Denise Dove Ianello commands one of the most pivotal spots on head coach Joan Bonvicini’s staff, that of associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. Ianello has been vital in the step-by-step process of elevating the UA program to that of a Pac-10 and national powerhouse. With Ianello being at Arizona nearly as long as Bonvicini, the two have earned a well-respected reputation around the league and the country, which translates into attracting the nation’s best talent.
Over the last 11 years, Ianello has been instrumental in recruiting All-American talent, including a conference-best and nationally fourth-ranked recruiting class for the 1998-99 season — the highest in Arizona history. This year’s recruiting class has been ranked as high as 11th by All-Star Girls Report. Since the 1998-99 season, Arizona has had an impressive run of five straight top-20 recruiting classes.
As the program’s associate head coach, Ianello continues to be invaluable to the success of Bonvicini’s system, which has taken Arizona women’s basketball to the next level of competition and to legitimate year-in and year-out national championship contention.
Ianello, 33, has become one of the most respected recruiting coordinators in the country. Her work ethic, outgoing personality, knowledge of the game and relationship with the student-athletes provide a quality package for Arizona’s program. Her accomplishments have been recognized by the rest of the coaching ranks as well — in a national poll of coaches conducted by the Women’s Basketball Journal, she was named one of the nation’s top 10 assistant coaches two years in a row, including a No. 5 ranking last season.
Her responsibilities for this campaign remain the same as the past seven seasons — evaluating and coordinating the recruitment of prospective student-athletes and coaching on the floor with the guards. Ianello is responsible for the recruitment of all the team’s current student-athletes, and she assists with academics, scouting and the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
At the age of 22, Ianello began her first year at Arizona as the restricted earnings coach. Bonvicini immediately recognized Ianello’s coaching talents and quickly promoted her to full-time assistant in 1993, after she had been on Arizona’s staff for only seven months. Until 1994, she served as academic coordinator, coached the Wildcat guards, assisted in recruiting and was director of the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.
Since joining Bonvicini’s staff in August of 1992, Ianello has continually been rewarded for her hard work and coaching expertise through promotions and increased responsibilities. A case in point was at the beginning of the 1994-95 season, when she was promoted to recruiting coordinator. Ianello also handled all team travel operations, assisted with academics and coached the posts that season. Her most recent promotion came in May of 1998, when she was named associate head coach.
A 1992 graduate of Northern Illinois, the then-Denise Dove was a three-year starting point guard for the Huskies. During her career, she led her team to appearances in both the NCAA Tournament and the NWIT, and NIU earned national rankings as high as No. 11. With Dove leading the offense, Northern Illinois led the nation in scoring for two of her last three years. Dove was named Player of the Year for her team in 1989 and Defensive Player of the Year in 1990.
She is still the Huskies’ all-time career assist leader (526), the single-season assist leader (169) and was ranked ninth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,042 points. In addition, she holds all nine NIU three-point field goal records, at one time ranked seventh in NCAA Division I career three-point field goals made and 10th in three-point field goal percentage.
Ianello is also the only Huskie, male or female, to have tallied over 1,000 points and 500 assists during her career. She was named Northern Illinois Woman of the Year as a senior and named to Who’s Who in American Universities. She was a two-time all-conference selection as well.
Ianello credits some of her recruiting and coaching experience in part to her own stellar athletic career, but also to the degree in corporate communications which she earned while at NIU. She is a firm believer that knowing how to communicate with and relate to young women is the key to coaching, motivating and molding them into great players, as well as great women. Ianello first put her theory to test during her final year of school, while she was a student assistant coach with the NIU staff.
Basketball is a cornerstone for the Dove family. One could say she is definitely a “student of the game”, having grown up with her father, Steve Dove, in the coaching ranks. A well-known “gym rat,” Ianello learned the ropes while watching and listening to her father, who was a very successful coach at the high school and junior college levels. A former assistant coach for the University of Minnesota, her father is currently director of athletics at Edina High School in Edina, Minn. Ianello credits much of her success as a player and a coach not only to her father, but also to her mother, Sue, and her sister, Stacey, who is also a former Division I basketball player.
Being a high school All-American herself has given Ianello the unique ability and insight to relate to the All-Americans she is courting for the UA. Ianello was a two-time all-state selection at Robinsdale Armstrong High School in Plymouth, Minn., as well as an honorable mention USA Today All-American and Parade Magazine All-American.
Ianello holds the distinction of being the first player in the state of Minnesota, male or female, to score a three-point field goal after the three-point line was installed. She excelled not only on the court, but off the court as well, as she was named Homecoming Queen her senior year.
In April, 2001, Ianello was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Classic Lake Conference, which is comprised of schools in the metropolitan Minneapolis area.
Ianello considers herself an avid moviegoer and enjoys R&B music and soaking up the Tucson sun. In between watching countless hours of scouting and recruiting tapes, along with any kind of basketball on television, she shares her free time with her husband, Rob Ianello, who is the UA football recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach. The two formed their unique sports alliance when they were wed on July, 3, 1999, in Denise’s hometown of Minneapolis, Minn. The couple had their first child, Zachary Robert Ianello, last spring on April 9.