AllSportsTucson.com has run a series of profiles on members of Arizona’s 1997-98 Sweet 16 team, the first in program history. Our next story is on the remainder of the team that was able to track down. Special thanks to Felecity Willis for helping to gather information on her 1997-98 teammates for this series. We have highlighted Felecity, Amber Phoenix, Cha-Ron Walker-Harris, Marte Alexander and Lisa Griffith. Click on player names in the roster below to retrieve their stories.
Here are the remainder of the players and the coaching staff members tracked down:
Adia Barnes: Arizona’s head coach in her fifth year. She has coached the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 matchup with Texas A&M today. After her All-American senior season in 1997-98 she played in the WNBA and Europe for 13 years before becoming an assistant coach at Washington. She was hired at hear alma mater in the first week of April in 2016.
Shontey Hambrick: The junior forward in 1997-98 is now an ordained minister in Fleming Island, Fla. She worked in the social services field after earning a communications degree at Arizona.
Monika “Bug” Crank: A junior guard who is a legend at Page High School, now resides in the Mesa area. Crank’s comments:
“I’ve had the nickname Bug for as long as I can remember because my brother use to make me eat them when I was little. I currently reside in Mesa. The past two years I’ve been an essential associate for Amazon Fresh. Before that I was back in my hometown of Page with the city recreation department as a youth sports coordinator as well as an assistant coach for Page High School, alongside my sister Sunni Crank, who is the currently the head softball coach. I love and enjoy being outdoors whether it’s running a half marathon, 10k or 5k fun runs. I play in slow-pitch softball coed and women’s leagues with friends in the valley year-round and also in tournaments in and out of state. I also love to travel. The most recent place I traveled was to Rome and Florence, Italy, all before the pandemic hit. Once the pandemic ends, I plan to continue traveling and seeking new adventures.“
DeAngela Minter: She hailed from Vista, Calif., which is near Barnes’ hometown of San Diego. She was also a senior in 1997-98. After serving in the police force in Los Angeles, Minter earned her physician assistant master’s degree from UC Davis in 2011. Board-certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, she currently practices in New York City.
Michelle “Mikko” Giordano: Is a paralegal in the Phoenix area. After earning her bachelors degree in Business Management at Arizona, she studied for an additional degree in Paralegal Studies from Kaplan University. After her Arizona career, she worked for a law firm in Ventura, Calif., that was principally involved in litigation matters.
Fatima Imara: One of the six seniors on the roster in 1997-98, Imara is now a child and adolescent psychiatry specialist in Wailuku, Hawaii. Imara, who hails from Fremont, Calif., currently practices at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Joan Bonvicini: After coaching at Arizona for 17 seasons, Bonvicini coached at Seattle University for seven seasons through 2016. She resides in Tucson and is now a financial services professional offering securities products and services through NYLIFE Securities LLC. She is also a Pac-12 Networks broadcaster. Bonvicini is in the Arizona Hall of Fame after coaching the Wildcats to seven trips to the NCAA Tournament and winning the most games in school history as the head coach with 287.
Denise Dove: She married former Arizona football recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello, and they both live in Buffalo, N.Y., where Rob is an assistant coach with the University of Buffalo football team. Denise is the assistant coach for the Clarence High School boys basketball team in Buffalo.
Bill Broderick: He has coached the Christopher Newport University women’s basketball program for the last decade. After coaching at Arizona, he was an assistant coach at Potomac State College and Bucknell. He was hired by Newport, an NCAA Division III program, in 2012. His record is 223-45 at the school.
Traci Waites: After leaving Arizona, Waites became the head coach at Pitt and Columbia. She has been out of coaching since 2004, when she went into the hospitality industry in Atlanta. She has worked for Atrium Hospitality and the state of Georgia’s Guest Services.
Arizona is returning to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the 1997-98 team went that far into the NCAA tournament, and the one constant between the two is head coach Adia Barnes.
Barnes was Arizona’s leading scorer on the team that reached the Sweet 16 and played UConn 23 years ago in Dayton, Ohio, under Arizona Hall of Fame coach Joan Bonvicini. The Wildcats culminated a 23-7 season with a 74-57 loss to the traditional power under Geno Auriemma. Arizona that year was ranked as high as No. 7 in the AP Top 25.
Barnes has now coached the Wildcats and All-American guard Aari McDonald to the Sweet 16 in her fifth season at her alma mater. No. 3-seeded Arizona (18-5) faces No. 2 Texas A&M (25-2) in the Mercado Region of the NCAA tournament on Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
“I’m getting a lot of messages on Facebook and Twitter and DMs (direct messages) just wishing us good luck and everybody is just so proud of the program,” Barnes said when asked if she stays in contact with her 1997-98 teammates. “It’s come so far along. Most of these people were out of touch with the program for 10-12 years, kind of like how I was when I wasn’t here.
“I am really trying to be intentional about connecting with players. I want Arizona to be where everybody comes back and talks to the team, where there’s relationships and they help with jobs.”
Barnes said Arizona’s team from 23 years ago is similar to her team this year.
“We were scrappy. It’s funny because we were a full-court pressing — I was at the top of the press — run and jump (team),” she said. “Very similar to how we are now, that’s what’s kind of ironic. Everything is kind of parallel, the story of how I built it — very similar to Joan when I came.
“Joan was a players’ coach that had a connection with me a lot like Aari and I, and Cate (Reese) and I, and Sam (Thomas) and I. Aggressive, blue-collar, scrappy — we’d make it look ugly sometimes, but we played that type of defense. That’s kind of what we’re doing right now.”
Willis mentioned that she sees a more calm and collected Barnes as a coach than when she was as a player.
“When she played, she was a beast,” Willis said. “She was an undersized post player. She didn’t care who she was going up against. She would get excited.
“One of my main memories of her always was that she wore a mouthpiece. She had braces. Every time she got excited and she took the mouthpiece out, she had saliva everywhere. That’s just how it was. She would get excited. She was a player you don’t want to mess with.”
ARIZONA 1997-98 ROSTER
Head coach: Joan Bonvicini. Assistant coaches: Denise Dove, Traci Waites and Bill Broderick. Click on the name of the player to retrieve their story.
|0||Shontey Hambrick||F||6-0||Jr.||Moreno Valley, Calif.|
|3||Lisa Griffith||G||5-6||So.||Portland Ore.|
|10||Reshea Bristol||G||5-10||Fr.||Omaha, Neb.|
|22||Monika “Bug” Crank||G||5-7||Jr.||Page, Ariz.|
|23||Felecity Willis||G||5-7||So.||Apple Valley, Calif.|
|30||Adia Barnes||F||5-11||Sr.||San Diego, Calif.|
|31||Amber Phoenix||G||5-7||Jr.||El Cajon, Calif.|
|32||DeAngela Minter||G||5-6||Sr.||Vista, Calif.|
|33||Cha-Ron Walker||F||6-1||Sr.||Los Angeles, Calif.|
|34||Mikko Giordano||F||6-1||Sr.||Ventura, Calif.|
|35||Fatima Imara||F||6-3||Sr.||Fremont, Calif.|
|42||Marte Alexander||C||6-4||Sr.||Los Angeles, Calif.|
|50||LaKeisha Taylor||C||6-4||Fr.||Houston, Tex.|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.