Gertrude Stein once said, “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” Somehow, that seems relevant.
When I chose a photo of Paris Horne for the cover of the Torch’s annual Courtside magazine way back in December, I had no idea he would become the player he has become.
Though I should’ve known, because the Red Storm told me. Before the team ever stepped on the floor this season, I asked its players who they thought would be the biggest surprise in 2008-09. Johnnie after Johnnie inevitably replied, “Paris.”
They were right. Whether or not anyone finds this as a surprise anymore, here are the categories that Paris currently leads his teammates in: points(393), points per game (14.3), field goal attempts (319) and makes (149), 3-pointer attempts (136) and makes (48), 3-point percentage (.353), and steals (45).
Just last night, his 17 points and five rebounds were team-leading tallies in the Storm’s 87-58 loss to Syracuse.
But although the numbers don’t lie, they also don’t tell the whole story. There is a part of Paris’ game that there are no statistics for. Faster than his rise to the top of the Red Storm stat columns, Paris has quickly become the Storm’s most exciting player.
Game after game his on-the-court energy has provided the Storm with a special kind of spark. If there is a point in the game where a big play needs to be made, it’s going to be made by Paris, if it’s going to be made at all.
His dunks have been known to send the student section scrambling (and, obviously, chanting Air Horne repeatedly) and his swats have been so much bigger than seem possible from his 185 pound frame. He gets up and down the court better than any other Johnnie and goes after loose balls and errant passes harder, too.
Believe it or not, the Red Storm had a chance to beat Duke on Feb. 19 at the Garden.
And they may have done just that if they had Paris on the court in the closing minutes of what had become a seven-point game against the Blue Devils. But, the sophomore guard had fouled out and the Red Storm had no shot. There was no one on the court to make a big play, a job that lately can only be trusted to Paris.
We all know that, excluding free MetroCards and movie tickets, there have been few reasons to go see the Red Storm this season. They have been expectedly disappointing and haven’t supplied their fans with a real memorable moment since the Notre Dame upset.
Forget whether or not Norm’s excuses have been valid and don’t bother trying to figure out how much impact injuries have had on this team’s win-loss record. In the simplest terms, this has been a tough team to watch.
But Paris Horne’s energetic play has kept many Storm faithful sane. He has been something to watch, when most cannot even bear to look.