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Guard shoots away slumps

MU’s Jason Horton spent the summer in the gym striving for consistency in his jump shot.
Sunday, October 1, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:56 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

Missouri guard Jason Horton knows the numbers. And shooting 34.6 percent from the floor simply isn’t good enough for a starting point guard. Horton knows that more than anyone.

“A couple of times I got down on myself,” Horton said. “So when I was going through slumps, my confidence would be down. But now I’m not really going to worry about it. I’m just going to keep shooting because I know I put in the work.”

Horton’s spent much of his summer in the gym. His primary goal was to improve his shooting. Last season, the Tigers’ point guard shot 30.7 percent from 3-point range and 50 percent from the free-throw line. His form often changed from shot to shot, leading to his lack of success.

Horton said he knew in order to make his shot more consistent, it needed some work. Over the summer, he said he took anywhere from 200-250 shots per day.

“I’m trying to shoot it the same way every time,” Horton said. “As long as I have that consistency, I’m not going to worry about whether it goes in or not. If I shoot the same way every time, I’ll be fine.

“I know I’m not going to knock it down every time. I’m just trying to limit the slumps.”

It’s that consistency that has Horton confident enough to take the open shot, a confidence he often lacked last season. At the Tigers’ open scrimmage on Saturday morning, Horton’s improvement showed. He hit his first three 3-point attempts, two with a hand in his face.

“Now they’re going to have to honor my jump shot as well as my drive,” Horton said. “I think a lot of people just used to defend my drive and passing. Now that I’ve been working on adding another dimension to my game, they’re going to have to extend more.”

If defenses choose not to extend, Horton said he has the ability to hit the open shot. If they choose to play tight on him, then Horton can use what he calls his best attributes.

“It’s going to make what I do best, like getting in the lane, a lot easier,” Horton said.

And getting into the lane means other defenders will have to play help defense, leaving some of Horton’s teammates open on the perimeter.

“He can penetrate and dish. He’s so fast. That’s what he’s good at,” forward Glen Dandridge said. “They’ll have to step up on him. If he gets by, that could help me.”

Once he gets into the lane, Horton will have to rely on his decision-making, the other aspect of his game he worked on in the offseason. Last season, Horton’s assist-to-turnover ratio was a respectable 1.66-to-1. But this season, he hopes to improve on that by cutting down his turnovers.

“A lot of times when you get tired, your decision-making really goes south, so I’ve really been working on my decision-making,” Horton said. “That’s really important, and I think I had decent assist-to-turnover ratio, but it could be much better.”

While decision-making skills are something that can come with maturity and age, successful shooting comes with practice and repetition. Horton has put in the time to improve his shot this offseason, although admittedly he hasn’t always done that in the past.

“I’m a lot more confident because I know I didn’t put in the work before,” he said. “You can’t help but be confident when you put in the work.

“A lot of people get confidence from knowing they can shoot. I get confidence from putting in the work.”


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