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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bonvicini exemplified definition of coaching

    She may have put it best following her team’s 8-22 season: Sometimes success isn’t measured by wins.

    That’s the biggest reason Arizona women’s basketball head coach Joan Bonvicini has earned the Arizona Daily Wildcat’s Coach of the Year honor. Though her team struggled in the win column during the year, in her 14th season at the helm of the Wildcats, Bonvicini exemplified the very definition of coaching in 2005-06.

    “”I mean, you look at all my other achievements as a team, my career has been very successful,””

    Bonvicini said in March. “”But success is measured in different ways, and this year, as far as the things we’ve overcome, I’d have to say we’ve been successful.””

    Among the adversity Bonvicini dealt with was the tragic death of star center Shawntinice Polk, who passed away Sept. 26 from a blood clot that passed from her leg into her lungs.

    The coach’s players will tell you that this year’s team was closer than in any previous years. Sophomore guard Jessica Arnold often referred to her teammates as “”sisters.”” Bonvicini referred to herself and her coaching staff as “”surrogate parents.”” It truly was, and continues to be, a Wildcat family.

    They supported each other, overcoming injuries – there was a point in the season when the team had only two healthy players off the bench – and inconsistent play. But perhaps most astonishing of all, they managed to laugh and smile each day during practice, even when they were in the midst of a nine-game losing streak to close the regular season.

    And throughout it all, leading the way was Bonvicini. She not only taught her team about basketball, but also about life.

    “”Everything … has been really frustrating and hard, but I think as a team, we’ve definitely grown,””

    Arnold said. “”We’re all better people because of this, and we’re all so much closer.””

    Simply finishing the season could have been viewed as an accomplishment, but Bonvicini and her determined squad beat Oregon in the first round of the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament to break the skid.

    In the week leading up to the game, Bonvicini instilled a sense of confidence in her squad unmatched through the entire season.

    “”As long as everyone’s on the same page, and we’re all focused,”” Arnold said before the game, “”I think we can make it happen.””

    Bonvicini – three times a finalist for the Naismith and Associated Press College Coach of the Year awards – could be back on the winning track next season with some much-needed depth at the post positions set to arrive next year with a hyped recruiting class.

    If nothing else, after enduring a season like this one, Bonvicini has her program ready for anything.

    Honorable mention: Frank Busch, swimming and diving

    Frank Busch is what you would call a motivator.

    In a sport that is so individualized, Arizona’s swimming and diving coach manages to make it all about the team.

    That unity this season helped the Wildcats earn a second-place finish for the men and third-place for the women at the NCAA Championships as well as Pacific 10 Conference titles for both.

    “”It was a great class of both men and women with great senior leadership,”” Busch said.

    In addition, Busch received the honor of Pac-10 women’s swimming Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career.

    “”It’s an honor to be selected,”” Busch said.

    -Allison Hamila

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