New-look men’s basketball team gears up for season

Remember last year’s Kansas City men’s basketball team? Good, because this year’s team has an entirely new look.

There’s a new head coach, new assistant coaches and nearly an entire new squad of players.

“It’s been a different process having a coaching change on the college level,” senior forward Jordan Giles said. “When that happens, people transfer. But at the end of the day, nobody cares if you have a new team. You still have to win and produce.”

For the men’s team, this past summer has been about breaking in new transfers and players who have never played on the college level. There are only five returning players, and Giles is the only senior who has been in the program all four years.

“My role in the school’s program is going to expand even more. I’m going to have to be a leader on and off the court,” Giles said. “I have been working on it because I am usually a person that doesn’t talk that much, and they want me to help everyone out, including myself.”

The men arrived on campus June 1 for training, with a schedule designed to get players familiar with one another. From 8 a.m. mandatory team breakfast to Sunday night huddle, Head Coach Billy Donlon has designed a schedule to help the players connect with one another quickly before the season starts.

“There is a winning energy in the gym—we all have the same goal now,” guard Brandon McKissic said. “It’s a great and different vibe led by the coaches pushing us to be the best players.”

Players attend class at 10 a.m. and have practice at 2 p.m., followed by weights and pick-up games. They don’t get home until 9 p.m. after attending mandatory study hall hours and doing homework.

The team has meshed together well and looks forward to its upcoming season together.

“It’s going to be something that hasn’t been seen in a while,” said McKissic. “We’re going to do something special.”

kb336@mail.umkc.edu

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