The Big 12’s New Faces: Oklahoma’s Lon KrugerPosted by dnspewak on October 26th, 2011
Lon Kruger: The Essentials
- Previous coaching stop: UNLV
- Career overview: Texas Pan-American (1982-86), Kansas State (1986-1990), Florida (1990-96), Illinois (1996-2000), Atlanta Hawks (2000-2003), UNLV (2004-11)
- Playing experience: Kansas State (1971-74)
- Accolades: Mountain West Coach of the Year (2008), SEC Coach of the Year (1992, 1994), 479 career victories, Big Eight Player of the Year (1973, 1974)
With a coaching career spanning seven states over a period of 35 years, Lon Kruger has seen it all. He turned around an independent in Texas-Pan American in the ’80s; he’s made a Final Four at Florida and led Kansas State, Illinois and UNLV to multiple NCAA Tournaments. He coached the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA and served as an assistant for the New York Knicks, and he’s also a former two-time Big Eight Player of the Year with K-State.
Talk about a good-looking resume. That’s why Oklahoma may have hit the jackpot with Kruger. With 479 victories to his name, Kruger brings his defensive-oriented style to Norman with the expectation of a quick turnaround. He won’t have an all-star roster to work with in his first season, but he’s got a decent core in Andrew Fitzgerald, Carl Blair and Cameron Clark. It’ll take a little time for the group to adjust to his rather unorthodox style of basketball, but don’t expect these Sooners to fall flat after the departure of Jeff Capel.
If there’s any coach who could overachieve with a brand-new team, it’s Kruger. In his five previous coaching stops, he’s finished with a winning record three times in Year One. Forget about his record in the NBA because Kruger has won everywhere he’s ever coached in the college game. Depending on how quickly his team acclimates to his coaching style, Kruger’s team may surprise some folks as soon as this season in the Big 12.
What They’re Saying
“Lon Kruger wins with class… and in the coaching realm, I don’t know if the praise gets any higher. His background, ranging from regular trips to the NCAA Tournament to his time in the NBA, is among the most unique and complete in college basketball.”
-Joe Castiglione, OU Athletic Director