Coach Kim Anderson
Kim Anderson has been dreaming of this homecoming for 30 years.
Although the path of the University of Missouri’s new head basketball coach, wasn’t exactly a straight shot to his dream job, Anderson finally has his chance. And it couldn’t feel more right for the former Tiger.
Drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers after finishing his Mizzou career in 1977 under coach Norm Stewart, the Sedalia native played half a season in the NBA, as well as two years professionally in Italy and a year in France. When he returned to the States, he worked as an assistant coach at Missouri and Baylor, made the move to an assistant commissioner role for the Big 12 Conference, and then transitioned back to coaching by heading up the University of Central Missouri basketball program in Warrensburg.
Fresh off a Division II men’s basketball championship win with UCM, Anderson is taking his expertise to Division I for the program he’s always wanted to lead. He knows this season will be a challenge, but he’s not shying away. For Anderson, “challenge” is a word ripe with opportunity and promise.
What has your experience been coming back to Columbia?
The reception has been staggering. Just the response that my wife, Melissa, and I have gotten is amazing. Being a Mizzou grad, this is my dream job. I grew up in Missouri, and this is the ultimate coaching job for me. It’s not Kentucky, Duke or Kansas — it’s here.
When did that dream start for you?
After I finished playing professionally, I came back to Columbia in 1982, and I was a graduate assistant on Coach Stewart’s staff. The more I got into coaching, the more I knew this was what I wanted to do. I even applied for high school jobs. Ironically, I didn’t get them, which is good. I actually ran into a guy who interviewed me for a high school job back in ’83.
And you remembered him?
He remembered me! He introduced himself and said, “I guess I should have hired you!” And I said, “No, you shouldn’t have! You did the right thing.”
Have you always aimed for college coaching, rather than at a professional level?
I’ve never been as interested in coaching professional teams. I like dealing with college kids. My job is obviously to be successful in basketball, but I think it extends to more than that. Most of the kids are in a stage of life where they need to continue to mature and grow, and to learn responsibility.
The most satisfying thing in coaching is obviously winning a championship, but right up there with it is when you watch that kid cross the stage, get his degree, and then go on to be successful. You’ve got to win games to continue to have this opportunity, but you’ve also got to help these young men. You’ve got to help them understand where they’re going. Many of them need a little push.
Since making the jump, what have you found to be the biggest difference between Division I and Division II?
You know, this is the ultimate. This is the top level. This is the state’s school. This is the state’s basketball program. At Central Missouri, it’s more of a regional concept. So, the time demands [in Division I] are higher. You’re also dealing with more highly skilled players here, and you have access to a lot more resources, such as nutritionists, psychologists, a great academic support system, a large compliance staff … and so on. I have a lot of people here.
At Central Missouri, I had two assistant coaches and a graduate assistant. When we were talking about this job, [Athletic Director] Mike Alden said, “You are now the CEO of men’s basketball.” I’ve had to learn to delegate because I simply can’t do everything.
Do you want to do everything?
Yeah, you want to know everything that’s going on. And you can’t do it. There aren’t enough hours in a day. So it’s been a learning experience. I’ve got great people here that are helping me out.
The first thing I had to do was hire people and organize my staff, and now that we’re through that stage, we’re in the implementation phase. We’re still getting to know each other, but it’s been good.
What are you most excited about this season?
The challenge. I love competition, and I love challenges. I am extremely proud of our group of guys — they’ve come a long way since I met them almost five months ago. We still have a long way to go, and it’s going to be a very challenging year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be good.
What are the challenges you see this team facing?
Getting to know each other, putting in a new system, and making some different demands. The three coaches that came before me — Quin Snyder, Mike Anderson and Frank Haith — were all very successful, and they all did it in different ways. So I’m just doing it a different way. It doesn’t mean their ways were better or worse — my way is just different.
What is your way?
I want my kids to be hard-nosed, I want to be solid defensively, and I want to try to guard people. If there’s a loose ball, then they’re going to dive on the floor and get it. And if they don’t, then they’re just not going to play. But I don’t want people to think that we’re just going to try to win 35 to 33. We’re going to push the ball, we’re going to try to run. I want to be fundamentally sound, and I want to be efficient offensively. I don’t want the ball flying in the stands 24 times a game.
It’s kind of basic basketball, the way I learned it. It’s basketball like Coach Stewart played it. I mean, I’m a little different, and we’re two different people, but I learned a lot from him, so people will see a lot of his style in our game.
What core values drive your approach?
Every day we work on the fundamentals, like dribbling and passing. We practice taking care of the basketball, and playing at a faster pace, but also playing at a pace that you don’t turn the ball over. It goes back to Norm’s theory in 1973: Play hard, play together, and get in condition.
What is your approach when it comes to recruiting? What do you tell players who are interested, or maybe not interested?
It depends on the player. Mainly, I talk about three things.
First, I talk about academics. I sell the school. Some kids are really interested in the educational aspect, getting their degree, and starting a career. For some players, their top priority is playing NBA basketball. But I still try to sell them on the educational aspect and the importance of getting your degree. Your chances of playing in the league are not great, and I’m not saying you can’t do it, but you’ve got to have a backup.
I also talk about basketball and the athletics department. I sell player development, what we can do to help you be a better basketball player. We have great facilities. We have an excellent strength and conditioning coach. We have outstanding athletic training. We have a nice locker room, we have a beautiful arena, and we have video technology that can help you get better. Another aspect of that is exposure. We’ve got the SEC Network with 92 million subscribers, and we’re going to be on ESPN nine times, I think, which is the most ever. Every one of our games is going to be on TV. We’ve got media exposure.
Then I talk about the social aspect. Columbia is a great place to live. There’s a vibrancy in this city that I have not seen anywhere else. There are a lot of opportunities to be successful, so you recruit kids differently. The bottom line, though, is you’re always trying to look for that kid who wants to do everything he can to win.
What do you want to be remembered for here at Mizzou? What will Kim Anderson’s legacy be?
You know, I’d like to be remembered as a good coach who had a team that played hard every night. I want to win our share of games, and hopefully a championship, whatever championship that may be. I want to represent the university, represent Columbia, and represent the state well. I grew up here, so I have a lot of Missouri pride in me.
Overall, I just want to be remembered as a good coach.