Edane Barton helped the SUNY Potsdam men's basketball program write the latest chapters in its tradition of success. Among a corps of special players, Barton helped the Bears to back-to-back SUNYAC Championships in his three seasons at Potsdam.
Though heavily recruited by then Bears Head Coach Bill Mitchell, Barton started on a path that didn't seem destined for Potsdam. The Spring Valley, N.Y. native headed for Colgate University to study computer science and attempt to earn a spot on the Division I Raiders basketball team.
“The coach didn't guarantee me a spot on the team, but I felt that I was talented enough to play if given the opportunity,” said Barton. “So that's where I went for the first two years. The coach did give me the opportunity, but he was also recruiting someone that played the same position. I never lost hope or heart and I enjoyed playing basketball so I tried out and made the JV team.”
When it appeared that a greater opportunity at Colgate wasn't going to materialize, Barton contacted his high school coach Willie Wesley and told him he'd like to transfer.
“I told him that I definitely wanted to play and he mentioned Potsdam,” Barton said. “He said he'd give the coach a ring. And that's what happened.”
The Bears coaching staff didn't waste the opportunity and quickly scheduled a recruiting visit for Barton.
“I stayed with Junior Clayton and Jim Connelly,” said Barton. “They showed me the facilities and especially the academic aspects because that was something I really cared about. I was studying computer science and I wanted to go into business so I was really interested in the business courses that Potsdam had to offer. I felt very comfortable at Potsdam. The people were extremely nice. I had other places to visit on my schedule, but I enjoyed my visit and everything I saw so I decided to go to Potsdam.”
Barton arrived in the fall of 2003 to join an experienced group of players that had won the SUNYAC regular season title the year before. However, the team was under new leadership. After 12 years, Mitchell left the head coaching position to become a full-time administrator. Current Potsdam Head Coach Sherry Dobbs took the reigns of the team and got off to a fast start. Barton enjoyed playing for Dobbs.
“He was very cool,” Barton said. “I would say a father figure. He was very patient. He tried to understand your situation and you as a person and tried to put you in a situation where you could succeed. It was a great experience learning from him. He was strict, but he always gave you a fair chance. I really appreciated the communication and his openness.”
The Bears were picked second in the SUNYAC preseason poll and were led by a strong group including Clayton, Connolly, Christian Turner and Eldon Harris. Potsdam trudged out to a 5-6 start, but then caught fire in January. The Bears won 10 of their next 14 games to earn a home first round playoff spot.
Potsdam smothered Buffalo State 59-45 in Maxcy Hall to advance to the SUNYAC Semifinals in Utica. Barton notched a game-high 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Bears to a 62-48 win over Plattsburgh. He scored another contest-best 22 points and totaled eight boards in the Championship as Potsdam dispatched Brockport 84-76. Barton was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player as the Bears clinched their first tournament championship since 1987 and NCAA Tournament berth since 1990.
Barton posted a double-double (13pts, 12reb) in a 60-58 victory at Penn State-Behrend in the first round of the national tournament the following week. The Bears run ended in the second round with a defeat to the College of Wooster, but the team finished the season with a 19-11 mark and a lot of key returnees. Barton earned Honorable Mention All-SUNYAC recognition after averaging 12.7 points-per-game and 7.2 rebounds-per-game.
It was his teammates' competitiveness with each other that helped them become better basketball players.
“Everyday in practice it was always a battle,” said Barton. “That brought out the best in us because we always wanted to win. We always wanted to compete and it wasn't just on a game night that we were going to compete. We all wanted to be one to step up on each other and encourage each other. That first year we had a strong team. We had strong personalities that butted heads a lot, but because of that I was really able to excel.”
Barton worked as hard off the court as he did on it. He was a resident advisor each of his three years at Potsdam. Academics didn't come easily to him, but he put in the necessary time and effort to be very successful.
“The same intensity and the same approach I had on the court, I wanted to have in the classroom,” Barton said. “One thing basketball teaches you, is that you have to put in the work. Not just the work, but good quality work. So that's the same thing I did with academics. (Being a student-athlete) definitely teaches you discipline.”
If the Bears success the previous season was a bit of a surprise, everyone saw them coming during the 2004-05 season. Potsdam raced out to a 16-0 start to the season and captured the SUNYAC regular season title with a 23-3 record (14-3 SUNYAC). Barton was named to the All-SUNYAC second team with 10.7 ppg. And 6.9 rpg.
“We tasted a bit of success in the first year and everyone wanted to get back there (NCAA's),” said Barton. “Especially with those guys being seniors. The second year was even more of a battle than the first. It wasn't about making a winning shot or a bucket. It was about spending time with the guys in practice and grueling it out. I remember how we trusted each other. It was second nature to know where people were (on the court) and who to pass it to. Coach Dobbs' system gave us the flexibility to succeed.”
As he had the year before, Barton raised his game in the conference tournament. He scorched Oswego with a game-high 28 points in a 74-61 victory over the Lakers in the semifinals. Potsdam then buried Plattsburgh 83-70 for the title as Barton chipped in 11 points and six rebounds to repeat as the tourney MVP.
In the NCAA Tournament, the Bears edged Salem State in a 74-73 first round overtime thriller in front of a raucous Maxcy Hall crowd. Barton struck for 11 points in the second round as Potsdam eliminated previously unbeaten St. John Fisher, 67-43. The season came to an end with a loss to Rochester in the sectional championship, despite a game-high 20 points from Barton. The Bears finished the season with a 27-4 mark and saw Clayton, Harris, Turner and Connolly graduate.
In 2005-06, the senior was back to lead a much younger and less experienced team. Potsdam battled to a 16-12 record, including a 10-7 SUNYAC mark, falling to Oswego in the conference quarterfinals. Barton averaged a career-best 17.2 ppg. and 9.9 rpg. to finally reach the All-SUNYAC first team. He closed out his Bears career with 1,194 points and is ranked seventh on Potsdam's all-time rebounding list with 707 boards, tied for ninth in scoring average (13.4 ppg) and third in rebounding average (7.9 rpg).
Barton was recognized for his academics as well. In 2006, he was a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor 's Scholar Athlete Award and a member of the Academic All-District Team.
That year, Barton graduated from Potsdam with a bachelor's in business administration. He applied for jobs, but also considered the possibility of continuing his basketball career.
“I had the opportunity to train and go to a team in Holland, but something happened with my Visa and I didn't get it in time,” Barton said. “So they said I was going to have to wait a couple of weeks. When you play college sports you really don't get that opportunity to travel. I was really looking forward to that, so I participated in some international tryouts in Upstate New York, Albany and around the City.”
While he was waiting for his Visa, Barton successfully interviewed for a job with Bloomberg Trading Solutions.
“I brought everything I did into my interview- the hard work, being an RA, playing basketball and academics and they hired me,” said Barton. “I said I'd see how it goes with my visa, but it was really a good position. Looking back I did make the right decision.”
Barton is still with Bloomberg. He's AIM compliance specialist located in London, England. He arrived in the city two years ago and it's been a very positive experience. He enjoys his job, the city and completed his master's degree in management of information systems from Bellevue University this past May. Most importantly, he met Elaine Frederick. Barton and Frederick were engaged on February 24 and are aiming for a Spring 2014 wedding. The only thing that hasn't gone his way was getting tickets to the 2012 Olympics.
“I wanted to go see basketball, but those tickets were gone,” said Barton. “Right outside my window was the Olympic Stadium. So I was close, but not close enough.”
Barton has been as successful professionally and personally as he was on the basketball court. He still plays against his work colleagues occasionally and for now that's a good fit for his busy schedule.
Barton will be inducted into the Bears Hall of Fame this Saturday.