It was just a meaningless scrimmage last Saturday night: one half of the Cornell roster versus the other half. This was supposed to be merely an exhibition game — a showcase of the 2001-2002 players. Apparently, no one informed junior forward Jake Rohe.
Midway through the game, the ball came loose near the sideline at halfcourt. Out of nowhere, the 6-6 Rohe sprinted crosscourt and dove towards the ball as it trickled out of bounds. The Red team retained possession, but Rohe won the appreciation and applause of those in attendance.
Fact is, Rohe always plays with that reckless abandon. Be it summer league, practice, Red-White scrimmage, or Ivy League regular season game, he is constantly throwing his body around.
However, Rohe wasn’t always a big contributor on the Red. After helping Santa Margarita Catholic high school win the California Interscholastic Federation title, he struggled his first year on East Hill. In limited playing time, the forward managed to average just 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds per contest.
Everything changed when head coach Steve Donahue came aboard before last season.
“I think he dedicated himself when I came in last year,” Donahue said. “Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve seen nothing but great commitment from him: working hard in the offseason everyday, doing everything he can to make himself a better player.”
As a result of his hard work, Rohe earned significant minutes last season as he posted good numbers. He was fourth on the team in scoring (7.7 PPG), and second in rebounding (5.6 RPG). In addition, he was the only Cornell player to start in all 27 games last year.
“He started every game last year because he deserved it. He worked really hard,” Donahue added.
Coming off a season in which he was one of the Ivy League’s most improved players, Rohe did not become complacent. Rather, this past offseason, he did what he had always does; he worked his hardest, playing a 16 game schedule in a summer league in Los Angeles that lasted for eight weeks.
“My parents always taught me to work hard,” he said, a lesson he seems to have carried well into his collegiate career. “The harder you work, the more you get to show for it.”
Undoubtedly, he will have more to show for his diligence. Already adept around the basket, the forward will be asked to play on the perimeter a bit more this year.
“I worked a lot on shooting because it’s obvious there’s a lot of shooting in this offense. [I worked on] guard skills and playing the perimeter,” he acknowledged.
Apparently, his teammates have noticed the im-provement.
“Jake’s improved a lot on the perimeter, handling the ball, and making decisions,” senior co-captain Pete Carroll said.
Sopho-more guard Ka’Ron Barnes added, “He’s making better decisions. He’s more calm and more steady. He’s matured.”
With seven impressionable freshmen on the team, Rohe will also be looked upon to provide leadership and stability.
“I try to be a leader on and off the court,” he remarked. “I lead by example and not so much by words. I play as hard as I can every time I go out and hopefully good things will happen.”
If the entire Cornell squad embraces this motto, good things will happen and the W’s will pile up.
Archived article by Alex Ip