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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Horne knows it’s his year

Jamelle Horne. UA vs. NAU. November 14, 2008.
Jamelle Horne. UA vs. NAU. November 14, 2008.

Senior year, where did time go?

“”That’s what I’m sayin’,”” said Jamelle Horne, the lone senior leftover from the Great Recession era of Arizona basketball.

To call Horne a leftover from the O’Neill-Pennell-Miller head coaching stagger would be unfair. Leftover implies being carried along in a supportive manner with open arms.

Horne hasn’t been carried. He’s gutted and survived this one himself.

He’s survived freshman year, was frequently cussed out and all-but-permanently benched by interim coach Kevin O’Neill.

He’s survived sophomore year as the average fan’s scapegoat after committing crushing last-second half-court fouls — twice! — against the Univeristy of Alabama, Birmingham and USC that rendered everybody speechless both times.

He’s survived junior year, learning a third system in as many seasons with five fabulous freshmen slowly chopping away at his playing time.

Any leftover would’ve been scrapped by now — and not even Horne himself can sugarcoat that.

“”It’s nothing new that I take games off, or I take plays off and it’s like, ‘Why aren’t you playing as hard as you can?'”” Horne said. “”After a lot of film and talk with coach Miller, that’s just not going to be an option this year.

“”It’s either ‘You do or you don’t,’ if you want to play. And I understand that.””

The senior admitted it, and that’s the first step to solving anything.

The second step? Talking about it. During the offseason, Miller had deep heart-to-heart conversations with the senior.

“”They were honest, they were upfront and they were demanding,”” Horne said. “”They all demanded not only the way I play and the way I approach things, but grades, coming to see him more, that they were going to be here and that was a great feeling and that’s exactly what I did this summer.””

For any athlete to reveal that much about his situation is a rarity. Today’s athletes know the dangers of saying too much — or even the truth for that matter — and how viral their words and self-criticism can become taken out of context.

But for Horne, who has always been an honest quote, to mention these personal conversations with Miller & Co. shows maturity and realization that, well, this is it.

“”I wanted to make sure that moving forward with our program, that it made sense for him to want to be here as a senior,”” Miller said. “”We had several important talks in the spring to make sure we were all on the same page. We asked Jamelle to do a number of different things and he’s done everything. So far so good.””

I asked Horne whether it was difficult buying into the system last year having a third coach in as many years.

“”Oh, oh yeah,”” Horne said while nodding.


Horne then went on to talk about the difficulty of learning the different terminologies of new coaches.””It’s really tough to understand what’s going on in practice, and you get to the game and it’s even worse. This year there’s less questions and just getting stuff done.

“”A guy messes up,”” Horne added, “”and we say, ‘Don’t worry, we went through this last year.'””

So that’s what it comes down to: A little continuity and familiarity in Horne’s diet. It’s hard to imagine many other players who have experienced the extreme ups and downs both on and off the court that Horne endured. His freshman and sophomore year media days included opening statements from Lute Olson — who ended up never coaching Horne. Last year Miller overhauled everything.

This summer Horne stuck around with a clear future. He weighs in at 220 lbs — up from 208 a year ago — thanks to rigorous off-season conditioning. Miller said, “”I can’t say anything but positives in terms of describing what he’s done from the end of last year.””

Off the court, UA junior Kyle Fogg said the team wants to spend more time together, whether it’s bowling or going to the movies — a sharp contrast to last season.

“”We’re more brothers this year than we were last year,”” Horne said. “”We had a long summer together.””

Now that the comfort level is there, maybe the sense of urgency will follow.

— Bryan Roy is an interdisciplinary studies senior. He can be reached at

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