UMKC introduced Billy Donlon as the new men’s basketball coach last week.
Donlon comes from serving as an assistant coach at Northwestern University and has experience as head coach at Wright State University. He also served on Jim Beilein’s staff at Michigan, where they won the Big Ten tournament.
Donlon told U-News he wants to implement a philosophy that has been proven to work.
“Our philosophy is going to be play really great defense, play together as a team and with some pace on offense” said Donlon. “It’s a philosophy that has won at a lot of levels.”
Donlon helped bring in the best recruiting classes Northwestern had ever seen. He said he hopes to continue his success in recruiting at UMKC.
“Job one is to build a fortress and get local guys here,” said Donlon. “You also have to protect yourself in case it doesn’t work out, so we will also recruit nationally.”
Next fall will be the team’s first full season back at Swinney Recreation Center. The team only played conference games there last season. Boosting student attendance was a main factor in moving the team back. Donlon recognizes the importance of students being at games.
“It’s a two-way street, as students want to come and watch a winner,” said Donlon. “In order for us to win, we need the students to get us over the hump in tight games.”
Donlon believes winning won’t just attract students, but also the people of Kansas City.
“Kansas City is a blue-collar city, which I love, as it’s the way I grew up,” said Donlon. “If they give us a chance and see our style, I think it’ll be something they love.
At a press conference last week, Chancellor Agrawal and Athletic Director Brandon Martin spoke about why they chose Donlon. UMKC’s head coach search included interviewing 11 coaches in 16 days on a trip that took officials over 15,000 miles.
“No one was more prepared and more familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of our programs and had a plan to be a top 50 program than Billy,” said Martin.
Agrawal spoke about how Donlon fit in with his vision of UMKC.
“Athletics are important to a university as a point of pride and a rallying point for the community,” said Agrawal. “Athletics success will play a key role in our overall effort to build a culture of excellence and a sense of belonging.”