Men’s basketball under new leadership

Jeff Horner behind a podium with a purple curtain behind him, for a press conference
Head coach Jeff Horner joins the Bulldogs after four seasons serving as assistant coach for the University of North Dakota.

Fresh off of a season that led them to their second NCAA Div. II Men’s Basketball Championship tournament appearance in a row and a near-record 13 conference wins, Truman State University welcomes newly appointed head coach Jeff Horner to the men’s basketball program. Horner, a former star point guard for the Div. I University of Iowa from 2002-2006, has since dropped his sneakers for a tenure of coaching. His prior experience includes spending the past four seasons with the University of North Dakota, where he served both as an assistant coach and director of operations since 2014.

“Coach Horner brings his experience from playing at a really high level for a long time,” said assistant coach Pat Sodemann. “With that comes the intensity and competitiveness that has allowed him to be as successful as he was as a player.”

As a player, Horner posted a total of 1,506 career points and secured a spot in the Hawkeye records as the player with the most assists and 3-pointers made at the Big Ten school. Additionally, he was awarded third-team all-Big Ten twice. After finishing his college career with a degree in communication studies and four starting seasons under his belt, he moved to the higher ranks, playing professionally in the United States and Europe with teams such as Bree, Belgium, Paris and Iowa Energy.

Horner then made the transition to coaching in 2010 by joining the staff at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, as head coach for their varsity boys’ basketball program. He led the team to two state tournament appearances, where they landed a runner-up spot in 2014.

In 2015, he made the move to Grand Forks, North Dakota, to work with the players of the UND, where he was a program director for a year before being promoted to an assistant coaching position. During his time at UND, the team made program history in the 2016-17 season by making it to the NCAA tournament and winning the Big Sky Conference tournament.

Horner now joins the Bulldogs, and the team has already moved into action. Over the summer, the program took their skills on the road for the 2018 Bahamas Tour. They swept the competition with wins over the New Providence Basketball Association All-Stars, IBA Bahamas Elite, and Star Sports Basketball. The sweep only added to the team’s eagerness to see what this upcoming season holds.

“Horner is definitely different from [former head coach Chris] Foster, but it’s an exciting change,” said redshirt senior guard Taurin Hughes. “The Bahamas tour helped us get a more established relationship with him and the new coaching staff, so I’m excited to see what this year has in store for us.”

Hughes said the team looks forward to getting back on the court this upcoming season with Horner, with an aim to improve and make it even further than last season. The non-conference schedule has the Bulldogs facing some tough competition, including Northwest Missouri State University, NCAA champions from 2017. Despite the difficulty, the Bulldogs are willing to face the challenge.

“We have an extremely challenging non-conference schedule against a lot of really good programs,  some of those being on the road, which brings its own set of challenges,” said Sodemann. “It will force our guys to step up their level of play before conference play even begins. It will definitely prepare our guys for game in February and March.”