Men's basketball opens with exhibition
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Division I Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos defeated the Division II University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 91-53 in an exhibition game Tuesday night at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium. That was expected.
What was unexpected was that for long stretches of the game the Mountain Lions didn't look out of place against their bigger, quicker opponent.
While, the offense showed some of the hesitation in execution expected in a first game, the Mountain Lions did not show confusion and moved with a purpose. If fact, they led by as many as six in the opening minutes and held a two-point lead at the halfway point of the first half.
"If we played the whole game like we played the first 10 minutes, it would have been a different story," said senior guard Trey White.
Defensively, CU-Colorado Springs was solid much of the game, making the Kangaroo's first shot a poor one. The Mountain Lions were simply unable to keep the massive UMKC frontcourt off the boards. UMKC had 15 offensive rebounds in the first half and 22 for the game. The Kangaroos outrebounded the Mountain Lions 46-26 overall.
"We didn't make sure that all five of us boxed out," said Dan Deveau, who had a team high seven rebounds to go along with his 11 points.
CU-Colorado Springs also had lapses, and against teams of UMKC's caliber lapses are deadly.
"Against a lower echelon team, you can have a mental or physical lapse and keep yourself in the game," said coach Lance Hammond in an interview prior to the trip. "Against teams with the kind of skill level we'll be playing against our first few games, if you have a lapse, they might score 15 or 20 points before you know what hit you."
Hammond didn't realize that he was being prophetic. Helped by 10 Mountain Lions turnovers and seven UMKC offensive rebounds, the Kangaroos went on a 33-9 run over the final 10:24 of the first half to take a 45-25 lead.
UMKC then opened the second half in a different gear, opening the second half with a 22-6 run, scoring on its first six possessions. During the run, CU-Colorado Springs made only one of its nine field goal attempts.
"We've got to take something out of this," said White. "We have to work on the negatives and make the positives better. Turnovers, rebounds, all those things - we've got to get better. We can't give up second-chance points and we've got to take care of the ball batter."
After UMKC's second run, another unexpected event occurred. CU-Colorado Springs played the Kangaroos even up the rest of the way.
Jim Pecic and Torrey Phillips led the Mountain Lions with 12 points each. Phillips added three assists and two steals. Freshman Devin Martin managed nine points despite being limited to 20 minutes because of foul trouble.
"We had a lot of individuals doing good things but, for the most part, we weren't doing things as a team," said Deveau.
That teamwork will need to be built on the run because the schedule doesn't get any easier. CU-Colorado Springs will play Wyoming on Saturday in Laramie to conclude its exhibition games. The Mountain Lions then will open the season with two games at a Division I tournament at Reno, Nev.
Hundreds of such games are scheduled each year, with the Division II teams winning at about the same percentage as the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters. For the Division I schools, the games provide a warm-up for the upcoming season without putting their record or prestige in any real jeopardy. The Division II schools get a game against a big-time team in a big-time gym and a check to help fund the rest of the season.
They also get better. Hopefully, that improvement shows when they pick on somebody their own size.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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