Countdown to Tip-Off: Kansas City Men

Kansas City's Trinity Hall (with ball) and Estan Tyler (11).
Kansas City's Trinity Hall (with ball) and Estan Tyler (11).

2012-13 COUNTDOWN TO TIPOFF // thesummitleague.org // @summithoops

 KANSAS CITY KANGAROOS

 



 

2011-12 REVIEW
Overall Record: 10-21
Summit League Record (Finish): 4-14 (10th)
Postseason: Did not qualify

2012-13 QUICK GLANCE
Head Coach (Season): Matt Brown (6th)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 7/5
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1
Key Returnees:

Estan Tyler

  • Led the team and ranked 11th in the league with 84 assists.
  • Ranked 10th in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4.
  • Started 20 and played in 28 games at point guard as a true freshman a year ago.

Trinity Hall

  • Leading returning scorer at 10 points per game.
  • Also led the team in rebounding last season at 4.3 per contest.
  • Scored a career-high 27 points last season against Canisius at home.

Thomas Staton

  • The Kangaroos best all-around player, he was in the team's top three in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
  • Played three different positions a year ago due to his versatility.
  • His 24 games started was second-most among returnees.

Kirk Korver

  • Was forced to play out of position at center last season.
  • Ranked second on the team with 31 threes made.
  • Played in all 31 games, and leads all returnees with 29 starts last season.

Web Page: umkckangaroos.com
Twitter: @coachmattbrown

SUMMIT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL
Position: 7th
All-League Selections: None

BLUE RIBBON COLLEGE BASKETBALL YEARBOOK
Forecast:
7th
Analysis Excerpts:  "Every year is important," said Brown, who enters his sixth season.

Brown has reason for optimism. After counting on three sophomores and a freshman last season, his roster is aging. And he added to his team's experience by signing three junior college transfers.

"We played a lot of the kids early last year," Brown said. "We're really relying heavily upon that junior class. Hopefully, the sophomores that became juniors will be a lot better."

A year after a breakthrough winning season, the Kangaroos took a step backward. It can't happen again.

With more experience, UMKC should be better able to handle the improving Summit. South Dakota State is the role model for UMKC, moving up the conference standings as its players aged.

The Kangaroos junior base is strong enough that the UMKC can reach .500 again. Anything beyond that would be a bonus for Brown. And it would set up a potential run toward the top of the conference in 2013-14, when the lineup will be senior dominated.

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the "bible" of preseason preview publications, is now in its 32nd printing. To see the complete version of this story, as well as 344 other profiles of Division I schools, order the 400-page 2012-13 edition at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or by calling 877-807-4857.

OTHER PRESEASON PROJECTIONS

Athlon Sports: 7th
CBSSports.com: 8th
Lindy's Sports: 7th
USA Today: 8th
Yahoo! Sports: 7th

SEASON OUTLOOK
courtesy UMKC Sports Information

The Kansas City men's basketball team comes into the 2012-13 season with one thought on its mind. Improvement. The 'Roos had areas that they needed to improve during the offseason in order to turn their 10-21 record around, and the coaching staff made it a point to complete those gaps both on and off the court.

The staff started by bringing in a class of five newcomers to supplement the returning four starters and seven letterwinners. Of those four starters coming back, only junior forward Trinity Hall returns to the lineup averaging at least 10 points per game.  He was also the leading rebounder at 4.3 per contest.

The coaches said they wanted to address two key areas going into the upcoming season.

"Defensively we want to be better and be able to get key stops." Head Coach Matt Brown said, "Rebounding is something we really needed to improve upon as well, and with the addition of front court players like Alton (Tanner), Nelson (Kirksey) and Caleb (Johnson), we should be better."

Brown also noted that returners like Fred Chatmon, team captain Kirk Korver, Brad Reid and Nate Rogers are more healthy than they have ever been, and all should help both on defense and on the glass.

"This past spring was the first time those guys have been able to practice since they got here." Brown said, "Coach (Paul) Arndorfer has also done a great job with our guys in strength and conditioning. We look like we are in great basketball specific shape coming into preseason."

Another concern was who is going to pick up the scoring punch left behind by the graduation of Reggie Chamberlain (17.3 ppg). He finished as the school's all-time leader in three-point and free throw percentage, while ranking in the national top 10 last year in both three-point percentage and threes made per game.

"Reggie was obviously a great shooter, and it will be difficult to replace a guy like that." Brown said, "The good news is I think we will be much more balanced this year. On any given night, we could have 4-5 guys in double figures."

The coaching staff feels that each of the five newcomers bring some needed ingredients to the table, while every returner is expected to be much improved this year.

Six of the seven returning letterwinners played more than 25 games last season, with four of those starting 20 or more times. Also returning is redshirt freshman Trevor Franklin, who comes back after an injury forced him to sit out.

"All of the returning starters I expect to contribute a great deal." Brown said, "We have some older experienced guys, and our depth will be better than it ever has."

The deeper roster will also give the 'Roos a chance to go with big, small, strong, and fast lineup combinations.

"We will be able to play faster, with more opportunities in transition. " Brown said, "We will also be able to get the ball inside a lot more now that we have the pieces to do so."

THE GUARDS

The 'Roos return three guards to the lineup that saw significant minutes a year ago, but each competed in just their first season at UMKC. That year of experience in the league should serve them well in 2012-13.

One of those guys was starting point guard Estan Tyler (6-1, 175), who returns to the lineup after a solid freshman campaign in which he led the team with 84 assists, and averaged 5.3 points per contest.  He is expected to be the starter again this season.

"Estan is a guy that got a lot of experince as a freshman." Brown said, "We have asked him to be more of a vocal leader on the floor."

Also in that group is junior Nate Rogers (6-1, 195), who played both at the point and shooting guard spots a year ago. He averaged six points per contest, mostly coming off the bench.

"Nate, being a fourth-year junior, is a guy that we expect to be more productive this year. He had a good offseason and we think he can help this team get better." Brown said.

The change in the guard position is the move of senior Thomas Staton (6-6, 220) to the guard spot. With his size, he played mostly at the forward position, but he finished the season as the team leader in steals (52), while ranking second in rebounds (4.1 rpg) and third in assists (65). He also put up 7.8 points per contest, ranking third.

"Thomas will also be able to play what we feel is his natural position at guard this year." Brown said "He is a very smart player that brings good versatility to the lineup."

Also entering the fold will be two true freshmen in John Burke (6-3, 205) and Mason Wedel (6-1, 175).  Both have been solid in the preseason and bring different styles to the team. Burke is an athletic guard that plays shooting guard, while Wedel can play the point, and has great basketball IQ, as well a good perimeter shot.

"Mason and John are talented true freshmen, and their playing time will depend on how fast they grasp the offensive and defensive schemes."  Brown said.

Another newcomer that could see time at guard is Nelson Kirksey, but he is expected to see the majority of his playing time at forward.

THE FORWARDS

Considered the team's deepest spot, the forward position starts with junior Trinity Hall (6-7, 210). The leading returning scorer, he is expected to be even better this year after a solid offseason, improving each year in the program.

He brings an athletic, explosive presence to the lineup, with the versatility to score and rebound. The staff also feels he will be important on the defensive end as well.

"Trinity is someone we expect to be an all-league player and more of a leader on the team." Brown said, "He has worked really hard this summer to put on more weight and get into great shape."

Also returning this season is junior Kirk Korver (6-7, 225). He was forced to play center much of last year due to injuries on the roster, but brings a good outside shooting touch that will work much better at forward. Last year he hit for 7.6 points per outing.

"The biggest change here is being able to move Kirk to his natural position at forward." Brown said. "He will be much more effective in that role."

The staff is excited about the addition of two transfers that will make an immediate impact at the forward position in sophomore Alton Tanner (6-7, 210) and junior Nelson Kirksey (6-3, 190). Tanner comes to UMKC after a year at Tyler Community College (Texas) that saw him average seven boards a game, while Kirksey averaged about 12 points and five rebounds a game at Jacksonville College (Texas), while ranking third in the league with 74 steals.

"Nelson and Alton will both compete for a lot of playing time." Brown said, "Nelson is fearless, and he will make things happen on the floor. Alton will really help us rebound the basketball, and he is a very good shooter."

The only returner that did not see the floor last season is redshirt Trevor Franklin (6-7, 180). He comes in off an injury last season that forced him to redshirt.

"Trevor is really good in transition and has great athletic ability." Brown said.

The coaches are excited about the possiblities with the forward position, with each of those five players, plus the option to play some of the versatile centers there as well.

"We are going to have so many options at forward because their skill sets give us so many different dimensions with different styles."

THE CENTERS

The center spot should also be much improved as it was ravaged by injuries a year ago. Brown feels that any one of three guys can play there, giving the 'Roos some depth for the first time during his tenure.

The main difference is the emergence of junior Fred Chatmon (6-9, 230), who went through an offseason for the first time in his career after battling injuries his whole career. He played in 26 games last season, but averaged only 12 minutes per outing.

"Fred is finally healthy, which is going to be good for us this year." Brown said, "Going through skill development has really been able to help him a lot, and he was able to put some bulk on his frame. He is much more confident as well."

Also competing for time in that spot is a newcomer in junior Caleb Johnson (6-9, 215). He played two seasons at one of the top junior college programs in the state of California at Yuba, helping the 49ers to an impressive 59-10 record during his career.

"Caleb's skill level and basketball IQ are very high." Brown said, "He will be able to shoot the ball as well as rebound."

Also returning is senior Brad Reid (6-11, 260), who is back after having a good offseason. He played in 15 games last season, averaging 6.2 minutes in those games.

"Brad is the most improved of any player on our team in terms of attitude and work ethic. He is in the best shape he has ever been as well." Brown continued, "It is just great to have three big bodies in there that can keep our lineup consistent as far as size, especially when we get into foul trouble."