Tucson, AZ (KOLD) – It happened on the bus.
To be clear, of all the memorable moments from last year's Washington run to the Final Four, it's not necessarily what happened on the court that stands out most for Adia Barnes.
It's that bus.
Not the bus that drove the Huskies around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though the ride was a definite highlight.
The bus Barnes speaks of is the one that picked her and the rest of the Huskies up from their Marriott Hotel in the suburbs of Bethesda, Maryland. It's the bus that drove them to College Park for their second round NCAA tournament game against the Terrapins.
Although, if we're being specific, it wasn't really what happened on the bus that stood out either.
It was what happened around the bus.
It was the police escort.
"You feel like you're the president," said the former Washington assistant. "We all felt like we were royalty."
It was a sunny afternoon when the 7th seed Huskies boarded the bus bound for the 2nd seed Terrapins' home court, Xfinity Center.
"We didn't know how cool it would be," said Barnes. "There was bumper to bumper traffic. There was a full freeway of traffic."
Traffic doesn't matter when you're royalty.
"Police officers would block and move people. Running all the lights. They would go ahead half a mile and clear a lane. I had never seen anything like that. It was awesome."
And when you're royalty, yours isn't the only ego that may feel entitled.
"The bus driver's like, 'Move over!' He started directing traffic. We were all dying because he was honking at people yelling, 'Get out of the way!'"
The ride lasted twenty minutes. The game lasted forty minutes. When the clock hit zero, the Huskies had upset the Terrapins, 74-65, despite only six Washington players ever seeing the court. The Washington Post called it one of Maryland's, "more stunning losses under Coach Brenda Frese."
"That was special," said Barnes. "To go in there convincingly and win was great. I think we all kind of surprised ourselves."
The ride wasn't over. Washington then went on to Lexington, Kentucky for the Sweet 16 where it defeated the 3rd seed Wildcats in Rupp Arena, 85-72. Two days later, the Huskies repeated the feat, dropping Pac-12 foe and 4th seed Stanford, 85-76. The win meant that Washington had booked its ticket to the Final Four for the first time in school history.
"It was magical," said Barnes.
Ultimately, the ride ended with an 80-59 loss to Syracuse on Monday, April 3rd. The very next day, Arizona introduced Barnes as its new head women's basketball coach.
"It was a really special year with some really special people I love a lot."
Now those special people come to McKale to take on their former assistant's new team.
"They're all so pumped up to come play here," said Barnes. "It's been circled on their calendar. They tell me, 'Ah, we're going to see you this week.' Some people think they're going to get 30 against me. I'm like, 'No you're not.'"
The 2015-2016 Huskies' success came, in part, because of Barnes. That success provided her with the blue print for how to build Arizona. As 8th ranked Washington makes its way to Tucson, it is Arizona who is now the underdog. A perfect opportunity for the memory of that ride to resurface.
"No one believed we could do it," said Barnes. "No one thought we'd be there. And then we did it."
Time to get on the bus.