Kareem Richardson puts his stamp on UMKC basketball program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kareem Richardson has been on the job since March. His head is still spinning.

"I've been told it's going to be about a year's process, and I'm really believing that."

The 38-year-old career assistant just won a national championship with Louisville. He may have had a chance at other Division I head coaching jobs in the coming years. However, he decided to take on a monumental challenge at UMKC.

"I really like the vision that was presented to me from Tim (Hall) and Chancellor Morton with the program where they envision things going. I just thought it would be very exciting, a wonderful opportunity to be a part of that."

UMKC has never made it to the postseason in Division I or even a conference tournament championship game. As a former Kangaroo assistant, Richardson knew all of that. Still, he believes his Midwest recruiting ties will help him succeed where others have failed.

"Just with the recruiting ties being out there but, most importantly, I really feel like my background and my ability to relate."

Richardson signed four players in his first class. Three of them are from the Kansas City area.

"Obviously, we'll have to go other places other than Kansas City, but it is going to be a goal of ours to keep local kids home."

Richardson is not only trying to remake the roster but also the image of the program. The Roos will return to Municipal Auditorium next season and will compete in a new conference, the WAC.

"To be able to put a stamp on the league in the right way, that was exciting for me as well."

As an assistant, Richardson experienced success. He plans to use those experiences as his blueprint for success as a head coach.

"Playing as hard as you can. It sounds cliche and sounds easy, but when you turn the TV on, there is a lot of teams that don't play very hard. That's the main piece of the blueprint."

The former college point guard likes to move fast. He expects to build a perennial conference championship contender in a hurry.

"I don't believe in rebuilding. I think rebuilding is the easy way out. We're here to compete. It's not going to be like three or four years down the road. It's our goal to win now."

The Roos have a new leader, a new conference and the dream of reaching new heights.

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