Kevin Horne was a linebacker on the Robinson football team last fall, but Robinson Coach Tom Tufts believes Horne's background in basketball may have more to do with his emergence as a top long-stick midfielder on the Rams' lacrosse team.

"He'll pick up a groundball on a faceoff and pass it to a teammate," Tufts said, "and then he'll stand and set a perfect pick. That's something I never had to teach him, but it's something he had already picked up."

Horne, in just his third year of organized lacrosse, has become one of the Rams' key players in the midfield. Horne has quickly improved and has the size -- 5 feet 11, 175 pounds -- and speed that are perfect for the position, Tufts said.

"He's just a natural for the position," Tufts said. "You have to have the ability to get up and down the field. . . . He has shown as much improvement as a player as anyone I've ever had."

Led by Horne as well as senior attackman David O'Quinn (Hobart signee), the Rams are 8-3 and the top seed in the AAA Patriot District playoffs, which started last night.

While lacrosse is often compared to football -- with the hard-hitting, the pads, the big players -- the sport's offensive structures show more resemblance to basketball.

When Tufts, an all-American at the University of Massachusetts in the 1960s, was the freshman coach at Army, the Cadets' then-basketball coach, Bobby Knight, brought to Tufts' attention two basketball recruits who weren't going to make the basketball team but might be of use to the lacrosse team.

One of them, Mike Griswold, was chosen all-American in 1972.

"If I had a choice between a top football player and a top basketball player, I'd take the basketball player," Tufts said.

Robinson's Kevin Horne is excelling at lacrosse, partly by bringing lessons learned from playing basketball.