Clearly, UMKC is still in a rebuilding stage, attempting to find players who fit Head Coach Matt Brown's basketball philosophy. This task has been decidedly tough for the program as of late as the news of fresh transfers seems to be more common than that of new commits. Next season, they will be without two of their top three scorers from 2009-10, as Latreze Mushatt and Trey McKinney-Jones leave for Murray State and the University of Miami, respectively. If you're counting, that's two solid players leaving for one team that pulled an NCAA Tournament upset last season and another which plays in the ACC. Stories like this are indicative of the place UMKC finds itself in at present, but that is not to say there's no hope.
First, the Kangaroos will finally have some senior leadership on the team in the coming season as leading scorer Jay Couisnard and leading rebounder Spencer Johnson enter their final years. Moreover, Kirk Korver will come to play with a season under his belt, and his last name is basketball royalty in the Midwest (meaning he can do things if he's able to play at the small forward position; there were too many times in The Summit League Tournament where he was forced to guard Will Hudson and Keith Benson due to UMKC's lack of height). Finally, the team will move from historical Municipal Auditorium back to its on-campus basketball arena, Swinney Recreation Center. They'll lose a lot of seating capacity in the process, but as we learned by talking with UMKC's student section leader, Aaron Gray, there is hope that the switch will result in better attendance and participation amongst students. Surely more hype around the Kangaroos would be a great thing for Coach Brown as he attempts to bring further stability to Kansas City.
Name of the student section: Roo Crew
Describe the history of your student section. How long has it existed in its current state?
We have had a student section in existence since we went Division I in 1987. We even had a great student section when were an NAIA school for the years up to 1987. Since 1987, our men’s basketball team played at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City while our women’s basketball and volleyball teams called Swinney Recreation Center on the main UMKC campus home. Our student section at Municipal was located behind the basket on the visitor team bench side.This upcoming season, our men’s basketball team is moving their home games to Swinney Recreation Center. Our student section will once again be set up under the basket next to the visitors' bench. With multiple venues, our student section has taken on many forms, but the students seem to enjoy being under or behind the basket close to the visitors' bench. (Note: Jessica Dickson from UMKC Athletics answered this question to provide long-term perspective on the Roo Crew).
Does your student section require/recommend a certain shirt (or shirt color) be worn?
We design a shirt every year, however, students are allowed to wear whatever they want. Usually just blue is fine.
How are tickets allocated for students in the student section?
Members of Roo Crew get their tickets a day or two before the general student population at a designated location.
Where are you located at in the arena, and what is your favorite part about such placement?
Under the basket right by the away team's bench. This positioning allows us to see all the action up close and personal.
What are the two to three biggest games for your student section each year?
The first game of the men's soccer season, homecoming soccer game, and our men's courtwarming game during basketball season.
What struggles does your student section face every year?
Overall participation at men's basketball games because of the increase in tests and other factors in keeping people from attending games.
What are your thoughts on moving home games back to Swinney? What will this do for student attendance?
I am extremely excited! Our games at Swinney produce an overall better student turnout. Also with a limited space the fans are more compact and easier to get to participate.
Describe your most original chant, or a memory of a particular experience in the student section?
At an exhibition game against the University of Kansas, our student section was located at a very high-back corner of Allen Fieldhouse. We had a few good goals against the KU powerhouse. Our little yellow student section started chanting “D...D....D....Defense” during a silent part of the game and we could be heard all across the stadium. Of course this was the year that KU went on to win the National Championship. However, being able to silence the fans of the Jayhawks, ranked number 4 overall, [was great].
Why do you ultimately choose to be a part of the student section at your school?
There are so many perks! I love supporting the athletes at our school; I have been roommates with a basketball player. I am also friends with several soccer players, volleyball players and track athletes. They let me know on a regular basis how much it helps to have a very supportive student section.
- We'd like to extend our thanks to Aaron and Jessica for taking the time to answer our questions about UMKC. Be sure to check out some of the other pieces in this series below.