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January 16, 2013

Freshman Je’lon Hornbeak learning what it means to be a true point guard

NORMAN — There’s nothing wrong with Je’lon Hornbeak’s vision, but Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger constantly asks his freshman point guard what he’s seeing. The question is asked a lot because it’s the melding process between a coach and his extension on the court.

The pair watch hours worth of game video, with the goal being that the 19-year-old guard comprehend the chaos on the floor the exact same way as his 60-year-old head coach.

“I look at all the things that I miss. You see things like a pass I could’ve made or I could have driven this guy a little harder or I could have shot it. There’s always different things I wasn’t thinking of because it was happening so fast,” Hornbeak said. “Once you look at it on film, you think to improve on it and keep an eye out for what’s happening.”

Every college point guard goes through this process. It makes their freshman season the most difficult of any player on the roster. Some pick it up by the middle of their first season. Others need several years before everything settles. Some never sync in. The ability to control the pace of a game, to swiftly recognize a defense has changed and instantly understand the risk versus reward of a pass doesn’t have an exact formula.

The game they played in high school and AAU circuit landed them a scholarship. However, they must adjust from being a basketball player — a scorer — to the one that runs the team. Kruger, who is in his 27th season as a college basketball head coach, admits it’s not a job many freshmen can handle.

“Ideally, you wouldn’t plan on that, typically,” he said. “Je’lon has a great feel for the game and that helps. He has a good feel for what’s going on.”

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