Team preview: UMKC

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all Division I teams. To order the complete 2006-07 edition of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

A hopeful summer based on four returning starters -- including two all-conference players -- quickly came to a halt for UMKC coach Rich Zvosec in mid-August.

That's when Dee Ayuba (14.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 spg), UMKC's second leading scorer last year, tore his ACL during a pickup game.

His recovery time frame was listed as four months, or right before the Kangaroos begin conference play. But that's an optimistic outlook for an injury that often takes a year to heal.

"This changes things for us," Zvosec said. "Dee was a pleasant surprise for us. To do what he did, as a junior college transfer, was something."

Ayuba's surgery went well and "now it's a question of how quickly he responds to rehab," Zvosec said.

Ayuba, who made the Mid-Con's honorable-mention team, is an inside-outside combo senior forward at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds. He was the only Kangaroo in double figures (24 points) in UMKC's MCC Tournament loss to Chicago State.

"Dee could score in the low post," Zvosec said.

"He presented mismatches for opponents because he also made the three-pointer. We're going to miss his versatility."

UMKC tried to gain another year of eligibility for Kalu Guasco (8.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg), who's now playing professionally in Europe, but the NCAA denied the appeal. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward played one season in Kansas City after transferring from Western Nebraska Community College.

That's about it for production gone from last year. Leading the returning contingent is quite possibly the most valuable player to any team in the league.