Most players have a superstition, a quirky ritual that has developed over the years. Senior Karen Force is no exception. The three-time captain is out on the court long before other players, honing her skills and soothing her nerves. It’s this combination of superstition, leadership, and hard work that have made Force the player she is today.
Force is undoubtedly a leader on the stat sheet. She led the team in points, assists, 3-pointers, and steals last season. But she has also developed into a vocal leader on the court as well, and that will be essential to the team’s success.
“I like to play the point because the ball’s in your hands, and you see everything, and it gives you the opportunity to be a leader,” said Force. “You call the plays, you’ve got a lot of thought processes going on all the time, you need to see things from other people’s positions all the time, and being in that kind of position, and being able to so many things at the same time is awesome.”
Playing the point puts Force in control of the offense, and she is also one of the best shooters on the team. Her impact doesn’t stop at the perimeter. If you glance at last season’s stats, there is one that jumps out at you — free throw attempts. Force reached the line almost 100 times more than her closest teammate.
“I think our offensive set this year allows more penetration from my position, and that just develops into me getting fouled more often in shooting situations. I think I was just more aggressive this past season,” remarked Force.
Driving to the inside is one of the things Force likes best when she’s up on offense, and she will be able to do that frequently this season.
“I really like to penetrate, it’s a lot of fun, whether you penetrate full up, penetrate all the way for a lay-up or a dish, I get juiced from stuff like that.”
With the new coaching staff coming in last season, Force had to learn new offensive sets in addition to filling the void in the backcourt left by Breean Walas ’02 and Do Stevens ’02. She did so in remarkable fashion, becoming the first junior in Cornell history to be named to the All-Ivy first team. Force was the league’s fifth-leading scorer, with 15.1 points per game, including 17.9 ppg in conference games.
In Smith, Force has a mentor who knows her position better than anyone, as Smith was one of the best point guards in the country in during her college career. Because of this, Smith is tough on the point guards, but that has helped Force improve her game a lot.
“Being point guard to point guard, it helps me a lot because she’s gone through a lot herself, so she can help me learn from what she learned,” said Force.
Force had the added challenge of recovering from knee surgery over the summer. Despite this, she comes into the season fully ready to lead the team to further success this year.
“There’s still ways you can improve, whether it be in the weight room or stand-still things on the court, but I’ve done everything I can to improve,” said Force.
With the start of the season approaching, Force is looking forward to seeing the hard work the team has put in pay off on the court.
“How many wins you want, the championship, you have to build to that, and I think we’ve got the mindset and the passion to do that. Day by day, we’ll get there, and I’d love to see that progression. That would be awesome.”
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach