Sometimes it takes a new staff a few years to cycle through a roster and wind up with a team in the coach’s image.
At UMKC, it took one year.
The Kangaroos men’s basketball team enters coach Kareem Richardson’s second season with 14 players on the 15-man roster who were recruited by the current staff.
That means the transition process is completed.
“It also means we’re young and inexperienced,” Richardson said.
Ten players are sophomores or freshmen and four others are transfers who will be suiting up for the Kangaroos for the first time on Saturday when UMKC meets Rockhurst in an exhibition game at Municipal Auditorium. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. and follows a preseason game between the UMKC women and Missouri S&T that tips at 4:30 p.m.
Richardson’s first team went 10-20 and 7-9 in its first year in the Western Athletic Conference. Eight players and three starters were lost from that team, with guards Martez Harrison, who was chosen WAC freshman of the year, and Frank Williams returning.
The lack of familiar names pushed UMKC down in the preseason polls. They were picked to finish fifth by media and sixth by coaches in the eight-team league.
The Kangaroos were similarly dismissed last season and wound up as the fourth seed in the conference tournament.
“I like where we are,” Richardson said. “I think we’re a little bit ahead of where we were last year.”
Among the reasons for optimism: Newcomers Reese Holliday and Shayok Shayok should make an immediate impact.
Holliday, a 6-foot-4 forward, started his career at Toledo and averaged 7.8 as a junior two seasons ago. Shayok, a 6-8 frontliner, appeared in 67 games in two years at Bradley. As a freshman, he averaged 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18.6 minutes.
Richardson said there’s much to sort out among his lineup and rotation as the Nov. 14 season opener at Missouri approaches. But with a team that nearly entirely a product of his recruiting, the buy-in shouldn’t be an issue.
“They know our style, how hard they have to play, the effort level it takes to make our system work,” Richardson said. “Hopefully, we can move quickly to where we want to be.”