Adia Barnes didn’t think anyone was birdwatching when she flipped a middle finger.
The Arizona women’s basketball coach was caught by television cameras Friday delivering a fiery message to naysayers in a team huddle after an upset win against Connecticut in the Final Four of the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament.
“You saw at the end of the game I honestly had a moment with my team and I thought it was a more intimate huddle,” Barnes later told reporters. “I said to my team something that I truly felt and I know they felt, and it just appeared different on TV.
“I’m not apologizing for it because I don’t feel like I need to apologize. It’s what I felt with my team at the moment. I wouldn’t take it back.”
Barnes, 44, is a former WNBA player and now a rising star in the college basketball coaching world. She led her alma mater out of the basement in the Pac-12 when she was hired in 2016 and didn’t stop after securing a No. 3 seed in March Madness.
The Wildcats will face Stanford in Sunday’s national championship game.
Warning: Graphic imagery
It doesn’t take a master’s degree in lip-reading to know Barnes said a four-letter ‘F’ word when she put up her middle finger in the huddle.
“I did not cuss out the NCAA,” Barnes said immediately after the game. “I did say a cuss word. The cuss word is basically, ‘forget’ everybody, more of a chosen word. Forget everybody if they don’t believe in us, because we believe in us. That is my team. I believe in them.”
Calls for Barnes to apologize – she is a state employee and high-profile representative of the university – have popped up on social media. Barnes said there was no premeditated “strategy” or “plan” to her message.
“We’ve gone to war together,” Barnes said. “We looked around the room, we looked around the circle and we believed in each other. I’m in those moments. That’s how I am. I don’t apologize for that. I’m just me. I have to just be me.”
On her Twitter account, Barnes admitted, “Not the best look, but I was loving on my team.”