
For the second straight season, Barnes was one of 15 coaches named to the late-season watch list for the Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy Women’s Coach of the Year. Last season, Barnes was one of the four finalists for the award.
“I’ll probably never win it but who knows,” Barnes said. “It was funny because last year when I saw it I was excited, like, ‘Oh that’s a cool honor. It’s phenomenal.’ And then I saw who was on it with me, I was like, ‘I’m never gonna win it over Dawn Staley. Darn.’ It’s one of those ‘yes! But damn!’ I think it’s an honor just because people are recognizing the work we’re doing at Arizona and I think that for me it’s fun because you know I’m just starting my career. I’ve been a head coach for five years.”
Barnes took over a program that hadn’t had sustained success since 2005. In just five years, she has built it into one that has been ranked in the Top 25 for 30 straight weeks. That is the longest stretch in program history.
The team heads into games against California and Stanford that could help lift them to a regular-season conference championship. The Wildcats will be making this season’s third appearance on the ESPN networks when they face Stanford. Those are the program’s only regular-season appearances on the network in its history.
The Naismith list will be pared down to 10 coaches on Mar. 3, then the four finalists will be announced on Mar. 18. The winner will be announced on Apr. 3.
The Pac-12 has three coaches on the watch list. In addition to Barnes, UCLA’s Cori Close and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer are on the list. VanDerveer became the all-time leader in wins for an NCAA women’s basketball coach earlier this season.