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What Adia Barnes said after Arizona’s first-round win over Stony Brook

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 04 Women’s - UCLA at Arizona Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats dominated from start to finish in a 79-44 win over Stony Brook in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. No. 3 seed Arizona will now face No. 11 BYU, which upset No. 6 Rutgers earlier Monday.

Our recap from the game can be found here. Here is what Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said after the team’s first round win over Stony Brook. (Her interview starts at the 9:20 mark.)

Arizona post Stony Brook press conference

Hear what Aari McDonald and Adia Barnes said after Arizona Women's Basketball's win over Stony Brook

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Monday, March 22, 2021

On Barnes’ overall impressions from the game: “I’m really excited the way our team competed today. The way we came out ready, fearless, aggressive defense. I thought we never really let Stony Brook get in their offense. We hadn’t played for two and a half weeks. So I was concerned about how we’re gonna come out. Like are we gonna be too nervous? This is our first time in the tournament. This is uncharted territory. But we handled it like champs. I thought we came out just with the intensity that I expected and I wanted to see so I’m very happy for this team.”

On whether Barnes felt relief that the team was performing to its expectations: “Yeah, for sure. I think one of the challenges that I challenged the team with and myself as a coach was, I didn’t feel like we performed in the Pac-12 tournament after Washington State the way we should have. I didn’t think we were playing Arizona basketball. I wasn’t happy obviously with the loss against UCLA. Just knew we had some things to work on. But I felt in the last two and a half weeks, we’ve worked on those things, and we’ve gotten better. I think mentally, physically zoned in, tuned in, ready for the next step. And I saw a different sense of urgency. I saw a different hunger that what I didn’t really see in the Pac-12 tournament. But then it was like, how are we going to perform on the floor? We came out with a fire intensity, what I expected and what I know we can do every day. So I’m just proud that we were able to do that after two and a half weeks off. And I also told the team, it is a different year. It’s Covid. It is different, it feels different in the tournament. It’s a new season. You don’t feel all the excitement around the tournament that you normally do, because you’re kind of on lockdown a little more. So I think the teams that handle the best adversity here, being in your room a little bit more, me having a little less access to things. That’s gonna be the teams that win. We were focused, excited to be here. Didn’t take anything for granted, and I think we show that on the court. I’m proud of the way we responded with all the extra stuff going on.”

On whether this was a stress-free game: “I don’t think any game is stress free. I think when you’re a coach every game’s stressful, everything’s stressful. I think that’s just the nature of the business. That’s what I signed up for. But I think that this is uncharted territory. I mean, this whole year has been uncharted territory. It’s a Covid year, it’s different. It’s a year we’ve had a target on our back. We’ve been a top 12 team the entire season. So we can’t sneak up behind people and get win. So I think there’s a little bit more pressure when you’re the higher seat. And I think the first game is the hardest game. I think once you get past this first game, I think it’s all fair game, but being able to perform and come out and have that fire, I think that said a lot because we’ve never been here. We’re not like Stanford and some other Pac-12 teams that have been here every year. This is our first time and we didn’t get to do this last year. So just proud of how focused we were.”

On how Arizona breaks up games into smaller segments: “We take one possession at a time. We don’t think about the next game. We don’t think about this or that. We think about every five-minute war in a game. We condense the game within a game. We think about winning the five minutes, then the 10 minutes, then the 15, 20. We don’t look at winning the 40. So I think that we did it in those small segments. And we did it well. We started to sub in the third quarter, had a little bit of lapse, but also Stony Brook, they’re a really good third quarter team. And they’re a good second half team. So we knew we were gonna take some runs but just happy the way we put them away. I think I had that sigh of relief a little bit in the second quarter just because I felt like we were firing on all cylinders. We were playing solid defense. So I was happy. But then I knew, 0-0 at half, you can’t take it easy at halftime, of course, because it’s a whole ‘nother game.”

On whether Barnes watched any of BYU’s win over Rutgers. (BYU is Arizona’s Round of 32 opponent): “No, none, I can’t do that. So I’m the type that I don’t like to jinx myself. I think that I’m not good at that. I have to just focus. I didn’t even really want to know the score. I can’t. I’m better at focusing on what we have to do. Not getting distracted, not looking ahead, because I think when you look ahead you get your butts kicked. And we’ve learned that this year a couple times. So no, I was not concerned about that. But I did think that Rutgers was going to win in the end because of their pressure. But BYU is coached really well and they’re a dangerous team.”

On whether Barnes had any family members at the game: “Well I have my daughter with me, obviously my kids. No I was not because some of my family’s flights got canceled, so hopefully we make it further and they’ll come later. But we did have a group. President Robbins was here. Dave Heeke. We had Sam’s (Thomas) family. Aari’s (McDonald) family. We had a good little section. So it was nice to see that. And we loved hearing bear down after the win.”

On Arizona’s renewed intensity: “Yeah, I felt that way the last week in practice. I felt like we were just a little bit more focused or hungry. Knew the importance of the tournament. I felt that we got better the last two weeks. I think mentally, physically, just as a team, we’re connected. I really felt that way. And I felt like we started the game how I hoped we would start the game. So I’m really proud. Our goal was to force them to 25 turnovers. We did that. Our goal was a certain amount of points. We held them under the points we wanted. I think the only correction, we didn’t box out that well. We gave up 11 offensive rebounds. That’s the area I didn’t like, but all the things we set out to do, we did and we did well. So I’m just proud of us. I think that we had 18 assists. 14 turnovers is a lot for us, so I don’t I don’t love that. But 17 steals, we won the paint war, we won the turnover war. Those are things that we wanted to win, and I thought that the team did a really good job of executing what I asked, and I think really good focus and really good playing together as a team.”

On Aari having 20 points: “I mean, it all starts with Aari. Aari was extremely efficient. Our team didn’t settle for threes. I love the fact we took 10 threes. We were 5 for 10. We don’t have to shoot three. That’s not us. We’re so good at so many other things. Attacking, I thought Bendu (Yeaney) attacked the basketball. I thought Aari, Sam and Bendu did a great job of passing the ball inside and getting our bigs involved. It’s a really good team effort and really good balance, but Aari’s our catalyst on offense and defense so I thought she did a good job. Trinity (Baptiste) 10 shots, 8 for 10, extremely efficient. It was a very good performance by our team.”

On whether Barnes expected more aggressiveness from Baptiste and Cate Reese: “I did expect this. I expected Cate and Trinity to be aggressive. I mean, them combined for about 33 points. Really good. I thought that they were strong inside. I thought Cate kind of got muscled on the first two shots missed but then she stayed with it. She was aggressive. But our guards kept on giving them the ball. Lauren (Ware) got her involved. Off the bench Helena (Pueyo), Shaina (Pellington). Really good off the bench. And Lauren. Came in, they were productive. They were good on offense and defense. Just a really good balance. We’re good when we have three or four people in double digits in scoring. I think we could have probably even had a fourth.”

On the team’s extreme efficiency: “Sam played the 1, 2, 3, 4 for us. She ran the team well. I didn’t feel like she passed up a lot of shots, I just feel like she they didn’t really give her shots. They were chasing her hard. But for her to have six steals, zero turnovers, three assists, that’s an incredible stat line. That is a player that’s helping you win games. I mean, Sam scored two points, three rebounds, six steals, three assists. A plus 21 efficiency. That is extremely efficient. And that’s just what your captain does to help you win games. And if you look at our efficiency, our highest, Lauren plus 28, Aari plus 28. That’s what I like to see. Trinity plus 24. That’s good team effort. I look at free throws, gosh 5 for 10. That’s because we’re not shooting a lot of them, but that has to be better. But I’m really proud of this team. I’m really proud of their fight, their focus, their effort. Like I said, this is uncharted territory. We haven’t been here and I’m proud of the way we respond in every single way.”

On what Arizona will do to prepare for BYU: “So now obviously we have all the games downloaded. We’re waiting for today’s game against Rutgers to watch, so we’re down to scouting. It’s like 3:30. We’ll go back, obviously have food. We’ll meet after that for scout because we have two people obviously working on different scouts. So the scouts ready, we’ll watch film, talk about it. I said we celebrate for about an hour this game, then it’s on to the next one. Then all of our focus is on BYU, nothing else. We don’t get too high or too low at this time of year. It’s a one and done. We’re undefeated right now. So we’re going for one more. There is nothing to look ahead. It is all BYU. Our focus in about an hour turns to that. They’re a good team. Everybody this time of year is very good. It only takes one game to advance so we’re trying to do that. So it’s all BYU. We’ll do our scout. We’ll go test. So I think we’re testing at around six o’clock. So we got to walk to the convention center as a group. We test. And then after that it’s rest. We’ll do some kind of recovery rest and get our minds right. And then tomorrow, because of the turnaround, tomorrow wouldn’t be obviously a really intense practice. It’s more of a walkthrough. Attention to detail, but I think we have a big advantage in the Pac-12. We are used to and we are accustomed to playing Friday, Sunday. Huge advantage for us. Most people aren’t used to that. We’re used to that turn around. We’ve done it all year. So I think we have a big advantage. Now I’m in that area because now we play again Wednesday, but that’s nothing new for the Pac-12.”