Roo Up! Kangaroos men and women poised for big years

Jacie Hoyt
Billy Donlon
Posted at 7:31 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 20:31:57-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Making history loves company for the Kansas City Kangaroos.

Both the men's and women's teams are knocking on the door of record-breaking seasons.

The men have won nine of their last 11 straight games. The women have won nine in a row overall.

"We found different ways to win each and every time," said Kansas City women's head basketball coach Jacie Hoyt.

Her Roos are 22-5 on the season. Men's head coach Billy Donlon has his team sitting at 18-10.

"(We're) shooting the basketball better, playing with more confidence," Donlon said.

With one more weekend of basketball left to play, the women sit in third place in The Summit League standings.

The men are in fourth place.

"It's definitely a big week for us," Kangaroo guard Evan Gilyard II said.

South Dakota State leads both the men's and women's standings. Both Kansas City teams played the Jackrabbits in Saturday's regular season finales.

"Now the pressure is off," Hoyt said. "Everything now is just about preparing for that conference tournament."

The Summit League Men's & Women's Championship is March 5-8 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Both teams also play South Dakota on Thursday.

"If we win the weekend we could be second," Donlon said. "If we don't, we could be in the 4-5 game and anywhere in between."

It's a taste of what the Roos want more of.

"It's going to be good preparation again for March," Kangaroo point guard Naomi Alnatas said. "I think we couldn't have a better scenario to go against the two toughest teams in the conference."

The South Dakota women are ranked second in the conference.

Both Kansas City programs are within two games of their all-time winningest seasons. The men's record for wins in a season is 20. The women's record is 24. Both those marks were set in the 1991-92 season.

Back then UMKC was an NAIA school. Thus, both programs have already matched their highest win totals of their Division I era.

"It's a big deal. You want to win," Gilyard said. "I want to win more than 20 games. I'm pretty sure the whole team wants to win more than 20 games."

The men have never qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

The women qualified in 2020 before the tournament was canceled due to COVID.

Both teams believe that drought could end this season.

"One-hundred percent," Hoyt said.

"Our margin is thin but if we play really well, it doesn't matter who we're playing against. It will be a great game," said Donlon.

Both squads say they're also keeping an eye on each other, supporting their Kangaroo siblings.

"Coach Donlon was one of my first texts on Saturday after we won," Hoyt said.

The Kansas City men host the South Dakota schools on Thursday and Saturday of this week.

The Kansas City women travel to the South Dakota schools this week.