By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat December 3, 1996
When Arizona women's basketball head coach Joan Bonvicini returned to Long Beach State on Sunday, it wasn't exactly a homecoming.
Yes, there were the two Final Four banners and numerous conference championship banners hanging from the ceiling, but it was a different ceiling from where she had won them. That was not the only thing different. The Pyramid didn't have the kind of teams Bonvicini built, either.
"It's really strange how things have changed," Bonvicini said. "They're not the kind of team they were a couple of years ago, but this was still a big win. I think the last time we played Arizona when I was coach at Long Beach, we beat them 102-62."
Arizona's 97-57 win sure puts things in perspective.
Winning against her old school wasn't the only thing special for Bonvicini in the Wildcats' victory. The win was the 400th of her career, with 325 of those coming as coach of the 49ers.
"I think it is a major milestone in my career," Bonvicini said. "There are different ways you grow as a coach and getting 400 wins shows you have continued to grow. I have had so many great basketball players and assistants over the years and a lot of the credit has to go to them."
Bonvicini, who came to the Wildcats in 1991, has notched 75 wins with Arizona. She is now 75-73 overall with the team and is already the winningest coach in the history of the program.
"I am very happy it happened at Arizona. It means a lot to have done it here," Bonvicini said. "A win like this shows we have taken the program to a different level."
Arizona forward Adia Barnes is making a strong push for postseason honors already. Currently she is third in the conference in scoring at 21.7 points per game, sixth in rebounds at 10.2 and sixth in steals at 2.5.
"Adia is going to be a good one," Bonvicini said. "She has potential this year to be an All-American. The sign of a great player is the ability to make those around her better and she definitely does that."
Barnes recorded two double-doubles last week and was nominated for the Pacific 10 Conference player of the week.
Despite defeating its last two opponents by a combined 82 points and suffering its only loss to the third-ranked team in the nation, Arizona received only five votes in the latest Associated Press top 25 basketball poll.
Bonvicini, however, said she feels her team will get the nod come NCAA Tournament time.
"We've picked up some good wins against tough opponents," she said. "The big thing also is that we have done it on the road."
Arizona has come out especially strong on the road after its loss to Louisiana Tech.
"We feel like we have to come out fast and take care of business when we are on the road," Barnes said. "We feel like we have something to prove out there."