UMKC’s basketball program is entering a new era.
They’ve hired a new head coach, former Louisville assistant Kareem Richardson, whom they hope will turn around the trend of five losing seasons in their last six years. They’re heading into the WAC after spending the last six years in the Summit League.
And now the school will be getting a $5 million renovation to the famed Municipal Auditorium.
“We are extremely delighted to have the majority of our home games at Municipal,” Richardson said in a release put out by the school. “The improvements that will take place there will certainly enhance the fan experience. We are confident with the support of the community that we can make Municipal Auditorium the best home court advantage in Western Athletic Conference.”
The renovation includes new video boards that are 47 feet wide and 12 ½ feet tall, an LED scorer’s table display that is 40 feet long, sound system, lighting, seating in the lower level and electrical upgrades.
“UMKC is Kansas City’s university, and we want the ‘Roos to be Kansas City’s team. That’s true for all sports, but particularly basketball, given our community’s historic ties to and love for college basketball,” said Leo E. Morton, UMKC chancellor. “That’s why we’re making the big move downtown, and making a big move to capture the community’s imagination and passion with a new coach and a new conference.”
Municipal Auditorium, which opened in 1936, hosted three of the first four Final Fours and was passed this season by Dayton Arena as the venue that has held the most NCAA tournament games.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.