University of Missouri

Missouri basketball coach Kim Anderson reflects on his first six weeks

A former player at Missouri, Kim Anderson was introduced as the new head basketball coach earlier this year.
A former player at Missouri, Kim Anderson was introduced as the new head basketball coach earlier this year. KansasCity

It’s been six weeks since Missouri hired Kim Anderson as its men’s basketball coach — six weeks of ceaseless public appearances and eager handshakes from fans at caravan stops.

“The hardest thing has been trying to do everything and return every call and answer every letter,” Anderson said. “I want to respond to every person and answer every question, but it’s impossible to do.”

Fortunately, the whirlwind is slowing down, Anderson said Monday in the clubhouse at Tiffany Greens Golf Course, where he braved a different kind of deluge for the annual Tiger Club of Kansas City Golf Tournament.

“When I was at Central (Missouri) this time of year, we might just be getting started recruiting, but you don’t have the public appearances that you need to do and the public-relations stuff,” said Anderson, who led the Mules to the NCAA Division II national championship last season. “It’s not the flagship university of the state. But I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been great.”

Of course, Anderson also said he’s excited to transition from the new guy who is rolled out to adoring cheers in every corner of the state to taking the Tigers’ coaching reins in earnest.

“There aren’t many more events I can go to, because I think I’ve been to just about everything,” Anderson joked. “For the most part now, the focus really kind of shifts to the team and being able to spend more time with them.”

The timing of his hiring in late April didn’t permit Anderson to get to know Missouri’s returning players before the semester ended, because of finals and other built-in breaks in the schedule. He’s been able to get in three workouts since the players returned to campus last week.

“That’s been the best part,” Anderson said, “being able to be out there with those guys and work with them.”

It is widely assumed 2014-15 will be a rebuilding season for a team that lost its top three scorers — Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson, who both declared for the NBA Draft after their junior year, and Earnest Ross.

While Anderson understands that perception, he also fully expects the Tigers to be competitive.

“I’m always optimistic,” he said. “I think we’ll be competitive, and I think we’ll win some games. I think we’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s really exciting to be able to try to put a new team together. It’s also challenging, but this is the Show Me State.”

While his appearance schedule might be easing up, Anderson has plenty of tasks to keep him busy in the coming months.

Missouri has two open scholarships. Anderson hopes to fill both, but he said he won’t sign players for those slots just for the sake of filling a scholarship quota.

Anderson also has to hire one more assistant coach. He wouldn’t tip his hand about who he has talked to about the vacancy and doesn’t have a strict set of criteria in mind.

He and his wife, Melissa, bought a house and will move to Columbia by month’s end.

“I’m looking forward to getting my wife moved to Columbia and settling in the community — maybe get a little routine in your life,” Anderson said. “It’ll be great to be with the players more and focus more on basketball than I have been able to.”

It’s going to be a brief respite, because July is a busy recruiting month for college basketball, and Anderson is eager to build a strong 2015 class.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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