Lon Kruger
Biographical details
Born (1952-08-19) August 19, 1952 (age 69)
Silver Lake, Kansas
Playing career
1971–1974Kansas State
Position(s)Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1976–1977Pittsburg State (assistant)
1977–1978Kansas State (assistant)
1979–1982Kansas State (assistant)
1982–1986Texas–Pan American
1986–1990Kansas State
1990–1996Florida
1996–2000Illinois
2000–2003Atlanta Hawks
2003–2004New York Knicks (assistant)
2004–2011UNLV
2011–2021Oklahoma
Head coaching record
Overall674–432 (.609) (college)
69–122 (.348) (NBA)
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
2 NCAA Division I Regional—Final Four
(1994, 2016)
Big Ten regular season (1998)
2 MWC Tournament (2007, 2008)
Awards
SEC Coach of the Year (1992, 1994)
MWC Coach of the Year (2008)
Big 12 Coach of the Year (2014)
Big Eight Player of the Year (1973, 1974)

Lonnie Duane Kruger (born August 19, 1952) is a retired American college and professional basketball coach who was most recently the men's basketball head coach of the University of Oklahoma. Kruger played college basketball for Kansas State University. He has served as the head coach of the University of Texas–Pan American, Kansas State, the University of Florida, the University of Illinois, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as well as the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Kruger was one of only three coaches ever (the others being Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith) to lead five programs to the NCAA Tournament. His teams have participated in 17 NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Fours (1994 with Florida; 2016 with Oklahoma).

Early life

Kruger at Kansas State with coach Jack Hartman.
Kruger at Kansas State with coach Jack Hartman.

Kruger was born and raised in Silver Lake, Kansas. As a point guard, Kruger led the Kansas State Wildcats to back-to-back Big Eight championships in 1972 and 1973 under coach Jack Hartman. Kruger was named the Big Eight Player of the Year in 1973 and 1974, after being named the Big Eight Sophomore of the Year in 1972. He was also a shortstop on the Kansas State baseball team.

He was a ninth-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the 1974 NBA Draft.[1] Kruger also tried out with the Detroit Pistons, and played professionally in Israel. He also played a season of minor league baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization and was invited to training camp with the Dallas Cowboys as a quarterback.[2]

Head coaching career

Kansas State

As basketball coach of the Wildcats, Kruger led K-State to the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons as head coach and the Elite Eight in 1988 — a team featuring future NBA players Mitch Richmond and Steve Henson — before losing to archrival Kansas Jayhawks, the eventual national champion.

From Kansas State, Kruger moved south to the University of Florida, taking over a program that had limited success not only nationally, but in the Southeastern Conference.

Florida

In his six seasons with Florida, Kruger compiled a 104–80 mark. In the process, he led the University of Florida to its first Final Four appearance in 1994.

He was named SEC coach of the year in 1992 and 1994.

Illinois

Kruger accepted the vacant position at Illinois. While there, he became the only Big Ten coach to successfully sign three consecutive Illinois Mr. Basketball winners, after inking Sergio McClain, Frank Williams, and Brian Cook between 1997 and 1999.

UNLV

Kruger accepted the job at UNLV in 2004. His son, Kevin, took advantage of a new NCAA rule, called Proposal 2005–54,[3] before the 2006–2007 season to transfer from Arizona State and immediately play for his father at UNLV without sitting out one year. The controversial rule was repealed for the following season due to what some claimed were the unintended consequence of allowing players with undergraduate diplomas to immediately begin playing for another school without sitting out for any time.[4]

In 2007, Kruger led the Runnin' Rebels to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, which was the team's first trip there since Jerry Tarkanian led it in 1991.

On February 9, 2008, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels beat Colorado State 68–51 at home for Kruger's 400th career win.

Oklahoma

On April 1, 2011, Kruger accepted the head coaching position with the Oklahoma Sooners, replacing the fired Jeff Capel.[5][6][7] Kruger's new compensation package reportedly exceed $2.2 million annually.[7] Despite his success, he was not immune to criticism, having won just one regular season conference championship in his lengthy college coaching career (Illinois tied for the Big Ten title in 1997–98).[8][9] However, Kruger has generally enjoyed a positive reputation.[10]

On November 30, 2012, Kruger earned his 500th career head coaching victory as the Sooners beat Northwestern State 69–65 in Norman.[11]

On March 17, 2013, Kruger became the only head coach in Division I history to lead five programs to the NCAA tournament when the Sooners were named a No. 10 seed in the South region.[12] The feat was later matched by Tubby Smith in 2016 when he took Texas Tech to the tournament.

On March 20, 2015, Kruger became the only head coach in Division I history to win an NCAA tournament game with five programs. He is one of four active coaches who have had three teams in the Elite Eight.[13]

Kruger reached his second career Final Four, this time with Oklahoma, in 2016.

On February 25, 2017, Kruger earned his 600th career head coaching victory as the Sooners beat Kansas State 81–51 in Norman.

After 10 seasons at OU and zero Big 12 championships, it was announced on March 25, 2021 that he planned to retire.[14]

Professional coaching

Prior to accepting the head coaching position at UNLV in 2004, Kruger was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. It was as head coach of the Hawks that Kruger guaranteed season-ticket holders in 2003 that the Hawks would make the playoffs or get a $125 refund. The Hawks failed to make the playoffs and Kruger was fired midway through the 2002–2003 season.

Kruger was an assistant coach under Rudy Tomjanovich for the US national team in the 1998 FIBA World Championship, winning the bronze medal.[15]

Head coaching record

College

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Texas–Pan American Broncs (NCAA Division I independent) (1982–1986)
1982–83 Texas–Pan American 7–21
1983–84 Texas–Pan American 13–14
1984–85 Texas–Pan American 12–16
1985–86 Texas–Pan American 20–8
Texas–Pan American: 52–59 (.468)
Kansas State Wildcats (Big Eight Conference) (1986–1990)
1986–87 Kansas State 20–11 8–6 4th NCAA Division I Round of 32
1987–88 Kansas State 25–9 11–3 2nd NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1988–89 Kansas State 19–11 8–6 3rd NCAA Division I Round of 64
1989–90 Kansas State 17–15 7–7 4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
Kansas State: 81–46 (.638) 34–22 (.607)
Florida Gators (Southeastern Conference) (1990–1996)
1990–91 Florida 11–17 7–11 6th
1991–92 Florida 19–14 9–7 2nd (East) NIT Semifinal
1992–93 Florida 16–12 9–7 3rd (East) NIT First Round
1993–94 Florida 29–8 12–4 T–1st (East) NCAA Division I Final Four
1994–95 Florida 17–13 8–8 3rd (East) NCAA Division I Round of 64
1995–96 Florida 12–16 6–10 5th (East)
Florida: 104–80 (.565) 51–47 (.520)
Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten Conference) (1996–2000)
1996–97 Illinois 22–10 11–7 4th NCAA Division I Round of 32
1997–98 Illinois 23–10 13–3 T–1st NCAA Division I Round of 32
1998–99 Illinois 14–18 3–13 11th
1999–00 Illinois 22–10 11–5 5th NCAA Division I Round of 32
Illinois: 81–48 (.628) 38–28 (.576)
UNLV Runnin' Rebels (Mountain West Conference) (2004–2011)
2004–05 UNLV 17–14 7–7 4th NIT Second Round
2005–06 UNLV 17–13 10–6 4th
2006–07 UNLV 30–7 12–4 2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2007–08 UNLV 27–8 12–4 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 32
2008–09 UNLV 21–11 9–7 5th NIT First Round
2009–10 UNLV 25–9 11–5 T–3rd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2010–11 UNLV 24–9 11–5 3rd NCAA Division I Round of 64
UNLV: 161–71 (.694) 72–38 (.655)
Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 Conference) (2011–2021)
2011–12 Oklahoma 15–16 5–13 8th
2012–13 Oklahoma 20–12 11–7 4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2013–14 Oklahoma 23–10 12–6 2nd NCAA Division I Round of 64
2014–15 Oklahoma 24–11 12–6 T–2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
2015–16 Oklahoma 29–8 12–6 3rd NCAA Division I Final Four
2016–17 Oklahoma 11–20 5–13 9th
2017–18 Oklahoma 18–14 8–10 T–8th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2018–19 Oklahoma 20–14 7–11 T–7th NCAA Division I Round of 32
2019–20 Oklahoma 19–12 9–9 T–3rd NCAA Division I Canceled*
2020–21 Oklahoma 16–11 9–8 T–6th NCAA Division I Round of 32
Oklahoma: 195–128 (.604) 90–89 (.503)
Total: 674–432 (.609)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

*The 2020 NCAA tournament was canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

NBA

Legend
Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Atlanta 2000–01 82 25 57 .305 7th in Central Missed Playoffs
Atlanta 2001–02 82 33 49 .402 6th in Central Missed Playoffs
Atlanta 2002–03 27 11 16 .407 (fired)
Career 191 69 122 .361

See also

References

  1. ^ "1974 NBA Draft".
  2. ^ "Ranking 2019 NCAA tournament coaches as players, 1-68". March 18, 2019.
  3. ^ "Kruger transfers to play for father", Associated Press, July 10, 2006
  4. ^ Kantowski, Ron (January 7, 2007). "Ron Kantowski eulogizes a 'wacko' NCAA rule that, while used innocently enough by UNLV's Lon and Kevin Kruger, left the door open for 'unintended consequences'". Las Vegas Sun. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  5. ^ Ryan Greene, "Lon Kruger changes course, accepts head coaching position at Oklahoma," Las Vegas Sun (April 1, 2011). Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  6. ^ Matt Youmans, "Kruger leaves UNLV, heads to Oklahoma," Las Vegas Review-Journal (April 2, 2011). Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Kruger leaving UNLV for Oklahoma[dead link]," The Los Angeles Times (April 2, 2011). Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  8. ^ GoAZCats.com Message Board Archived August 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Cougar Board
  10. ^ Championship Week Preview
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 20, 2013. Retrieved March 18, 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ CBS NCAA takeaways
  14. ^ "CBS's Jon Rothstein Twitter Account". Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  15. ^ 1998 USA Basketball Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

Bibliography