November 16, 2001

Carrying the Team, Not Just the Bags

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Ka’Ron Barnes was the Ivy League Rookie of the Week three times last season, he was the second leading scorer on the team, and he led the league in freshman scoring. It’s safe to say he helped carry the men’s basketball team in the 2000-01 season. It’s also safe to say he helped carry the team’s bags. That’s because Barnes was the only freshman on the team.

“Ka’Ron was the only freshman on the team last year, so when our team traveled, Ka’Ron got stuck with the brunt of the rookie work,” senior co-captain Pete Carroll recalled, laughing.

While the sight of a double-figure scorer doubling as a bellboy drew a few chuckles last season, Barnes is more likely to cause coaches to draw new game plans this year. He has worked on many aspects of his game over the summer, including his outside shooting.

“Last year, I shot well at the beginning, but when the [Ivy] season came around it was kind of awkward,” Barnes mentioned. “So I knew that I had to be more of a consistent shooter, so I addressed that aspect of my game.”

If last year’s season finale against Harvard is any indication, Barnes is right back on track. He netted a career-best 21 points against the Crimson, as well as seven assists and five rebounds in that contest.

“I think he’s gotten bigger, stronger, more fit and worked on his three point shooting,” head coach Steve Donahue observed. “I think he did that toward the end of last year, he had a great last weekend.”

Although the 6-0 guard from Buffalo is only a sophomore, he will have to fill a leadership role on the young team this season.

“He’s a silent assassin,” Carroll said. “He’s not a very loud and emotional player. You won’t even realize it, but [suddenly] he’s scored 15, 20 points. He scores from different angles and places on the court.”

“Ka’Ron is a no-nonsense guy. You can tell by how he plays, he doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but just plays hard, consistent. [He just has] a real mature way about his business,” Donahue noted. “Last year, as a freshman, you wouldn’t think he played like a freshman, because he’s very mature about his efforts.”

In addition to the off-season improvement and the new role as a leader, Barnes will be sporting a new jersey number this season. While freshman Cody Toppert is wearing Barnes’s number 33 from last year, Barnes will be donning a number 12 uniform. The switch is to honor his father, Donald, who wore 12 in high school but then was drafted into the Navy, ending his college hoop dreams.

“I figured I’ll wear number 12 in college since he couldn’t,” Barnes said. “Off the court, I’d say I’m real close to my family, and I look up to them before anybody else.”

While Barnes is looking up to his kin, the rest of the Ivy League might end up looking up to him. His goal this season is to win the Ivy championship, of course. And he will be a big part of the Red’s push toward the crown.

“I expect Ka’Ron to continue to improve on the season he had last year,” Carroll said.

“Day in and day out, for us to be good, he’s going to have to give a consistent scoring effort,” Donahue said.

Barnes and his partner in the backcourt, senior Wallace Prather, are focused on the goal of climbing up the Ivy ladder.

“When we’re out there on the court,” Barnes says, “and it’s time to step it up, and I give him that look — [eye to eye contact] — we need to step it up. You look at me, I’m like, yeah, I might be messing up, it’s time to step it up.”

“It’s not any words exchanged,” responds Prather. “We just look at each other. It’s just that communication which we let each other know right then and there, that it’s time to do what we gotta do.”

Archived article by Alex Fineman