SOURCES: Jeff Linder to be named UW basketball coach
LARAMIE -- If you can't beat them -- hire him.
That's exactly what the University of Wyoming did Tuesday, naming Jeff Linder the next head men's basketball coach in Laramie, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Linder spent the last four seasons at the University of Northern Colorado where he led the Bears to an 80-50 record, including a school record 26 wins in 2017-18 to go along with a CIT Championship.
The Bears became the first Big Sky team in league history to win a postseason basketball tournament. They were the first college basketball team from Colorado to win a tourney since 1940.
Linder, a Lafayette, Colorado, native is no stranger to Laramie. The past three seasons, UNC has come into the Arena-Auditorium and walked away with three victories, including a 74-53 blowout in December.
How impressive is that feat?
Linder and the Bears became the first non-conference team to win on consecutive trips to Laramie. It's front and center in his bio.
Linder was the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year in 2018-19 after leading UNC to a 21-11 record. The Bears won a school record 15 conference games that season. Linder was en route to his best season in Greeley in 2019-20. UNC was 22-9 heading into the league tournament, which was cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Bears were the No. 2 seed.
When Linder arrived on campus in Greeley, the program was reeling. B.J. Hill had just been fired after allegations of academic fraud and impermissible player benefits surfaced. The school put a self-imposed sanction on itself, limiting scholarships and recruiting through the 2018-19 season.
Linder won just 11 games in his first season. Year two, 26.
Todd Simon, head basketball coach at Southern Utah University, called the Linder hire a "home run" for the Cowboys.
"Jeff’s a very good coach," Said Simon, who is 2-6 all-time against Linder's Bears. "His teams at UNC were disciplined with three-point shooters and great guard play in ball screens. He will do well and his style will translate because his teams don’t beat themselves with turnovers, bad shots or fouling."
In 2019-20, the Bears averaged 74.3 points per game. They were tied for sixth in the nation for fewest turnovers. UNC was one of the top shooting teams in the country, netting 47 percent of its shots from the field (35th), and 38.4 percent from behind the arc (10th).
The Bears also boasted the 22nd-ranked scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 62.7 points per game.
UNC was Linder's first head coaching job after spending the previous six seasons as an assistant coach at Boise State under Leon Rice. There, he helped lead the Broncos to the school's first Mountain West Championship, a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, two NIT bids and a CBI semifinal. In three of Linder's six seasons in Boise, the Broncos led the MW in scoring. They finished No. 2 one time.
Linder has also been an assistant at Colorado, Emporia State, Midland, Weber State and San Francisco.
"If you take care of your players and treat them the right way, they’re going to play their hearts out for you,' Linder told the Denver Post back in 2018. "And I think that’s what we do."
It's likely that type of character that landed Linder future NBA Lottery pick, Damian Lillard, at Weber State.
Linder will be the 22nd head coach in UW basketball history, replacing Allen Edwards, who went 60-75 in his four-year tenure in Laramie.
An Added bonus could be the potential addition of Steve Smiley to Linder's staff.
Smiley, who has been with Linder since Day 1 in Greeley, was the head coach at Sheridan College for six seasons, leading the Generals to an overall mark of 153-43, including two trips to the title game of the Region 9 Final Four. In Sheridan, 21 players signed Division-I scholarships under Smiley's watch.