Arizona Women's Basketball

Adia Barnes leads Arizona to where coaching career began — Washington

Just think: Only six years ago, Adia Barnes was on Washington’s bench coaching against her alma mater Arizona with Aari McDonald wearing the Husky purple and gold a season later after being recruited to the Husky program by Barnes.

Those two became the cornerstones of Arizona achieving its first Final Four trip and national championship game appearance last year only five years after Barnes departed Seattle for Tucson.

Adia Barnes when she was a Washington assistant in 2015-16 (Washington photo)

Barnes will return to Seattle on Friday to coach against Washington for the fourth time since becoming the Arizona coach in 2016-17. She is 2-1 there after winning the last two games in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Tipoff between the No. 8 Wildcats (18-4, 8-4 Pac-12) and Washington (5-13, 0-10) is at 8 p.m. The game will be live on the Pac-12 Network and KTUC (1400-AM).

Her first game at Seattle as Arizona’s coach in 2016-17 was a 91-55 loss against many of the players she helped coach to the Final Four in 2016 with head coach Mike Neighbors. The roster included All-Americans Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor. Also on that Husky team was McDonald, a freshman who had 13 points against the Wildcats.

Little-known fact: Osahor, a former standout at Phoenix St. Mary’s recruited by Barnes to Washington, is the Godmother of Barnes’ son Matteo.

Seattle is a special place for Barnes, who won the WNBA title with the Seattle Storm in 2004 before embarking on a seven-year professional career overseas, where she met her husband Salvo Coppa.

The Adia Barnes Foundation was created when she was an assistant at Washington from 2011-16. In that foundation, she mentored under-served youth and conducted charitable events and community service projects such as school supply drives. In cooperation with the Huskies’ marketing department, the foundation also promoted ticket sales through efforts such as “Barnes’ Dawgs.”

She formerly served as Director of Player and Coach Development at Seattle Academy and also became a broadcaster for NBA TV and Fox Sports Northwest. She was the lead analyst for the Seattle Storm radio broadcasts for almost 10 years.

Adia Barnes when she was with the Seattle Storm (Storm photo)

Another little-known fact: Barnes analyzed Seattle University games on radio in 2010-11 when her former coach at Arizona — Joan Bonvicini — was in her second season leading that program.

“I love that city, I love the people. It’s a strong basketball community, especially for women’s basketball,” Barnes said when she first returned to Seattle as Arizona coach.

Barnes will match wits Friday against Washington’s first-year coach Tina Langley, who coached the Rice Owls to a WNIT championship last season. Langley was an assistant at Maryland under former Arizona standout Brenda Frese.

Barnes has stated that reserve post player Ariyah Copeland returned to practice this week and should be available for the games at Washington and Washington State. She missed the last two weeks with a migraine headache, according to Barnes.


Arizona — Adia Barnes achieved her 100th win at Arizona last month in her sixth season at her alma mater. Her record is 107-70 (which is also her career mark). She is 87-30 since starting 20-40 in her first two seasons of rebuilding the program.

Washington — Tina Langley, who is 5-13 in her first season at Washington, is 131-74 overall in her seventh season of coaching including the previous six seasons at Rice.


Cate Reese and Shaina Pellington have been consistent leaders on offense since Arizona started Pac-12 play. Reese ranks fourth in conference play at 17.0 points per game while Pellington is 11th (14.8). A concern for Barnes with both is if they get in foul trouble. Others have to step up to fill the offensive void.

— Arizona has consistently been proficient from 3-point range ranking second in the Pac-12 shooting 36.0 percent. Thomas is third in the conference shooting 46.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Madi Conner is coming off a career-high 16 points in the win Sunday over Arizona State. That occurred after she played less than 4 minutes in Tempe two days previously and did not attempt a shot. Barnes needs offense when she can get it and Conner can be that x-factor player in that regard.

Nancy Mulkey, who led Rice to the WNIT title last year with Langley as coach, is one of 15 players in the country named to the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Watch List.  She currently leads the Pac-12 and is fifth in the country with 3.3 blocks per game. Mulkey is second among active Division I players with 367 career blocks and third with a career average of 3.1 blocks per game. 

— Washington has the best 3-point defense in the Pac-12, holding opponents to just a 28.5 percent mark this season.


— Mulkey, who is a former teammate of Reese at Cypress (Texas) Woods High School, is also Washington’s second-leading scorer (10.4 points a game) and leading shooter (48.1 percent). Despite being 6-foot-9, the Cypress, Texas, product has attempted 15 shots from 3-point range and made seven for 46.7 percent.

Haley Van Dyke is the top returner at Washington. She leads the Huskies with 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.

— The Huskies have struggled taking care of the ball, which could lead to difficulty tonight when facing the “Arizona Defense” that has a pressuring style. Washington is last in the Pac-12 in turnovers averaging 18.3 a game.

— Arizona is second in the conference in steals (10.6 a game) and opponents are averaging 18.9 turnovers a game.

— The Wildcats are second in the Pac-12 allowing 56.9 points a game. —

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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