Walk into Kim Anderson’s office and you’ll notice something is missing.  Anderson, the new leader of Pittsburg State’s men’s basketball program, has a coaching pedigree that includes stops at Baylor University, the University of Missouri and the University of Central Missouri, where his teams earned seven invitations to the NCAA DII National Tournament, two Final Four appearances and a National Championship.

Yet, the only visible office mementos of his past success are three small basketballs tucked away in a back corner, each embossed with a small Mizzou Tiger to commemorate his time at the helm of his Alma Mater’s program.

“I haven’t really had time to think about that stuff,” Anderson said. “And to be honest, I’m not quite sure where to start. I don’t think our Gorilla fans would appreciate stuff from my days as a Mule. Now that I’m in Kansas, I also don’t think it’s wise to put up a lot of Missouri stuff. I’m actually hoping my wife can help me once she moves down from Columbia.”

You can forgive Anderson, or “Coach A” as his players call him, for not spending much time on interior decorating. Announced as Pittsburg State’s newest basketball coach in April, Anderson has a “to-do” list that’s almost as long as he is tall. (For the record, Anderson’s height is 6’7”.)

“This is the third time I’ve taken over a program,” he said. “I’ve learned that you need to start with getting to know the players already in the program. They need to feel comfortable with you. But then you also have to hire staff, recruit players, finalize a schedule, get to know everybody in the community, and get to know the nuances of the job.”

Anderson’s arrival at Pittsburg States comes after a three-year, high-profile stint as head coach at the University of Missouri. In some ways, his coaching career has mirrored that of his mentor, Coach Gene Iba who also led a Division I program before coming to Pittsburg State.

“I was a graduate assistant under Coach (Norm) Stewart at Mizzou when Coach Iba was hired at Baylor,” said Anderson. “Coach Stewart called Coach Iba and said, ‘Hire this guy.’ Coach Iba was like, ‘Wait a minute. Who is this Anderson guy? I gotta check this out.’”

Anderson’s first meeting with Iba led to a second interview and an unexpected request.

“I interviewed with Coach Iba in Lexington, Kentucky at the Final Four. After our first meeting he called me back and told me he wanted to talk again but he had one request. He said, ‘Can you loosen up a little bit?’ I never exactly thought of Coach Iba as a wild guy but, well … the end result was I got the job. I’ve been eternally grateful to him ever since.”

Anderson has kept in close touch with Iba throughout the years. In fact, it was Iba who helped convince Anderson to come to Pittsburg State.

“When this opportunity came up, we talked many, many times,” said Anderson. “He loves this place. He couldn’t say enough about this program, this community and the leadership we have at this university. I didn’t want to leave coaching the way I left at Missouri, but I didn’t want to go just anywhere. It had to be the right fit. Pittsburg State fit the bill. It really was an easy decision.”

The competitive fire burns brightly within Anderson. It’s clear he wants to win, and that drive is shared by everyone associated with his program. But as much as he anticipates success on the court, there’s something he looks forward to even more.

“Winning a national championship is great,” said Anderson. “But my best memories are of getting to see my players cross the stage at graduation. As coaches, our jobs are about much more than just basketball. We help our players develop as men. That’s what I tell them when I recruit them. Basketball may bring them to Pittsburg State, but they’re here for much more.

“When you see a young man develop into a leader and stand there on graduation day in his cap and gown with his family all around him, well, that’s why you coach. There’s no feeling in the world like it.”

As he looks ahead to the coming season, Anderson has a request of members of Gorilla Nation.

“Be supportive and be loud,” he said. “Come to the women’s games, and stay for ours. I think we’ll have a good team. How good? It’s too soon to tell. When it comes to building a program, you’re looking at a marathon, not a sprint. We inherited some outstanding young men. With the new guys we have coming in, I think we’ll be able to build on that and win some games. I’m looking forward to getting the season underway.”