The Kansas City Roos sounds more like a professional sports team than the college team they are. After a brand overhaul by the institution, the athletic department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City opted to brand themselves as the KC Roos rather than the UMKC Kangaroos they were before. The school still calls themselves UMKC on the academic side, but athletics march to their own drumbeat.
So, Kansas City Roo’s it is, and consider Saint Louis has a hard enough time convincing its local newspaper they aren’t “St. Louis U,” we should honor their decision to brand itself however it wants.
The rebrand comes in step with the programs conference realignment from the WAC to the Summit League, which makes so much sense it’s unbelievable to think a school in Kansas City, Missouri ever played in the Western Athletic Conference (I mean, who do they think they are? An Atlantic 10 team in Missouri?). Regardless, the Kansas City Roos is one of the more unique college basketball teams and will look to be competitive in their conference this year.
Billy Donlon is most known for his work at Wright State, where he had three 20-win-seasons but never quite got his Raiders to the big dance. Donlon is a coach who loves to implement set plays and run systems to be successful; he is also of the same ilk as Travis Ford in that hard-nosed defense is the norm for his players if they want to see the court.
At practice Tuesday, Travis Ford said that the Billikens would be facing a team that he felt was incredibly similar to the ones that he coached in his first few years at SLU.
“Very hard playing team, very aggressive team…they really look to control the pace of the game...They kinda want to grind it out a little bit, and we’ve been part of those in the past… we’ve usually done it ourselves that’s usually been us. The way they play is kinda like how we’ve played in the past. Very similar. Just trying to win it with your defense and hang in there with your offense, they’re ultra-aggressive defensively and offensively. They run it fast, hard, and aggressive.”
The Roo’s are led by a St Louis native and Saint Louis University High graduate Brandon McKissic. The Senior liters the Kansas City record books and is the team’s absolute focal point. He operates with relative freedom and was compared to Jordan Goodwin in that he is the team’s emotional leader. While he is the primary scorer, he also kicks start every aspect of the offense. While this means he can impact the game, if a defender can stop him…things come to a halt.
The Roo’s are one of the more methodical teams in the country, expected to run 400-500 variants of set plays a night. Travis Ford said at his presser Wednesday “This is a team that’s going to run a lot of different alignments, probably more plays than any team we’ve gone against, more actions than any team we’ve gone against. This is a different type game than ones we’ve played this year.”
The system style makes up for the lack of offensive talent and allows them to slow the game down, keeping the score in a place where they are comfortable. Over 54% of their scoring comes directly off of assists, so expect the Billikens to try and limit passing lanes and force the Roo’s into uncomfortable shot-clock situations.
Saint Louis will likely look to just roll through with their talent and athleticism. They will look to wreak havoc on defense, forcing turnovers and odd-man rushes in transitions. The game will be an opportunity to get back on their front foot and create some positive momentum moving forward after the loss to Minnesota. Look for players like Gibson Jimerson and Javonte Perkins look to get their offensive flow back.
SLU will be looking to go 7-1, which in the shortened season would be the best non-conference record since 1993-1994 when they went 14-0. The Bills will next play Duquesne in conference play, so getting to a good place mentally and physically up and down the lineup will be key with a week off and a team that has had your number historically.
The game will be available on FOX Sports Midwest and ESPN+ with Dan McLaughlin and Scott Highmark on the call. As always, Billiken Hall of Famers Bob Ramsey and Earl Austin Jr will be on the radio for this one; tune into KMOX1120 or Radio.com for that. The tip comes at 7pm CT.
SLU is 8-1 all-time against Kansas City. They last played in 2009 when the Billikens escaped upset, winning 61-54 despite being down 6 with 12 minutes to play. KC’s lone win came in 1996 when they defeated SLU 74-53
SLU is favored by 20 according to William Hill via Caesars.
Jordan Goodwin continues his attack on the SLU career records and is now 2 assists away from passing Jim Roder for 7th all time. Jordan will also climb the all-time scoring ladder, needing one point to pass Jim Irving for 17th all-time in scoring with 1269 points. Next would-be Lewis McKinney with 1325.
Hasahn French is tied for 29th all-time in scoring with 1049 points and needs 14 t pass Cody Ellis for 28th.