Texas Tech Basketball: Jeff Linder Hired, What to Expect

Texas Tech made it official with the hire of Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder as an assistant coach. Linder was 63-59 for Wyoming and was at Norther Colorado prior to that for a handful of seasons. Linder and Texas Tech head coach Grant McCasland were previously at Midland College way back in 2005-06 season.

In looking at some advanced stats, Linder’s Wyoming team last year was 129th in adjusted offense and 205th in adjusted defense. Offensively, they got to the line quite a bit, 52nd in the nation and were also a very good 3-point shooting team, 54th in the nation. The Cowboys weren’t so great at turning the ball over, 284th, and had lots of shots blocked, 318th.

Defensively, Wyoming didn’t let teams get to the line a bunch, 61st in the nation, and were not great at a lot of other stats. Just 317th in 2-point shooting, 311th in blocked shots, 263rd in turnover percentage.

If we go back to Wyoming’s best season, 2021-22, they were very good offensively, 72nd overall, 33rd at free throw rate and 31st in 2-point shooting with a much better turnover rate, 89th overall. Defensively, they didn’t turn teams over, just 316th, but were good in a ton of other stats. They were 27th in 3-point defense, 48th in limiting offensive rebounds, and 43rd in limiting free throw rate.

The big takeaway? Free throw rate (not really an exciting stat) seems to be a constant and he has shown an ability to get good shots, whether it be 2-point or 3-point shots. I don’t pay much attention to the blocked shots.

The Athletic’s CJ Moore ($) wrote about Linder and his offense in that 2021-22 season:

Linder has pulled off the transformation by playing a style that is unlike anything else in college hoops. He relies heavily on 6-foot-9 center Graham Ike, who has the highest usage rate in college hoops, and 6-7 point guard Hunter Maldonado. The two stars basically take turns posting up through both traditional post-ups and a brand of bully ball, where they back their man down from the perimeter into the post.

The Cowboys are playing through the post at a rate like no one else in the modern era of the game. According to Synergy’s tracking, Wyoming finishes 20.4 possessions per game with a post-up. Synergy has tracked such stats for 16 seasons, and no college team at any level in its database has topped that number. If you add in passes from the post that lead to a shot, the number goes up to 28.5 possessions per game, and Linder says his own tracking has it at more like 50 possessions per game.

McCasland is quoted pretty heavily in this article going back to those Midland days where they focused on a shooting guard who couldn’t dunk, but was able to get him an offense that focused on this player’s strength, which was shooting. And Linder has a knack for being great at scouting players as well:

“In a gym full of people who are paid to evaluate players, there’s nobody better at just seeing past the obvious,” Williams says. “He recognizes body type and feel for the game, interactions with their teammates and coaches, physical maturity. Are they still young for their grade? Do they have room for more growth? Are they going to get taller?

“A lot of people will be in that same gym, noticing that their shot goes in or they can jump high or whatever, and he sees past the obvious to the things that really matter — not just what’s going to happen on the first day when they show up, but where will they be in four years.”

And the European offenses with big men that can shoot and handle the ball as well as are more free flowing are Linder’s specialty:

In recruiting, they targeted skilled bigs who could pull the league’s athletic big men away from the basket. No one executed that type of offense better than European teams, and he fell in love with the way they ran offense. “I always thought Europe was a year and a half to two years ahead of where everybody else was at over here, especially the NBA,” Linder says. “I think in a lot of ways they’re playing chess over there compared to checkers over here.”

These days Linder says he watches at least one game played overseas every day. From just the 2020-21 season, he has a 1,200-clip edit of different offensive concepts that he might eventually use.

“It’s organized by play type,” McCasland says. “It’s literally worth probably a million dollars. I’m not joking.”

“People have no idea how much film he watches and how much shit he goes through on Synergy,” says Phil Beckner, who worked with Linder at Boise State and is now an NBA trainer — best known for training Lillard — and a consultant for the 76ers.

If you have a subscription, a lot at the article is definitely worth it, lots of video explaining how Wyoming and Linder create offenses. The biggest takeaways are that Linder is an offensive minded coach that is highly influenced by European basketball and passing offenses as well as offenses and players that take advantage of their strengths. He has an eye for talent and he is highly organized and extremely dedicated to watching video and finding weaknesses in opposing defenses.

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