MWC coach likes what UW is doing with Jackson

For the last two games Wyoming interim men’s basketball coach Fred Langley has brought sophomore guard and leading scorer Desmar Jackson off the bench.

The biggest reason is to protect him from getting into early foul trouble in UW’s more aggressive style of defense. Still, Jackson fouled out of last Wednesday’s 80-70 loss at Utah and was saddled with foul trouble in the Cowboys’ 77-67 win over TCU on Feb. 12. Still, Jackson averaged 16 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in those contests, and enters Wednesday’s home game with Air Force averaging 15.2 points and five rebounds per game.

Langley will continue to bring Jackson off the bench, and one other Mountain West Conference coach likes that plan.

“I like having that guy that can come in and score that people have to prepare for,” Utah coach Jim Boylen said. “The thing about Desmar Jackson is you have to prepare for him. You have to prepare for him to come in and change the pace of the game and score the ball. A lot of times you might start your best defender, and now you might have to keep him in longer or substitute a little differently to get your best perimeter defender on (Jackson). Those are the kinds of decisions you have to make when you have a guy like that coming off the bench.

“I think he’s one of the most talented guys in the league. He’s still a young, developing player and can really get it going. But I’ve always liked that. I think it makes you harder to guard. If you get down early you have a guy that can come in and get you back in it. If you get up early you have a guy that can come in and extend the lead.”

Boylen, in his fourth year at Utah, knows all about this. He’s brought many of his leading scorers off the bench in recent years, including guard Carlon Brown last season and center Luke Nevill and couple of years ago. Shaun Green and Tyler Kepkay are other solid scorers Boylen has brought off the bench, and this season junior Chris Kupets comes off the bench and averaged eight points per contest.

For more about UW’s game with Air Force Wednesday, along with a UW-Air Force women’s preview, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang

Corner concerns

The topic of my Sunday column last week was the continued struggles in conference play the Wyoming men’s basketball team has had defending the 3-point shot.

Here’s a link to the column:

In four conference games UW is last in the MWC in 3-point shooting defense at 48.9 percent, and teams have averaged 11.5 3s per game.

And many of them have come from the corners against the Cowboys’ 2-3 zone.

Six of New Mexico’s 10 3-pointers came from at or near the corners. Same thing with TCU. But the Cowboys really struggled rotating to the corners last Saturday against Utah as 10 of the Utes’ treys were at or near the corner.

Utah coach Jim Boylen said his team made the extra pass to find the open player. Here’s what a couple of other MWC coaches told me when I asked them about their good 3-point shooting against UW.

“We were coming off a game where we played awful (an 83-49 loss at UNLV), and we were playing at home,” said TCU coach Jim Christian, whose team beat UW 78-60. “We shoot the ball much better at home, for whatever reason. I thought we played unselfishly. I thought our key players made shots early (guard Ronnie Moss and forward Garlon Green combined to go 9 of 17 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half) so we played with a lot more confidence. I don’t think it was anything from their defense that we saw and was able to figure out. I think it was how we played and led us to get some good looks and build some confidence.”

There wasn’t a shot chart available from UW’s 73-60 loss at Colorado State to open MWC play on Jan. 4. But the Cowboys allowed a season-high 14 3s, and there were a fair share made from the corners. Senior guard Adam Nigon made 7 treys, including five in the first half.

“Wyoming is in a zone defense so you kind of know where your 3s are going to come from,” CSU coach Tim Miles said. “I think that helps a little bit. We had a senior (Nigon) that kind of willed us for that first half. Free-throw shooting and 3-point shooting I think are kind of catchy. They’re like a virus. One guy starts getting it and it gets to everybody.”

Needless to say, if UW is going to stay with a zone defense, and it likely will, it better work on better rotations and movement.

MWC men’s basketball news and notes

Here are some tidbits from Monday’s Mountain West Conference men’s basketball coaches teleconference:

–Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer said junior center Adam Waddell is sore after he played 23 minutes on a bad Achilles in last Saturday’s 67-66 win over New Mexico. Waddell, however, is scheduled to make the trip for Wednesday’s game with TCU — as is junior Afam Muojeke (knee).

–Schroyer was asked how much altitude and travel difficulties to Laramie helps his team. He said those are advantages, but not as much as a when the the MWC or the old WAC had travel partners and teams were forced to spend a weekend along the Front Range playing UW and Colorado State.

–TCU has lost four straight games, but opened league play against two of the MWC’s top teams — No. 6 San Diego State at home and at UNLV, which was No. 25 last week. This is what coach Jim Christian said when asked what he expects from his team moving forward: “I better see them respond by playing harder. I better see them respond by coming to practice today excited to get better and play Wednesday with a sense of urgency. That’s what I better get.”

–Christian said for the first time in his 22-year coaching career, he witnessed one of his players suffer an injury in pregame warm-ups when junior J.R. Cadot, a junior-college transfer from Sheridan College, sprained an ankle at UNLV. Cadot played but was ineffective. He is fifth in the MWC in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and has the most offensive boards with 51.

–For the first time in the MWC’s 12-year history, there are two league teams in the top 10 of the Coaches’ Poll. SDSU is sixth and BYU 10th. BYU is 11th in the AP Poll.

–Colorado State coach Tim Miles had the best quoteon the call. His team didn’t play last Saturday and Miles said he watched the second half of San Diego State’s win at Utah and had this to say about SDSU’s front court: “They make college teams look like intramural teams.”

–Utah coach Jim Boylen got a little defensive when a writer from the Seattle Times asked him about his recruiting and if there might be a void of talent there with the signing of four junior-college players. The writer asked if Boylen’s recruiting has or will change as the Utes move to the Pac-12 next year. Boylend defended his recruiting philosophies and said he and his staff are actively recruiting 25 of the top 100 recruits in the nation right now.

See Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for more on Monday’s teleconference.

I will host a live chat at 3 p.m. Wednesday to talk anything and everything UW sports. See this blog for more details on the link.