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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bonvicini wins No. 600

    Arizona womens basketball coach Joan Bonvicini is hoisted by guards Malia ONeal, left, and Joy Hollingsworth after her 600th career win on Feb. 8, 2007 in McKale Center. Bonvicini will not serve the final year of her contract next season.
    Arizona women’s basketball coach Joan Bonvicini is hoisted by guards Malia O’Neal, left, and Joy Hollingsworth after her 600th career win on Feb. 8, 2007 in McKale Center. Bonvicini will not serve the final year of her contract next season.

    As the game clock ticked town to triple zeroes, women basketball’s head coach Joan Bonvicini looked at the scoreboard and a smile came across her face.

    The wait was finally over. Career win number 600 was finally in the books.

    “”I didn’t think about it until then,”” a teary-eyed Bonvicini said afterward. “”It just hits you. Someone asked me how it felt to be in elite company, and I guess I am now, but I don’t think about that kind of stuff, but I’m happy and ready to win 601.””

    Bonvicini becomes the 18th coach in NCAA Women’s history to record 600 wins. In 28 seasons, she now owns a 600-270 record through her career at Arizona (16 seasons, 275-199 record) and Long Beach State (12 seasons, 325-71).

    Seconds after the game ended, the entire team surrounded Bonvicini in a group hug and lifted her up over their shoulders as they presented her a giant bouquet.

    “”I was looking at the list of other coaches who have reached that many wins and it is definitely a wonderful honor for Coach B,”” senior guard Joy Hollingsworth said. “”It feels great to be a part of it and give something back to her.””

    Bonvicini is now the second Pacific 10 Conference coach to reach 600 wins. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has 679 and counting. It also is the second milestone win the NCAA women’s basketball world has seen this week, as NC State coach Kay Yow reached 700 wins.

    Bonvicini started the season as the winningest coach in the program’s history with 591 wins, nine short of 600.

    “”I never thought it would take this long,”” said senior guard Linda Pace. “”You would think we would have gotten it (in 2006), but we finally got it now, and it’s great and I’m happy for her and happy to be a part of it as well.””

    Pace is the team’s only four-year senior. She said that in her four years at Arizona, Bonvicini has been like a second mother to her.

    “”She’s always in for the best interest for her players,”” Pace said. “”It’s not always just about basketball, it’s about developing us as women and making us great people.

    “”She’s always looking out for us and makes sure that after basketball that we succeed in life.””

    Bonvicini echoed those same thoughts, saying that her “”family”” known as Arizona women’s basketball is like the children she never had.

    “”The players are definitely my family,”” Bonvicini said. “”I feel like I have 14 kids. As a coach, people always say you’re a surrogate parent – well, it’s true.

    “”They need you to be there not only to teach them about basketball, but when they have personal issues, or school, or just making adjustments to college life,”” she added. “”They want someone there who they know is going to care about them.

    “”Sometimes the lessons we teach are not only about basketball, but they are life lessons.””

    Under Bonvicini, the Wildcats have made seven NCAA tournament berths and also won a WNIT Championship.

    “”It feels really good,”” guard Ashley Whisonant said. “”We have been trying to get this win since Christmas. I am glad that we finally got it for her. … We haven’t seen her this happy in a while.””

    Bonvicini won her first career game in 1979 and reached 100 wins in 1983. Her first milestone win as a Wildcat came in 1993 when she got career win number 400 against her former team, Long Beach State.

    It took her eight years to get to 500 wins, but she reached that figure in 2001 against Oregon State, which she won number 600 against last night, 65-61.

    “”I’m happy and relieved to be at 600,”” Bonvicini said. “”I’m very pleased to share it with this team and staff. They have worked so hard and it’s been a tough season.””

    Added Hollingsworth: “”We knew that this season would give her the 600th win, but we were not really thinking about it. Let’s keep the tears flowing as long as we’re winning.””

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