Barnes Relishes Role On McGuff's Staff
Jan. 25, 2012
SEATTLE - Sometimes you wonder when Adia Barnes ever has free time.
On any given day in the basketball offices at UW, the first-year assistant coach can be found poring over game film, writing recruits, making phone calls and meeting with Husky student-athletes. Yet this was the path she chose after accepting a job offer to join Kevin McGuff's staff at Washington.
Prior to becoming an assistant, Barnes was on a course for a lucrative and rewarding career in media, calling women's basketball games for ROOT Sports in addition to her regular radio duties as a color analyst with the Seattle Storm.
But for someone who had her eye on coaching, this was a perfect fit. McGuff brought an established reputation to the Pacific Northwest after a highly successful run at Xavier, which included an Elite Eight berth two years ago. Barnes had previous opportunities to coach at the collegiate level, but was waiting to work for a coach who could also be a mentor.
This doesn't mean Barnes isn't overwhelmed at times with all her new responsibilities. She just understands how to roll with the punches.
"I'm learning the process. This is all new to me," Barnes said. "I'm finding out what system works best for me as a coach. There's so much stuff to do, you have to find a way to be efficient so you can be successful."
This week brings Barnes into focus as she prepares to coach against her alma mater, Arizona, on Thursday night (7 p.m. tipoff) at Alaska Airlines Arena. During a four-year career with the Wildcats, Barnes established herself as one of the greatest players in program history, scoring 2,237 points from 1995-98. The San Diego native was admittedly an undersized forward and lightly recruited when she arrived in Tucson, but credited her work ethic in helping her become an elite collegiate player. She later went on to play in the WNBA - including a stint with the Storm - and for several teams overseas.
Barnes brings that same motivation into coaching. This is what drives her when she arrives to at the office each morning.
"I think that's just how I am. I'm always trying to get better at anything I do," Barnes said. "I want to be successful. I want to wake up every day and love what I do."
Her passion for basketball and helping young women develop is one of the reasons she wanted to get into the profession. When the Huskies went overseas to the Scandinavian countries this offseason, it was Barnes who was the vocal leader at a clinic for a large group of Norwegian children. When her close friend - and former Husky men's basketball letterwinner - Andrew Moritz was fighting his battle with cancer, it was Barnes who put together a 5K run/walk event to raise funds for treatment that would ease his suffering.
The mentoring aspect of her job is something that comes easy for Barnes. She established a foundation that helps provide positive role models for Seattle-area youth.
"That's huge for me. I wish I had more of that," Barnes said. "I wish I had a former player coaching me when I was growing up. I look back at the most important years of my life, and all the important life lessons I learned were through sports."