The UMKC men’s basketball team held its annual media day Wednesday, Nov 5. to kick off the 2014-2015 season. The ’Roos lost ten players at the end of last season, leaving the team’s eleven newcomers and returning players with big shoes to fill.
“This team is a lot different from last year’s team,” said Reese Holliday, a redshirt transfer from Toledo. “We’re a lot younger. Last year’s team had a good number of seniors; this year we have a lot of freshmen and newcomers from junior colleges. We have a lot of youth but we have a lot of good pieces that fit together.”
The biggest challenge the team will face this season is arguably its lack of experienced players after losing six seniors and four others to transfers, though Head Coach Kareem Richardson is optimistic about the ’Roos’ newest recruits.
Richards discussed several of the team’s new players during media day.
“We’re really looking forward to a lot of the newcomers to step in and give us some quality minutes,” Richardson said. “Darius Austin, a freshman from Cahokia is a top 150 recruit so we’ll be expecting big things from him. We have Broderick Newbill who transferred in from Fresno State who’s a Kansas City kid. He can play right away for us because he gives us versatility and can play many positions. Kevin Franceschi is a junior college kid who will be able to help us out at the point by relieving Martez and playing alongside him as well. Noah Knight from Olathe, Kan., has a very tough mind set on the defensive end, and the list goes on. There are so many new guys who have never played a minute on this level, but we will be expecting and needing those guys to contribute.”
Entering his second season, Richardson plans to emphasize defense. Richardson believes the ’Roos can beat any team if they can consistently play great defense and force turnovers.
“As a team we have focused on applying defensive pressure on teams for 40 minutes, which will be a big key for us this year,” Franceschi said.
“Defensive pressure and applying it all the time – that’s really where we will make our mark,” said Holliday. “That’s what wins games and championships.”
“Coach Richardson is the type of coach that wants us to get stops,” senior guard Frank Williams said.
“If you can stop teams from scoring more than you, you’ll have a better chance at winning a game.”
Despite a rough first season (the ’Roos finished last season 10-20), Richardson feels he has grown as a coach.
“What I feel like I’ve improved on is knowing and figuring out each player,” Richardson said. “In my first year I didn’t step back and learn guys to get them to respond in a positive manner, so I’ve been able to step back and slow things down on and off the court to figure guys out.”
The ’Roos will kick off the regular season on Nov. 14 when they travel to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers.