Jaren Hornbeak’s perfectionist nature always reminds him there is work to be done.
Despite averaging 21.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists through the Greenwood boys basketball team’s first seven games, the 6-foot senior guard understands he remains a work in progress.
Scoring isn’t a problem. Playing defense? It’s an area where he wants to improve.
“I’m not having a bad season, but I’m not where I want to be at this point,” said Hornbeak, who has scored no less than 16 points in a game during the Woodmen’s 2-5 start. “I’m OK with (averaging) 21 points a game, but I’m not as efficient as I would like to be.”
Given all the responsibility Hornbeak shoulders — leading the team in the three main categories as well as steals (1.3 spg) — his feeling is he needs to do better at setting teammates up for higher quality shots.
Greenwood, which plays Saturday night at Mid-State Conference and Johnson County rival Whiteland, takes the floor averaging 57.1 points per game while allowing 58.4. The latter is a number Hornbeak feels he can help lower.
“My coaches get on me about defense, and that’s the part I need to stay focused on the most,” Hornbeak said. “I do feel I’m putting myself in better positions than I was last year, though. You have to value stopping the other team as much as you value scoring yourself.
“You can’t take any plays off.”
Greenwood coach Bruce Hensley has been preaching this message to Woodmen players for 25 years.
“Good offensive players, sometimes they get in foul trouble because they’re not locked defensively the way they should be,” Hensley said. “It is very rare to have your best offensive player be your best defensive player, but most coaches will tell you that player is capable.”
Hensley believes Hornbeak is one such player.
Hornbeak’s diligence both in the weight-room and on the basketball court during the offseason months helped add dimensions to the player who, as a junior, led the Woodmen to victories in seven of their final 11 regular-season games.
“As much as anything, Jaren has been more aggressive at the offensive end,” Hensley said. “Being a senior, he’s a kid who has spent time in the weightroom, and that gives players confidence, as much as anything. It’s really increased his shooting range, too, and he’s very capable of hitting those shots.
“That should help his ability to dribble-penetrate.”
Typically, opponent’s defensive game plans are structured to make Hornbeak as ineffective as possible when Greenwood has the ball. By now, he has dribbled into the teeth of practically every zone, double-team and chaser-based look imaginable.
Yet the senior has managed to convert 50 of 119 (.420) field goal attempts, 22 of 61 3-pointers (.360) and toe the free throw stripe 37 times. Junior post Spencer Isenthal is a distant second on the team with 13 free throw attempts.
“I think the work in the weightroom does help, to be honest with you. I think I’m rebounding the ball better and finishing through contact,” Hornbreak said. “There’s a lot of pushing on the court. You have to be able to hold your ground.”
Not visible in Woodmen boxscores is Hornbeak’s leadership. He serves as team co-captain with 5-9 junior guard Alex Rapp. His personality and work ethic all but melt away whatever statistical discrepancies might exist between he and his teammates.
“Jaren has got great people skills, there’s no doubt about that,” Hensley said. “He’s very popular at school. Our players all understand that Jaren’s the guy, and he’s earned that right.”