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What Adia Barnes, Shaina Pellington and Helena Pueyo said at Pac-12 Media Day

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 13 Women’s - Arizona State at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s a busy week for Arizona women’s basketball. Head coach Adia Barnes and players Shaina Pellington and Helena Pueyo were in San Francisco for Pac-12 Media Day on Tuesday, Oct. 25. On Wednesday, Barnes will be back to speak with local reporters for her weekly media availability. On Thursday, the Wildcats will play their first exhibition game against West Texas A&M.

What did the Wildcats’ representatives have to say to the assembled press in the Bay Area?

On playing with their national teams

Shaina Pellington: “You’re playing alongside pros basically, all the time. They’re very wise. They know the game very well. So I feel like every single time I go overseas to play or play with my national team, I learned a lot about the game. I learned different I think it helps me develop really well as a player and also just as a person.”

Helena Pueyo: “My national team helps me a lot on the basketball stuff, to keep growing up as a player. And it’s really fun to go back and support my country.”

On not playing with her national team in the World Cup this summer

Shaina Pellington: “I thought it was really important for me this time around to be there for my teammates and just be around campus, meet all the new faces. We have seven new players. It’s like a brand-new team. So for me, from a leadership perspective and as a point guard, I felt it was really important for me to be around to help my teammates kind of embrace their new journey at a new place. So I think that was a sacrifice that I would make 10 times over and I think it paid off in the long run.”

On whether Arizona has struggled with offense

Adia Barnes: “A lot of people say that. I never look at it as struggling offensively. Our strength wasn’t offense, but our strength is defense. I think every team has a different identity, and we didn’t have those prolific sores, but we had awesome defenders, so I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like ideally in a perfect situation you’re gonna have great defenders and great offensive players. I think when you’re becoming a championship team, you’re going to have one or the other. I think now we have a really solid defensive system. We have players that can play on both ends of the floor. So I think that areas that we improved in this year is adding some players that can play our type of defense and score the ball really well. So I think with those three transfers [Jade Loville, Lauren Fields, and Esmery Martinez], it stretches the floor and leaves Shaina and Helena a lot of lanes to create and you can help off of. But hopefully, we are able to maintain that same defense with improving offense, and I think that’s a challenge as a coach.”

On whether it’s tough to lose a young player like Aaronette Vonleh to a conference rival

Adia Barnes: “No. Not at all because it’s the way it is. It’s hard because as a coach, you got to recruit your players. You got to recruit the next class. You’re trying to be great. I think that I don’t worry about that stuff. You just got to coach who you have, and that’s the way it is. I mean, basketball has changed. The players have changed...I can’t worry about that... I want players who want to be at Arizona. And if you come to a top team, and you’re not playing your freshman year and you’re not willing to put in the work and get better, then that’s on you. And if you want to leave and go somewhere else, that’s okay with me. I’m perfectly fine with that. And I will sign the paper and let you go.”

On playing marquee games

Adia Barnes: “We’re gonna be playing UConn in a couple of years with a home-and-home. Texas home-and-home. So they’re exciting games and I think we don’t always have to go out of conference to get those. I think we can showcase those ESPN games, the Oregons, the Stanfords. So we can also get those in our conference, which is special.”

On how they improved their games over the summer

Shaina Pellington: “For me personally, I just identified my weaknesses. Things that I wasn’t great at the previous season and how I can improve on those things. So like for me, it was a lot of my outside-the-arc shooting. So that’s something that I’ve invested a lot of time in, in developing to become more of a triple threat.”

Helena Pueyo: “Over the summer I tried to speed, like trying to go more to the basket. I think the 3x3 really helped me a lot. It is a really fast game.”

Adia’s “mom moment” with Helena Pueyo

Adia Barnes: “Can we also get Helena Pueyo a round of applause, because she’s been amazing. When she first came to Arizona, she could only say, ‘Thank you,’ and she barely said that. But I love it. Now, in this moment, I am watching her with the media, talking, comfortable. You don’t understand how much she’s changed.”