In Menzies, there is no UMKC coach with more experience

Newly hired KC Roos men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies, center, is flanked to the left by UMKC Advisor C. Mauli Agrawal and to the right by UMKC Sports Director Dr. Brandon Martin.

Newly hired KC Roos men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies, center, is flanked to the left by UMKC Advisor C. Mauli Agrawal and to the right by UMKC Sports Director Dr. Brandon Martin.

bkerkhoff@kcstar.com

The introductory celebration for Marvin Menzies as the new UMKC men’s basketball coach was filled with thanks, words of encouragement, and goodwill.

But the feeling was that the Menzies couldn’t get over it all fast enough. It’s time for him and athletic director Dr. Brandon Martin to get to work.

“The press conference was more about the big picture, about me, and introducing you all to me,” Menzies said. “But we’ve already had discussions about what it takes to win, specifically. It’s about filling the gym with winning teams that we need to work on.”

Menzies builds on winning seasons. The man he replaced — Billy Donlon, who departed to become assistant coach at Clemson — scored a season of 19 victories and departed after three years as the only coach in the program’s Division I history with a career victory record.

But challenges remain. Like compiling a list in the era of the transport gate. to me verbalcommits.com, Seven players from the Kansas City area entered the gate. One of them, guard Boogie Anderson of South Dakota, has announced that he is transferring to UMKC.

Also, Menzies, who held the record 246-179 in 12 years as head coach at New Mexico State and UNLV, hasn’t been on the sidelines since 2019-20, when he was an assistant coach at Grand Canyon State. I’ve spent a lot of time since then creating a file Sports and Academic Academy in Lagos, Nigeria.

Will Menzies need some time to adjust to entering the world of college basketball again?

“Maybe I’m too cocky,” he said. “I don’t think so. I have been in touch with the game through the guys I mentored. And there are a lot of high school kids who are being ignored now because of the COVID year, so people stayed (at school).

“Transfer portal… you look at all of this stuff. So how do we benefit from that? You add an international component. You have to be able to take advantage of global employment, which we will do quickly. Also, you have to look at the young people who want to contribute. Immediately who will come through the gate.”

Menzies, 60, is the eighth coach in UMKC’s 36-year history. None of his ancestors arrived with more experience. Besides enjoying successful tours in New Mexico State — five WAC championships and nine NCAA appearances — and at UNLV, Menzies has worked as an assistant coaching staff in Sacramento State, San Diego State, Southern California and Louisville.

It’s a branch on the training tree of notables like Rick Pettino, Lone Kreuger and Steve Fisher.

“I could call any school in the US and I would at least know someone, and I would have a conversation in it,” Menzies said.

The Menzies’ mission is to take UMKC to a place like never before: the NCAA Championship. He has played the program after the conference session only once, making his 2017 appearance at the College Basketball Invitational. The Russians have not yet reached the league title match.

But that does not dampen expectations now. Not as Martin sees it.

“It’s not an option at this time because we haven’t succeeded,” he said. “Every day, we have to get better, we have to hire, we have to bring in more resources, infrastructure and support for our program.

“If we don’t win the top championships, if we don’t advance to the NCAAs, it’s not a success.”

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Blair Kerkhove has covered sporting events for The Kansas City Star since 1989.

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