Men’s College Basketball: Ryan Jackson keeps Lewis flying
By Dick Goss email@example.com January 10, 2014 3:58PM
Ryan Jackson, of Lewis | File photo
Updated: February 13, 2014 6:25AM
Ryan Jackson, Lewis’ scoring leader and team leader, isn’t shy about welcoming their input from all corners.
“I learn something from everybody,” he said. “I’m open to listening to guys on the bench, to see if they see something from watching that I am missing, something I can do better.
“I respect all my teammates.”
The 6-foot-2 Jackson entered Thursday night’s game at Maryville was averaging 19.9 points per game for the Flyers, who are ranked No. 17 in NCAA Division II.
Jackson and the Flyers tasted defeat for the first time this season, falling 83-74 in two overtimes at in the Great Lakes Valley Conference game in St. Louis. Jackson was held to a season-low seven points.
The loss leaves the Flyers at 10-1 overall and 2-1 in the GLVC entering Saturday’s game at Missouri-St. Louis.
“The best thing about Ryan is his will to win,” said Scott Trost, in his eighth season as Lewis coach. “He hates to lose. He responds to a challenge like no one I have seen. He is a tough-minded kid.
“He is a fantastic scorer. He is in the discussion of the best I’ve had. He’s also getting better as a leader. That’s becoming more important to him.”
Trost said the Flyers, who were disappointed a year ago when they were omitted from the Division II Tournament field, are “finding ways to win, making the plays when we need to.” But he warns the meat of the GLVC schedule remains.
Jackson can’t wait.
“I like challenges like you get in our conference,” he said. “But my ultimate goal is to win everything, win the conference and win the national championship.
“Coach always says championship teams find ways when their shots aren’t falling, when they don’t get a call they need. They take a charge, or get a big defensive stop. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
Jackson spent his youth in Bolingbrook before playing four years of high school ball at Riverside-Bookfield, leading the Bulldogs to a 69-14 record his last three seasons. His older brother Ivan, now 31, and Kyle, 27, played college ball at Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.), respectively.
“My brothers beat me up a lot when I was young, but I always watched them,” Jackson said. “I saw what they were doing well, and what they did wrong, and tried to incorporate the good things into my game. You can learn something from anybody.”
Jackson said his game hasn’t changed much since he enrolled at Lewis, “but I’m getting better every year at the things I do. And, I have more of a leadership role now that I’ve experienced things for a couple of years.”
Jackson said Lewis teams the last two years were better defensively than this one, but this one is better offensively.
“Every day, though, we are striving to get better defensively and offensively,” he said. “You don’t want to let up and go downhill. It can happen in a hurry.”
It’s less likely to happen, though, on Jackson’s watch.