Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

First-year coach Zvosec leads UMKC to 5-0 start

December 7, 2001


There's more than one major college basketball team in Missouri undefeated entering this weekend's games.

Everybody knows about the Mizzou Tigers' resurgence under coach Quin Snyder.

But few, if any folks, nationwide realize UMKC is 5-0 under first-year coach Rich Zvosec. His Kangaroos visit Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. tip against 5-1 Kansas.

Zvosec took over for his old boss Dean Demopoulos who left the Kansas City school for an assistant post with the Seattle SuperSonics after last season.

"I knew Dean pretty well. When he left it surprised me because I thought they were getting some players in place that would improve their program," KU coach Roy Williams said.

"Rich has stepped in there. The kids really wanted him to get the job and they've done a good job. They are 5-0."

The 'Roos have won at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Robert Morris and also claimed home wins over Southwest Missouri State, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Northern Iowa a team that beat Iowa.

"We do have to alert our kids," Williams said. "Northern Iowa versus Iowa; Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky; Davidson vs. North Carolina. I can give you a lot of those scenarios," he said of shocking upset victories so far this season.

UMKC is led by Michael Watson, a 6-foot-1 guard who averages 20.2 points a game.

NBA players vital: One of the most important factors in college basketball recruiting, analyst Mike Sullivan says, is how many players programs send to the NBA.

"That is one of the biggest factors now. Kids all think they can make the NBA right out of high school," Sullivan of said. "They are given that conditioning, especially if they are a good player. It could be probably the No. 1 recruiting factor for programs.

"If schools are successful, they must use it to their advantage. You play to strengths. Kids are so influenced by ESPN. They all know who is in the NBA."

And so Sullivan says KU will get a big boost from Paul Pierce's performance in Boston. The former Jayhawk was leading the NBA in scoring through Wednesday's games.

"Paul Pierce is constantly on the highlight shows which have a big influence on kids," Sullivan said. "Kids want to know where Paul Pierce went to school. Coach Roy Williams can say, 'Kansas.''' Think of how many years Dean Smith used Michael Jordan's accomplishments in recruiting at North Carolina. Roy Williams can do the same with Paul Pierce, who will be around a long time."

KU has more NBA players than any school in the Big 12 with six. Here's a list of Big 12 players who started the season on NBA rosters:

Baylor: Brian Skinner, Cleveland; David Wesley, Charlotte.

Colorado: Chauncey Billups, Minnesota.

Iowa State: Victor Alexander, Detroit; Kelvin Cato, Houston; Marcus Fizer, Chicago; Fred Hoiberg, Chicago; Jamaal Tinsley, Indiana.

Kansas: Raef LaFrentz, Denver; Danny Manning, Dallas; Greg Ostertag, Utah; Pierce, Boston; Scot Pollard, Sacramento; Jacque Vaughn, Atlanta.

Kansas State: Mitch Richmond, LA Lakers.

Missouri: Keyon Dooling, LA Clippers; Anthony Peeler, Minnesota.

Nebraska: Tyronn Lue, Washington; Mikki Moore, Detroit; Eric Piatkowski, LA Clippers.

Oklahoma: Mookie Blaylock, Golden State; Eduardo Najera, Dallas; Brent Price, Sacramento.

Oklahoma State: Desmond Mason, Seattle; Bryant Reeves, Memphis; John Starks, Utah.

Texas: Maurice Evans, Minnesota; Chris Mihm, Cleveland.

Texas Tech: Tony Battie, Boston; Darvin Ham, Milwaukee.

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