Team preview: UMKC

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 27, 2004, 5:08 PM ET
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Last year's UMKC's season was downright fickle. And that could be said for the non-conference portion alone.

The Kangaroos suffered road losses at the hands of Monmouth and Youngstown State, and yet destroyed Big 12 foe Kansas State by 41 points at home.

Coach Rich Zvosec doesn't really know what to make of the 2003-04 campaign.

"We had our moments last year," he said. "We definitely were a team of streaks. We'd get three wins, and then drop a couple. We never could quite get over the hump & but we finished the conference strong by winning our last three games."

Not only that but UMKC ousted Oral Roberts in the Mid-Continent Conference quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Valparaiso.

But this was with Michael Watson (23.4 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.4 rpg, 1.4 spg), the Mid-Con's all-time leading scorer with 2,488 points. The 6-1 guard leaves a permanent mark on the program.

At UMKC, Watson ranks first in field goals, three-pointers, steals, minutes and starts. He ranks fourth in NCAA history with 391 three-pointers.

Watson, the conference's leading scorer last year, was a first-team All-Mid-Con pick and All-Mid-Con Tournament pick for the third straight season.

Shooting was one of the areas Zvosec wanted Watson to improve as a senior. So Watson went out and topped 40 percent (.403) for the first time in his career while attempting three fewer shots a game.

"Losing Michael will be a major loss," Zvosec said. "We'll probably have to fill his points by committee. I don't see anyone averaging 23 a night."

Reserve guard Javon Clark (5.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.1 apg) is the only other departed player.

This means a host of players, including four starters, are back.