Republished from the Columbia Missourian
COLUMBIA — Kim Anderson was brought to Missouri to win tournament games, but first he had to win the news conference.
On Tuesday morning, he spoke publicly for the first time since being hired as Missouri men’s basketball coach.
“It took a long time to walk up those stairs,” Anderson said after reaching the podium in the Reynolds Alumni Center. “It took 15 years.”
Anderson was a consideration for Missouri coach in 1999, but athletics director Mike Alden hired Quin Snyder instead.
“As I look back, and I’m not saying this to brown-nose the AD, I wouldn’t have hired me either in 1999,” Anderson said. “I wasn’t ready.”
Four years later, Anderson took the head coaching job at Central Missouri, where he went 274-94 and won a Division II national title in March.
After former coach Frank Haith’s departed for Tulsa, Missouri hired a search firm for $42,500. Alden said the key factors in the search were finding a candidate with character, integrity and a winning history.
“How could you bring all those things together to be able to embody the characteristics that we were looking for to be the leader of our basketball program at the University of Missouri?” Alden asked rhetorically. “We identified the one person that we felt had all of those characteristics and more that could be able to represent our institution, and that was Kim Anderson.”
“There’s also a value added component that goes along with that, too.” Alden added. “How about a person that’s Missouri made?”
The crowd applauded, commending the hire of a Sedalia-born coach who played and coached for Missouri.
The packed house at the Reynolds Alumni Center seemed generally pleased with Anderson’s introduction. His jokes landed, and references to his ties to the Missouri program were especially well-received.
“This is my dream job,” he said. “You all probably figured that out a long time ago. I’m Mizzou through and through.”
“Amen,” an audience member responded.
“This is my home state, this is my alma mater, and I know how special this program is to so many people,” Anderson said. “And it holds that same significance to me.”
Some believe the hire of Anderson, who coached under Missouri’s Norm Stewart, could breach a divide that had existed between Stewart’s supporters and the program under subsequent Missouri coaches.
“The only thing I would say if there was one (a divide), there’s not one anymore,” Anderson said.
Anderson elaborated on the kind of team he hoped to coach at Missouri. He emphasized an aggressive, defense-first approach that he said reflected his own style of play.
“It may be 2014, but smart, disciplined, hard-nosed team basketball never goes out of style,” Anderson said.
Critics of Anderson’s hiring have raised issue with his Division I coaching experience, recruiting ability and his age, 58.
“Apparently, I’m old,” Anderson said. “I really had no idea of that until yesterday, and I gotta tell you, it devastated me. I didn’t think I was old. I work out everyday, I’m in pretty good shape — hey, I’m not playing, you guys.”
In terms of recruiting ability, Anderson said he recruited many D-I players while at Central Missouri.
“A lot of the guys I’d recruit, I always felt like they came into my office singing ‘One Shining Moment,’ because they thought they were gonna go Division I,” he said, referring to the song that accompanies the Division I national championship montage each year.
However, Anderson said he convinced those players to come to his D-II school, because they would have the opportunity to win a championship.
Anderson said he first heard from the search firm on April 19, while he was biking on the Katy Trail near Windsor. He said Alden interviewed him at his home in Warrensburg. Anderson met with Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin on Saturday.
Anderson said he received the job offer via telephone around 2:15 p.m. Monday.
“It was a pretty exciting ride from Warrensburg to Columbia, to think that you were gonna be the coach at your alma mater,” he said.
Alden said Anderson’s contract is for five years, with $1.1 million guaranteed per year. With incentives, that total has the potential to reach $2 million. Specific details will be released in a week or so, Alden said.
Anderson met with his new team Monday afternoon. Current Missouri players Ryan Rosburg and Keanau Post were in attendance for the news conference. Post was happy with Anderson’s first public comments.
“It reassures my thoughts of him,” Post said. “He’s real passionate. You could see it today during his press conference. This is good.”