Barnes goes from garbage time to quality time

In the first 22 games of the season, Barnes averaged less than one point per contest.

Paul Cordes

After finishing her senior year at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Jordan Barnes prepared to depart for Winthrop University to play basketball.

Little did she know that three years later, she would be playing for Minnesota’s women’s basketball team.

Barnes played one semester of basketball for the Eagles in South Carolina before she realized the fit wasn’t right for her and returned to Minnesota to start taking classes.

After two years away from the court, Barnes decided to contact coach Pam Borton to see if there was a chance she could get back into the action.

“I asked Pam if she would be willing to consider taking me on as a part of the team,” she said. “We talked and decided it would be a great fit.”

And the consensus so far is that the fit for Barnes is a good one.

Barnes worked out with the team in the spring and began the season mainly as a practice player, earning a minute or two per game and filling in where she could.

But as the season progressed, Borton said Barnes’ role took on the first of many eventual changes.

“Whether you’re a freshman or a junior, you have to adjust to the different role changes that you have thrown at you during the course of the year,” Borton said. “At the beginning of the season, it was to be a practice player and to make us better in practice; then, through her hard work and dedication, she started earning herself some minutes.”

But Barnes’ role on the court was still limited on game day as she watched the majority of the games from the bench.

A collision between an Iowa player and Gophers senior guard Kelly Roysland changed all that.

Barnes started three of the four games, averaging 26 minutes a game and scoring a combined 22 points while Roysland sat on the bench with a broken collarbone.

In the 22 games prior to Roysland’s departure, Barnes averaged just eight minutes of play and less than one point per game.

Sophomore guard Emily Fox, who also took a leading role during Roysland’s stint on the bench, said Barnes has been around basketball for a while and has been a great leader when her team needed her to be.

“She was presented a great opportunity and she ran with it,” Fox said. “She stepped up defensively and offensively and really just brought a little bit of a spark out there for us.”

And despite Roysland’s return from her injury, Barnes is still seeing quality playing time.

In the last two games, Barnes has averaged 13.5 minutes on the floor and racked up a combined 10 points. She said even though she isn’t seeing as many minutes as she was, she is going to continue to step up and do what she has to do to help her team win.

“My mentality has been to work hard and get better regardless of what is going on,” she said. “I just want to play well and as hard as I can whether I’m playing two minutes a game or 15.”

With her increased production and opportunities on the court, Barnes continues to gain valuable experience, which will be important as she will be one of two seniors on the team next year.

Borton said Barnes has done all that is asked of her and then some. And as long as Barnes continues to improve, work hard and stay dedicated to her team, she’ll continue to play an important role for Minnesota.

“We have always had a lot of confidence in her, especially because she’s had a lot of consistency on the floor,” Borton said. “She exemplifies what Minnesota basketball is all about with her work ethic, her toughness, her dedication and her commitment.”