One family, one team: Barnes, Coppa share success

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Saul Bookman | The Daily Wildcat

UA women's basketball coach Adia Barnes, right, with husband and assistant coach Salvo Coppa, left, pose for a photo after the first women's basketball practice of the season.

A coach and their relationship with their assistants is one that needs to be borderline telepathic. Being able to read the person’s mood and knowing their next move in order to sail smoothly are vital abilities. 

When your assistant coach is your and husband, the communication and relationship takes on a whole new meaning. For women’s basketball head coach Adia Barnes and assistant coach Salvo Coppa, this is just their everyday life.

In sports, where family and togetherness means just a little more, having the two people at the helm connected at the hip has already paid dividends for the Arizona women’s basketball program. 

Being around each other hasn’t put any holds on their deep relationship, but it has rather strengthened it.

“She is a strong woman, and that’s what makes [her] go,” Coppa said. “The dynamics work well, because we find the balance between work and family.”


Adia Barnes, left, and husband Salvo Coppa, right, pose with their son, Matteo.


The Wildcats hauled in one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, taking a page out of office neighbor Sean Miller’s recruiting handbook by building the class around a McDonald’s All-American, Cate Reese.

Coppa played a crucial role, but he won’t take much credit.

“First of all, all of the coaches did an amazing job,” Coppa said. “The recruits that have been coming are happy to be here. They love the facilities, they love the coaching staff and they like Arizona. I believe Arizona is a wonderful place so we are just trying to do our best to recruit the best players.”

Now that the two coaches have their star player Reese on campus, Coppa couldn’t say enough good things about the blue-chip recruit, especially her offensive game.

“She always finds a way to score because she works so hard,” Coppa said. “She has a lot of intensity during practices, and she is really aggressive.”

The shiny new player is what is likely going to draw fans and write headlines, but if you watch closely, the duo on the bench will play as crucial a role as the ones who are checking in at the scorers’ table. 


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