Brad Jackson, 60, won 518 games in 27 seasons at Western Washington, including the 2012 NCAA Division II championship
Part of Washington’s makeover after last season’s disappointing finish involved bringing in a 60-year-old assistant coach to help rejuvenate a team that won the Pac-12 regular-season title but missed the NCAA tournament.
In many ways Brad Jackson, an old-school basketball coach who believes in the fundamentals of the game, represents everything that is new and exciting about the Husky men’s basketball team this season.
He’s one of two fresh faces on the three-man staff, along with Lamont Smith, the newcomer from Arizona State.
Jackson’s experience with the high-post offense has made him perfectly qualified to help coach Lorenzo Romar install the read-and-react scheme at Washington.
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He also has an affinity for scouting opposing teams, and his first assignment just might be the easiest he’ll ever experience during his UW tenure.
“It meant that I probably didn’t have to study as hard,” he joked when discussing Washington’s exhibition at 7 p.m. Wednesday against his former team, Western Washington.
Jackson, who spent 27 years at Western, still interchanges the words “we” and “they” when referring to the Vikings.
Since taking the Washington job Aug. 17, he’s kept a home in Bellingham and maintains a special relationship with many of the players, coaches, WWU administrators and Vikings fans.
“I was treated very, very well by the community,” said Jackson, who won 518 games at Western, third-most by a college basketball coach in the state of Washington. “I was fortunate to be able to develop something and sustain that over a period of time. That’s the thing that I feel good about.
“I think basketball at Western Washington has become a community event. It’s something that people take a lot of ownership in and take pride in. We just tried to develop a culture of excellence.”
Jackson acknowledged it’s been surreal scouting against players he recruited, coached and led to a 31-5 record last season, resulting in a Division II national title.
He also knows the Vikings, who return three starters, won’t be pushovers like they were in their last game against Washington, a 105-85 Huskies victory in 2008.
“I do not think it will be a situation where they are intimidated or going to be holding back,” Jackson said.
The Huskies are hoping to avoid an upset, such as when Seattle Pacific stunned Arizona 69-68 a year ago.
“Sometimes if you lose a game like this against a team most people would say you’re supposed to win against at home, maybe it’s a sign of things to come,” Romar said. “In other situations, it could serve as a wake-up call.
“Or you got accomplished the things you wanted to accomplish. Maybe you wouldn’t play those combinations that you played in that exhibition game later on.”
While he was an assistant at UCLA, the Bruins lost an exhibition game to begin the 1994-95 season and it ended with an NCAA tournament title.
“I don’t think we have to put all of our stock in what happens in these exhibition games,” Romar said. “It’s a learning situation.”
Still, Washington is 10-0 in exhibition openers under Romar, winning seven games in routs.
The Huskies would like to make it 11 for 11 while showcasing their new offense for the first time at home.
Since the start of practice Oct. 12, Washington has had just one intrasquad scrimmage to work the kinks out of an offense that sputtered and averaged 71.2 points during a 3-3 exhibition tour of Europe against professional teams.
“I’m going to be really excited to see how we compete against a college team,” sophomore forward Desmond Simmons said. “We’ve played against pros this summer, and we feel like we did very well.
“I’m anxious to see how that carries over to Wednesday’s game. I feel like we’ve grown a lot since we’ve played overseas. I’m just interested to see how well we carry that into our season.”
• Romar named four starters for Wednesday’s game: Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox and Aziz N’Diaye. He said four players (Simmons, Martin Breunig, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Jernard Jarreau) are vying to start at power forward.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen