Don’t Count the UMKC Men’s Basketball Team Out, Not Yet


Photo by Julia Kapros

Zayin Barnes, Managing Editor

  Nearly three weeks and nine games into the season, the Roos are looking to improve upon their current record of 3-6. Sitting at eighth-place in the Summit League, their start to the season is not ideal; however, there are multiple areas that flash greatness. Still early in the season, here are the key points to observe heading into the next few weeks of play.

The Roos Defense is Impeccable 

  The Roos should be proud of their defensive efforts. They currently rank first in the conference in points allowed per game with 67.9. Their rotations and communication are very strong, and their ability to lean on versatility and height portrays promise. 

  The Roos’ defensive impact isn’t just for show, either. It’s backed up by many statistics. The Roos lead the Summit League in steals with 58, averaging 6.4 a game, as well as opposing field goal percentage, holding their opposition to an astounding 38.6%. 

  These are key stats for a defense to have. It shows the Roos’ defensive tenacity in statistical form. They are able to maintain a high-level of energy throughout the entire game defensively, fighting for loose balls, efficiently switching and fighting off of screens and closing out on shooters quickly. Their focus on suffocating the offense is a keen aspect of their team.

  They also place second in opposing three-point percentage, with their competition knocking down 31% of their threes, and rank second in blocked shots with 36, averaging four a game.

  The Roos also have a pair of top-ten shot blockers in the conference: sophomore forward Allen David Mukeba Jr. at sixth with 1.2 per game and freshman forward Jeff Ngandu at fourth with 1.4 per game. 

  Mukeba Jr. is also one of two Roos players in the top five for steals in the Summit League, averaging 1.3 per game, ranking fourth. Along with Mukeba Jr. is senior guard Shemarri Allen who leads the entire conference in steals, averaging two per game.

  Combined with their defense, rebounding is another strongpoint for the Roos. The team has a total of 360 rebounds, averaging 40 a game. The next closest team is Oral Roberts with 267 total rebounds. They also lead the league in offensive rebounds with 124, averaging almost 14a game. 

  Their rebounding powerhouse is led by Mukeba Jr. who places second in the Summit League, averaging 8.8 a game.

The Offense has Too Many Holes, But There’s Time to Fill Them

  The defense and rebounding together show that the Roos have tremendous potential. The problem comes on the offensive end. 

  The team ranks at the bottom of the league in every offensive stat. They place ninth in points, field goal and three-point percentage, scoring 65.8 per game. They hit just under 40% of their shots and 28.6% from beyond the arc.

  Their playmaking numbers are also at the bottom, placing tenth in assists averaging 10.33 a game and second in turnovers with 16.9 a game.

  Despite the Roos struggles, graduate guard RayQuawndis Mitchell and Allen place at the top of the conference in points per game, with Mitchell averaging 15.3 placing fourth and Allen averaging 15.7 placing second. Allen is also the third leader in field goal percentage.

What’s next for the Roos

  The Roos are still adjusting to a new team and coaching staff, but with a defense as strong as theirs, fans certainly have little to worry about. 

  The main point of emphasis for the Roos offense should be their turnovers. Taking care of the ball would undoubtedly compliment their superb defense and result in an unbeatable combination that offers the potential for wins. 

  Not only the turnovers, but the playmaking and movement seems to be the kryptonite of the Roos offense. Not sharing the ball consistently is going to cause a blockade in the system. With how tall they are, an inside-out approach seems to be the best plan of attack. More of an old-school approach, it is still plenty effective. 

  Trying to isolate the post with big guys will draw guard help by nature, leaving shooters open. Once the shots start to fall, then it can be left up to the big men to run the post, placing one big at the free throw line and letting the other go to work. This will give you multiple focal points, especially during a time when the long-range jumpers aren’t falling. 

  The Roos’ bright spots far outweigh their issues, but they still have some kinks to work out. If they can pick up their offensive intensity and pressure and match it to their defense, they certainly can make a run at a tournament spot. There doesn’t seem to be any real concerning issue at the moment. Shots will fall eventually, as long as players get good looks. It only takes one game to swing momentum and get the ball rolling to set the tone of the season; it doesn’t always have to happen early. At the end of the day, it comes down to capitalization and rhythm; the Roos are just trying to find theirs.

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