Arizona head coach Adia Barnes opened her first in-person press conference in weeks by saying she was ready to move on from the drama that erupted after the Oregon game on Saturday.
“There’s no hard feelings,” Barnes said. “I’ve always had respect for Coach (Kelly) Graves and Oregon. And you know, in the Pac-12 we back up each other. We don’t beat up each other. So it’s competitive. So no more questions about that.”
She had to know that even with a room full of local reporters who have generally been supportive of her tenure in Tucson that it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.
Barnes did not want to go into details about what was heard from the Oregon bench during the game, doing her best Ronald Reagan “I don’t recall” impression for much of the press conference. For the most part, she said it was “nothing specific” and she didn’t remember. Most importantly, she said the problem was how she chose to respond to the situation.
“So I’m probably called a lot of names, but I’ve been called a b-i-t-c-h before,” Barnes said. “It’s not gonna be the first, it’s not the last, and that really doesn’t bother me at all. It’s like whatever.”
Barnes noted that she felt the situation was blown out of proportion because of the sex of the coaches involved and the fact that it was women’s sports.
“I think it happens in men’s games, probably every single game,” Barnes said. “But it’s not an issue because it’s men. Men can coach different because they’re men. If men are yelling like crazy, they’re passionate. If women are yelling like crazy, they’re crazy. So that’s just a double standard we have in our sport and unfortunately, that’s the way it is.”
Graves also made comments to the local media in Oregon that he believed the conflict had been exaggerated.
“I think whatever happened after, I think has kind of been blown up, to be honest with you,” Graves told James Crepea. “I don’t think it was anything more on either side than competitors do, you know what I mean. We compete and sometimes that’s not always pretty. I think that was kind of blown out of proportion.”
After the game, Barnes and her players discussed the situation.
“I just had to tell my team that being a professional being a role model, being a woman in this game, having success is really important,” Barnes said. “I think that there’s a way you conduct yourself and you’re always professional. So I let a few things get to me that shouldn’t and they never usually do. But I felt like I’m not the type that ever loses control. You know, I said a couple things, but I said to the scorer’s table, ‘Hey, don’t judge me for this but I’m saying something.’ Yeah, it’s just I think it is what it is. But I told the players, you stand up for yourself, always. You don’t let anybody say anything to you...whether it’s directly to you or not. And I said, but you handle yourself in a professional manner. You don’t get out of control. You don’t lose your composure. You can stand up for yourself always, but to do it in the right way. And so that’s why I just tweeted out that I didn’t handle myself right.”