Finding a Home: Adia Barnes

Preseason workouts can put a strain on players, especially the ones fighting for a roster spot. Just ask Adia Barnes. The four-year WNBA veteran sported a black eye during mini-camp, the result of physical play. Thankfully, the shiner wasnít for naught. Barnes battled for three weeks to earn one of the Stormís coveted 11 roster spots.

ďItís been long, itís been tough,Ē she said. ďItís been mentally and physically challenging, but thatís what itís all about. Thatís what makes [basketball] fun.Ē

As Storm fans get more familiar with Barnes, theyíll find a player who relies on her grit and determination. The 5-foot-11 forward has made a living battling taller and larger players inside. At the University of Arizona, Barnes played out of position at the power forward spot. Still, she went on to lead the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding. She was named the Pac-10 player of the year in 1998 after leading her team to the Sweet 16.

Barnes has used that same determination in her pursuit of a WNBA career. After graduation Sacramento drafted her in the fourth round. But unable to latch on permanently, she took her skills overseas, playing basketball in Israel. Teammates Semeka Randall and Simone Edwards along with assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg also spent time there.

She credits her experience abroad and her roundabout journey in the WNBA (sheís played for three teams) for making the Storm. While the path has been rocky, it has made everything more worthwhile.

ďItís been a tough road. My back has been against the wall a few times. Iíve worked hard and itís brought me to where I am today,Ē Barnes said. ďIíve been through the worst and I have nothing to lose. Itís only sweeter now because I had to work for it.Ē

Competing will always be a trademark for Barnes. She hates to lose whether itís a hoops game or a card game. ďI hate to lose in cards. Itís awful. I have to tell myself, itís only a game,Ē she said. ďBut I think [my competitiveness] is a positive.Ē

Coach Linn Dunn will play Barnes at her more natural small forward position, a critical one for the Storm. There, Barnes can play inside as well as supply the outside jumper to stretch defenses. She will also defend some of the top players in the league. Barnes will find herself matched up with all-stars like New Yorkís Vickie Johnson and Houstonís Sheryl Swoopes.

She welcomes the challenge.

ďIím not going to back down from anyone,Ē Barnes said. ďI donít care who they are.Ē