February 13, 2004

Best in the League

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The 20th leading scorer in the nation. The Ivy League leader in points (20.8), assists (4.9), and steals (2.2). 1,247 career points. Shooting 47 percent from the field in Ivy games. The heart and soul of men’s basketball at Cornell.

He has the recognition and he’s proven his skill, but senior co-captain Ka’Ron Barnes isn’t satisfied. Not even close.

“I can still do more,” said Barnes, as he prepared for the biggest weekend of his Ivy League career. “I can be more active throughout the game; make sure that I stay consistent.”

A 6-1 guard with lightning for a first step, Barnes has been relentless in his pursuit of the Ivy League title. He spends any free hours honing his skills on the hardwood of Newman Arena, and just like the saying goes, is the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave.

“He’s exceeded my expectations,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “I thought he was a good player his first few years, but he’s vastly improved in all areas this season.”

“I’ve become a better shooter,” said Barnes. “I can score when I have to, and get other guys the ball when they’re in a good position to score.”

And score they have. Barnes is the first to say that the Red’s recent success has little to do with him and more to do with how the entire team has played together.

“We’re a tight bunch,” said Barnes. “I know guys are going to look up to me, being a senior, and I try to set an example. But we’re all working at the same goal.”

Barnes’s seasoned maturity is evident in every step he takes on the court. He keeps a level head and a calm demeanor, knowing that his actions will influence the four players around him.

“If a call doesn’t go our way or something, he realizes that how he reacts affects the rest of the team,” said Donahue. “If he’s okay, the team is okay.”

The stoic floor general, Barnes isn’t as vocal as one might expect a captain to be, something that his coach has tried to change.

“I’d always like him to be a little more vocal, and he’s worked a lot at it this season,” said Donahue. “He doesn’t say much, but when he does, his teammates respond to it. They respect what he says.”

When the Red takes the floor against Princeton and Penn this weekend, Barnes will be in the position he’s dreamed of since 2000. For the first time in his career, Barnes will have the honor of defending Cornell’s first-place conference ranking. His coach and his teammates will give Barnes everything they can during the rest of the Ivy schedule, knowing full well that this is the senior’s last hurrah.

“I want this championship for Ka’Ron,” said Donahue. “He’s played every game that I’ve been the head coach. The other guys know that this is it for him, and they’re motivated by that.”

“All that matters is bringing home a championship and getting recognition for this school,” Barnes said. “It’s all I want to do.”

Archived article by Per Ostman