August 19, 1952 |
Silver Lake, Kansas
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Pittsburg State (Asst.)
Kansas State (Asst.)
Kansas State (Asst.)
New York Knicks (Asst.)
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
MWC Tournament Championship (2007, 2008)
Big 10 Regular Season Championship (1998)
SEC Coach of the Year (1992, 1994)
MWC Coach of the Year (2008)
Lon Kruger (born August 19, 1952) is an American college and professional basketball coach who is currently 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).
Lon Kruger was born and raised in Silver Lake, Kansas. As a player, Kruger led Kansas State University 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. As basketball coach of the Wildcats, he led K-State to the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons as head coach and the Elite 8 in 1988 -- a team featuring future NBA'ers Mitch Richmond and Steve Henson -- before losing to the arch-rival Kansas Jayhawks, the eventual national champion.
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 2003 season. Kruger also held head coaching positions in collegiate basketball at the University of Texas-Pan American (1982–1986), Kansas State University (1986–1990), the University of Florida (1990–1996), and the University of Illinois (1996–2000). While at Illinois, he became the only Big Ten coach to successfully sign three consecutive Illinois Mr. Basketball winners, after inking Sergio McClain, Frankie Williams, and Brian Cook between 1997 and 1999. Kruger is one of five coaches to take four different teams to the men's NCAA basketball tournament. In the process, he led the University of Florida to its first-ever Final Four appearance in 1994.
His son, Kevin, took advantage of a new NCAA rule, called Proposal 2005-54, 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 has been repealed for the next season due to the "unintended consequences" of allowing players with undergraduate diplomas to immediately begin playing for another school without sitting out for any time.
On April 1, 2011, sources confirmed that Kruger had accepted the head coaching position with the Oklahoma Sooners, replacing the fired Jeff Capel. Kruger's new Oklahoma Sooners compensation package purportedly exceeds $2.2 million annually. Despite his success, he has not been immune to criticism. Fans of opposing teams point out that Kruger has won just one regular season conference championship in his 25 years of college coaching (Illinois tied for the Big 10 title in 1997-98). Plus the 13 times that his teams have made the NCAA tournament, they have lost in the 1st or 2nd round 10 times. Also, some critics mention his failed venture in the NBA. However, Kruger generally enjoys a positive reputation overall.
On November 30th, 2012, Kruger earned his 500th career head coaching victory as his Oklahoma Sooners beat Northwestern State 69-65 in Norman.
On March 17th, 2013, Kruger became the only head coach in Division I history to lead five programs to the NCAA tournament when his Sooner team was named a 10 seed in the event's South region.
Collegiate coaching record
|Texas–Pan American Broncs (Independent) (1982–1986)|
|Kansas State Wildcats (Big Eight Conference) (1986–1990)|
|1986–87||Kansas State||20–11||8–6||4th||NCAA Second Round|
|1987–88||Kansas State||25–9||11–3||2nd||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1988–89||Kansas State||19–11||8–6||3rd||NCAA First Round|
|1989–90||Kansas State||17–15||7–7||4th||NCAA First Round|
|Kansas State:||81–46 (.638)||34–22 (.607)|
|Florida Gators (Southeastern Conference) (1990–1996)|
|1991–92||Florida||19–14||9–7||2nd (East)||NIT Semifinals|
|1992–93||Florida||16–12||9–7||3rd (East)||NIT First Round|
|1993–94||Florida||29–8||12–4||T–1st (East)||NCAA Final Four|
|1994–95||Florida||17–13||8–8||3rd (East)||NCAA First Round|
|Florida:||104–80 (.565)||51–47 (.520)|
|Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten Conference) (1996–2000)|
|1996–97||Illinois||22–10||11–7||4th||NCAA Second Round|
|1997–98||Illinois||23–10||13–3||T–1st||NCAA Second Round|
|1999–00||Illinois||22–10||11–5||5th||NCAA Second Round|
|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|
|2006–07||UNLV||30–7||12–4||2nd||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|2007–08||UNLV||27–8||12–4||2nd||NCAA Second Round|
|2008–09||UNLV||21–11||9–7||5th||NIT First Round|
|2009–10||UNLV||25–9||11–5||T–3rd||NCAA First Round|
|2010–11||UNLV||24–9||11–5||3rd||NCAA Second Round|
|UNLV:||161–71 (.694)||72–38 (.655)|
|Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 Conference) (2011–present)|
|2012–13||Oklahoma||20–12||11–7||4th||NCAA Second Round|
|Oklahoma:||35–28 (.556)||16–20 (.444)|
National champion Conference regular season champion Conference tournament champion
- 1998 USA Basketball
- "Kruger transfers to play for father", Associated Press, July 10, 2006
- Ron Kantowski, "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 (January 7, 2007). Retrieved December 17, 2009.
- Ryan Greene, "Lon Kruger changes course, accepts head coaching position at Oklahoma," Las Vegas Sun (April 1, 2011). Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- Matt Youmans, "Kruger leaves UNLV, heads to Oklahoma," Las Vegas Review-Journal (April 2, 2011). Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- "Kruger leaving UNLV for Oklahoma," The Los Angeles Times (April 2, 2011). Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- GoAZCats.com Message Board
- Cougar Board
- Championship Week Preview
- Dortch, Chris, String Music: Inside the Rise of SEC Basketball, Brassey's, Inc., Dulles, Virginia (2002). ISBN 1-57488-439-5.
- Koss, Bill, Pond Birds: Gator Basketball, The Whole Story From The Inside, Fast Break Press, Gainesville, Florida (1996). ISBN 978-0-8130-1523-1.