Horner Inspired By Steve Nash

Iowa Guard Jeff Horner hopes that the offseason work he's put in leads to similar success attained by Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash. Horner, like his teammates, has turned over a new leaf in terms of diet and exercise. HN.com caught up with Horner at his PTL debut Monday and asked him about being motivated by Nash, how he feels about Dee Brown's return, if he considers himself a point guard or an off guard, and more in this premium Q&A.

How have things been going since the end of last season?

A lot of tough workouts. We've been working hard heading into this summer. We're going to play Prime Time or scrimmage during the night and get workouts in during the day. Everybody is really positive and we know we've got everybody coming back. So, everybody is pretty upbeat about next year.

What was the focus of your individual workouts?

Just working on coming off of the dribble still; working on pick and roll. Coach Neal has been working with me a lot with that. Hopefully next year I think Brunner and I can run a pretty good two-man game. Also, we're been working in getting in shape.

We talked about Steve Nash being in probably the best shape of anyone in the NBA and that's why he can do what he can do. Hopefully I can get in really good shape and just play a lot of minutes.

You've always been in pretty good shape and played a lot of minutes. What's the difference now?

I finally bought into right. I'm not a very good eater at all. I'm a very picky eater. I finally started to change some things. I can definitely feel it when I play.

We're you a meat and potatoes guy that didn't like veggies?

No, I was a pizza and hamburger guy. I'm finally starting to change that. I'm getting up and eating breakfast every day. I'm getting at least three meals a day in. I can tell already that it's helping.

In what ways has it manifested itself?

I can just tell how I can run longer and a longer distance. My chest is just a lot more open. I've lost a little bit of weight, too. Hopefully we can keep the weight down. I've been working on jumping off of one foot, too, and trying to slide through people. That's helped me out a lot, too.

Do you consider yourself a point guard still? You seemed to play off of the ball quite a bit when Mike came into the starting lineup and now Tony Freeman looks like he'll get some minutes.

It doesn't matter to me. Whatever I have to do to help our team win. That's all that I want. If coach asks me before the season where I want to be, well, I like the ball in my hands. But if coach wants me at the two, I'll go to the two. We'll just see what happens. One thing that I've got that's good is my passing skills. We'll just see.

How is your defense coming along?

In my sophomore year, my defense went back from my freshman year. This year, I tried to pick it up a little bit more. That just all goes with being in shape and wanting to play defense. Next year will be a lot better.

How much hungrier are you after that tough loss to Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament?

We're very hungry. It was tough because we knew that if they shot the ball well that we'd be in a little bit of trouble. They were just so athletic. It wasn't a very good matchup for us. But that's just the way that it goes. We'll just come back and hopefully next year will be better.

Struggling in the Big Ten again probably cost you guys the chance to avoid teams like Cincinnati in the NCAAs. How important is it for you guys to finally put it all together in conference this year?

We definitely let a few slip there. We let Michigan come in our place and beat us, which never should have happened. We played terrible at Ohio State. What this team needs to get is how to play with that high intensity the whole game coming into every game no matter who it is. You just can't play well against a team like Illinois and then drop your guard against a team like Penn State or Northwestern or something like that.

Are you happy that Dee Brown is coming back?

The better the competition, the happier I am. So, I'm glad that he's coming back. I wish him the best. If he would have made an NBA team, that would have been great. But he's coming back and that's just another guy we're going to have to deal with.

Do you realize the importance of this season as it's your last as a Hawkeye? Finally, there is no more next year after this one.

This is it. That's why we've been working hard and eating right. I wish I would have done that earlier in my career. This is it for the seniors. We know this is it. We want to come in with the best and just play hard all of the time.

This will determine your legacy, right?

Yeah. This is the one that everybody remembers. So, we've got to make it a good one. We definitely have the team to do that.

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