Winder feeling rejuvenated

There's bad luck, and then there's Anson Winder's luck last season. He sprained his ankle the day before individual workouts began and thus played very sparingly early on, and eventually even had to see a foot specialist because he wasn't healing. He was told he may need surgery, and though it didn't come to that, he never got into a rhythm. This year, however, should be a different story.

Anson Winder started 15 games as a redshirt freshman in 2011-12, but wasn't able to build upon that as a sophomore and meet expectations because of his ankle injury.

His numbers mostly went down. As a freshman he scored in double digits five times and had a high of 20 points, while as a sophomore his season-high of 10 points was the only time he scored in double digits. From his redshirt freshman season to his sophomore season, he saw a decrease in minutes per game (from 16.2 to 8.1), points per game (from 4.3 to 2.1), rebounds (from 53 to 32), steals (from 35 to 13), and assists (from 57 to 16).

Winder missed three of the team's first four games last season, and only played one minute in the other game, but did gradually get more playing time. At one point he played double-digit minutes in 10 out of 11 consecutive games before then only playing single-digit minutes in the next seven games and never getting off the bench in BYU's loss to Baylor in the NIT Final Four.

The good news is that Winder is entering this season under much better circumstances.

"This year I'm coming in healthy," he said. "I got a chance to rest over the summer, strengthen up that ankle, so I'm coming into the season healthy. I'm excited."

In addition to using the offseason to get full healthy, he also used it to improve on different facets of his game.

"Yeah, definitely working on shooting, a lot of ball-handling, and just decision-making in general," Winder said. "I know that's kind of the key with our team is getting the best play we can every possession."

A healthier and more productive Winder will only provide a boost to a BYU guard line that was already very strong. The junior agreed with the assessment that this could be the best Cougar backcourt of the past few years.

"Yeah, I think we're deep at the guard position," Winder said. "I think they're all really good guys, so I think this is a really good year for BYU guard-wise."

But with established players like Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino and Kyle Collinsworth all appearing to be locks as starters, and newcomers such as Skyler Halford and Frank Bartley showing a lot of promise, that could make it tough for someone like Winder who has to compete with all of them for minutes.

"I think Coach likes it like that," said Winder. "He wants us to compete for our minutes. He's not [simply] giving time to anybody, so it'll definitely be a challenge coming into the year, and the guys who do play the most minutes will be the guys who definitely competed for their time."

But Coach Rose said that the team should utilize some four-guard lineups this season, which should give Winder and his fellow guards more opportunities to play. With the smaller lineups the team will employ at times, Winder believes they'll be even better in their transition game.

Although Winder often got lost in the shuffle last season, it's apparent that Coach Rose believes his junior guard can play a big role for the team this season.

"Well, what 'Ans' brings to us is versatility – [he can play] the point, the two, the three – and he understands our system completely. Defensively, he's one of our best perimeter defenders, and the fact that he has not had any setbacks I think will really help him with his ability to consistently help us night in and night out."

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