PROVO, Utah — Illinois State basketball coach Dan Muller has faith William Tinsley will start making shots soon.

So does Tinsley.

"I know my shots will fall because they've been falling in practice," said the Redbird junior guard, a Ridgeview High School graduate from Colfax. "Coach is telling me, they keep stats in practice, and I've been leading in scoring and rebounding and all that. He wants me to carry it over to games."

Muller would like to see that happen Wednesday. ISU (4-4) faces another formidable road opponent when it meets Brigham Young (6-2) at 8 p.m. (CST) at the Marriott Center.

The Cougars are typically big and older, with several players returning after serving two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the first meeting between the schools, with BYU coming to Redbird Arena next season.

BYU was picked to finish third in the 10-team West Coast Conference, behind St. Mary's (Calif.) and Gonzaga, in a preseason poll of league coaches. 

"It's not only a good, quality opponent, but the atmosphere is going to be terrific," said Muller. "That is something that's going to be really good for this team."

The Marriott Center is one of the nation's largest on-campus arenas and seats almost 19,000.  

Tinsley, a 6-foot-6 guard, has started every game. He came to ISU with a reputation as a dead-eye long-range shooter and showed that in an exhibition victory against Lewis by making 5 of 7 attempts outside the arc.

However, Tinsley has struggled in the first eight games. He has gone 6 of 35 on 3-pointers and 20.4 percent overall from the field.

Muller said "it can get in your head" for any player who is in a slump.

"The first four or five games he took some bad shots. Some of it was shot selection," said Muller. "The last (couple) games he has taken very good shots or passed up shots he should have taken. Once we've helped him understand what a good shot is, then it's about trusting himself.

"We want him, and need him, to be aggressive."

Tinsley believes part of his shooting woes might be adjusting to Division I basketball after two years at Lake Land Community College. He has studied a lot of film with assistant coach Brendan Mullins, who works with the wings, to show Tinsley what shots he needs to take.

However, Tinsley hasn't let his offensive struggles carry over to defense. His 6.0 rebounding average is second on the team to Phil Fayne's 6.9 mark.

"Coach (Muller) emphasizes that every player has a different role," said Tinsley. "One of my main roles is to be an elite rebounder. I think one of the reasons I'm playing a lot is because I rebound and play on the defensive end. The offensive part will take care of itself."

ISU will need to rebound better to have a chance against BYU. The Redbirds are tied for 347th out of 351 Division I teams in rebound margin at minus-11.9.

Tulsa outrebounded ISU by 20, but the Redbirds still managed a 65-58 victory last Saturday by forcing 21 turnovers. Many of those turnovers were generated by the Redbirds' full-court pressure, especially 14 in the first half.

"We got them sped up a little bit," said Muller. "The press is going to be good for us as we get healthier and I can rest guys some more. I hope we can press more."

Muller said freshman guard Elijah Clarance, who is battling blister problems on his feet as he adjusts to new orthotics in his shoes, will not play. Clarance has played only three minutes after missing the first five games with a stress fracture.

BYU's Yoeli Childs will be one of the better low-post players the Redbirds have faced, according to Muller. The 6-8, 225-pound sophomore leads the Cougars in scoring (16.9 ppg), rebounding (9.0) and blocked shots (2.8).

Sophomore guard TJ Haws was a preseason all-West Coast selection along with Childs. However, Haws is shooting 28.6 percent outside the arc after hitting 40.4 percent as a freshman.

"Haws is not shooting it well yet. He will this year," said Muller. "Hopefully it's not Wednesday." 

Follow Jim Benson on Twitter: @Pg_Benson


Sports Writer

Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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