Mid-Major Impact

New coach Kareem Richardson introduced

Don’t be surprised if the blue-and-gold-clad UMKC Roos have you seeing flashes of red during the next men’s basketball campaign.

New head coach Kareem Richardson is leaving an assistant’s post with the University of Louisville Cardinals to come to Kansas City, and during an introductory press conference Monday he promised an exciting, up-tempo style of play with an emphasis on defensive ferocity reminiscent of the Cardinals.

That style, and the team’s talent, have lifted Louisville to the number-one overall seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. And while Richardson made no specific promises in terms of number of wins or a timetable, he did say that the team will be successful as well as exciting.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be a mid-major household name,” Richardson said. “The team we put on the floor will be tough, well-disciplined, and high-character men who do it the right way. And we will play an exciting style.”

That style will be fast and defense-oriented, he said, featuring multiple full-court-press techniques similar to the Louisville style.

“We will play a defense that creates tempo, creates steals,” Richardson said. “I want to create a ton of havoc on the defensive end.”

Richardson said it took a “special opportunity” to draw him away from Louisville and a staff headed by “a Hall of Fame coach in Rick Pitino.”

“UMKC is that special situation,” he said. Nodding to Athletic Director Tim Hall and Chancellor Leo Morton, who joined him on the stage in the Student Union Theater, he added “I take comfort in knowing that I will be surrounded by great people, starting at the top.”

Morton said athletic success is the next logical step in the university’s evolution.

“Our academics are soaring, we are getting national attention, and we need to do the same thing with our athletics,” Morton said.

Hall said expectations for the program are high, driven in part by Richardson’s pattern of success at multiple stops in a coaching career that has taken him to Indiana State and Xavier as well as Louisville.

“We have a guy in Kareem Richardson who not only likes to coach basketball in March – he expects to coach basketball in March. That is our expectation as well, and that is the reason why Kareem is the head basketball coach at UMKC,” Hall said. “He knows how to recruit and win in the mid-major ranks.”

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