The Japan Times will be featuring periodic interviews with players in the bj-league, Japan’s first professional basketball circuit. Steve Horne of the Takamatsu Five Arrows is the subject of this week’s profile.

Position: Guard
Age: 27
Ht: 195 cm
Wt: 83 kg
Hometown: Pensacola, Fla.
College: Montana
Season averages: 15.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 25 games.

Have you felt comfortable since making the switch from the Takamatsu Five Arrows to Saitama this season? And have you adjusted to the Broncos’ style of play?

I had actually been real comfortable in Takamatsu. Last year, I came off the bench and brought energy to the team (12.1 points per game).

This year, at Saitama, they need a lot more, and that is kind of what the situation I wanted to be in, the situation I am used to being in. I am just trying to do that with this team.

In your own words, what is Saitama’s style of play on offense?

Push the ball if you have it, but control offense and have everybody involved. Coach (David) Benoit and (assistant) coach (Kazuto) Aono have great plays. We are just figuring out how to execute games, control the game and control the tempo, so every game we have the chance to win.

We have lost a lot of close games, but we are a lot better than our record (12-16 through Jan. 31) shows. When everybody gets healthy, I think everybody plays a part on his team.

Where have you played before coming to Japan?

I attended Pensacola Junior College and then went to the University of Montana. At the pro level, I’ve played minor league ball in the ABA, Canada and in Alabama, and on a basketball tour to China. Then, in 2006-07, I suited up for Karhut Kauhajoen in Finland and we won the (first-division) title that year, the year before I arrived in Takamatsu.

How would you summarize your thoughts on your pro career thus far?

Overall it’s been pretty good. Most of the teams I’ve been on have been winning. . . . You learn from it and get better.

What has been your biggest thrill as a basketball player?

I think my most memorable moment would have to be winning the championship in Finland. Being able to win something and be No. 1 in that place was a good feeling — just knowing all the hard work paid off and all that it was about.

That’s always something I can remember. . . I’m still in contact with those guys (ex-teammates) to this day.

I had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the championship, and I remember just the feeling to win it all was a great feeling.

I’ve had some games where I’ve scored 40 points, and hit a lot of buzzer-beaters in my time, but just a complete (feeling) to win it all, that was a good feeling for me, to see the reaction from the boosters.

In your own words, how

would you describe the way you play basketball?

About me, I play hard, I play intense, I play with passion and energy, and also I’m a guy that does things to help the team win. I’m more of an up-tempo guy. I like to push the ball, shoot 3s and run the floor.

You played with All-Star power forward Reggie Warren on the Five Arrows and against him in high school in northern Florida, and now he’s your teammate in Saitama. What impact does he bring to the Broncos?

He’s a strong inside guy and he’s a smart player. As a team, I think we will bring it all together at the right time, just playing with passion and energy, like Reggie.

Your coach, David Benoit, now in his second season at the
helm, played under intense, no-nonsense floor boss Jerry Sloan during his time with the Utah Jazz. Is Benoit a relaxed leader on the court, or does his coaching style remind you of Sloan’s?

I think it’s a little bit of both. Coach Benoit is a very smart coach and a player’s coach, which is good, too.

I just try to be a sponge and absorb everything has to say because he has played at the highest level. He’ll teach it, explain it, from what he has done. He’s a new coach, (but) I can see some of the plays from Jerry Sloan, the way we execute them. When it comes to Xs and Os, Benoit is a really good coach and he puts in the work.

He really puts everybody in an equal opportunity to be successful, and he’s learning as we go, which is great.

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