Adia Barnes and Arizona Are a True Cinderella No Matter What Happens Against Stanford
The Arizona Wildcats will play the Stanford Cardinal in the women's NCAA tournament championship today. Arizona made it to the title game by upsetting Paige Bueckers and the top-seeded UConn Huskies. After the game Arizona coach Adia Barnes was caught having a private moment with her team where she said some version of F everyone who doubted us. It was a pretty cool moment and the players reacted accordingly.
On Saturday she was asked about what she said and did not apologize. This was also pretty cool.
Barnes, who also played at Arizona from 1994 to 1998, has been an incredible success at Arizona. The season before Barnes returned to campus, the Wildcasts went 13-19. In her first season they went 14-16. In her third season as coach, just four years ago, they fell to 6-24. Then in '18-'19 they won 24 games, including the WNIT. Last year they were headed to the tournament before it was cancelled. This year they're playing for a national title. This is an insane turnaround and should be used right alongside Juwan Howard as the reason every school dreams of a former player returning as a coach.
Arizona had never been to the Elite Eight until this year. Before this season, their last tournament win came in 2005. If the Wildcats win they will be the first championship team to have five loses since Texas A&M in 2011. They will have the worst winning percentage of a women's champ since the 1997 Tennessee Volunteers.
Stanford is 30-2. This would be the kind of underdog story that you see in the men's tournament, but it just doesn't seem to happen in women's basketball where a handfull of teams are legitimate powerhouses and the rest are just things to be steamrolled. Arizona is a Cindarella right now, but with Barnes in charge, they could become the new steamroller.