Oklahoma basketball: A return to the Field House
Lon Kruger played in the OU Field House as a Kansas State Wildcat and was introduced there as the Sooner basketball coach 16 months ago. Now Kruger will coach in the Field House. OU announced Thursday that the Sooners will play Central Oklahoma in a Nov. 7 exhibition game and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a Dec. 31 regular-season game at the 84-year-old landmark, which has been renamed McCasland Field House.
“We are excited to bring our men’s basketball program back to the heart of campus for these rare appearances at McCasland Field House,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione. “Coach Kruger possesses a great appreciation not only for the history and tradition of OU basketball, but also for this venue, where he competed as an opposing player. He has done an incredible job integrating his team with our students and OU fans everywhere since the moment he stepped on campus. While the Lloyd Noble Center continues to serve as the home for OU basketball, we’re ecstatic to afford this opportunity to create a unique and spirited game environment at McCasland Field House.”
I think it’s a splendid idea. The Field House seats just 3,300, some 800 less than when it was home to Sooner basketball from 1928-75, but that won’t be a big deal. Exhibition games and between-semesters games aren’t big box office draws. The old Field House has a great ambiance, and the renovations of recent years have restored it to a functioning arena. It’s not glitzy, but it’s a fun throwback. A step back in time.
However, I don’t know if the general public will share my enthusiasm. In November 2001, Kelvin Sampson took one of his OU exhibitions to the Field House, because of renovations at Lloyd Noble Center. Only 1,340 fans showed. Here’s what I wrote: “The no-show crowd – 1,340 darkened the door - proved that the market for nostalgia has dropped. Oh, well. Newer digs, like Lloyd Noble, have plenty of parking, padded seats and post-World War II plumbing.” You can read the entire column here.
But maybe Kruger’s ceaseless enthusiasm will help. He played for KSU in games at the Field House in 1972 and 1974.
“This is going to be a lot of fun for our players and fans alike,” said Kruger. “McCasland Field House represents a significant piece of OU basketball history, and my memories of playing there and how tough an environment it was for our K-State teams are quite vivid. Due to its size and how the seats are right on top of the court, the building generates natural electricity. Our players and staff are looking forward to experiencing with our fans, for these two games, that combination of intimacy and raucousness that the Field House produced for so many years.”
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