University of Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman didn’t wait too long or look too far to find the Cowboys next head basketball coach. On Tuesday, UW announced it was hiring Jeff Linder to take over a Cowboys program that failed to reach double-digit wins each of the past two years.
Linder was the head coach at Northern Colorado the past four seasons, compiling an 80-50 overall record and leading the Bears to a 22-9 regular-season record this past season. UNC finished 15-5 in the Big Sky Conference and was seeded No. 2 in the postseason tournament that was canceled because of the novel coronavirus.
“Jeff (Linder) turned around the basketball program at Northern Colorado and developed his team into one of the premier programs in the Big Sky Conference.” Burman said in a release. “Jeff possesses many important qualities I was looking for in a new head coach for Cowboy Basketball. First and foremost, he is a proven winner as a head coach.
“Jeff also has great knowledge of the region and the Mountain West Conference. His brand of basketball will be great for our Cowboy fans to watch, as his teams play with great offensive efficiency and play a tough hard-nosed style of defense. We couldn’t be more excited to have Jeff lead Wyoming Basketball into a new era.”
Linder replaces Allen Edwards, who was fired on March 9, just two days after UW lost to Utah State in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament. Edwards went 60-75 in four years as the Cowboys’ head coach. He led them to the College Basketball Invitational championship in his first season (2016-17), but the Cowboys were a combined 17-48 the past two years, including a 6-30 Mountain West record.
Linder was the Big Sky Coach of the Year last season and led the Bears to the College Insiders Tournament championship two years ago. Northern Colorado went 3-0 against Wyoming under Linder, including a 74-53 victory on Dec. 14, 2019 at Laramie.
“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to be the men’s basketball coach at the University of Wyoming,” Linder said. “Wyoming has a rich basketball tradition which at a young age I was introduced to on the Sports Illustrated cover that featured Cowboy great, Fennis Dembo. From that time on growing up down the road in Denver, I was always rooting for the Cowboys.
“For me to now have the opportunity to lead this acclaimed program is an honor that I won’t take for granted. I will work to build on the storied past built and laid before me and diligently work to make Wyoming basketball a force to be reckoned with.”
Linder is expected to have a lot of young talent to work with as the Cowboys have to replace just two seniors off this year’s roster — guards A.J. Banks and Jake Hendricks — and are expected to return three of their top-5 returning scorers.
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