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Lon Kruger has a knack for uniting people

By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, Published: July 10, 2011

Every time Lon Kruger invited teammates to his home in Silver Lake, Kan., 40 miles from Kansas State's campus, they didn't need to be asked twice.

“They would butcher a cow, and boy we ate,” said teammate Ernie Kusnyer. “It was only about an hour (from campus) if we took the back roads.”

Nearly four decades later, Kruger has kept the group together. In May, Kruger hosted teammates from Kansas State's 1972-73 Elite Eight team at his home in Las Vegas.

The reunion brought back memories from their playing days when Kruger and company would spend the holidays, spring break or weekends at his parents' house.

Bob Chipman, head coach at Washburn (Kan.) for 32 years, is closing in on 700 career wins. Chipman, from Flint, Mich., said those weekends at Kruger's home were greatly appreciated by players far from home.

“His Mom would put out a big spread,” Chipman said. “To have us all come out to Las Vegas shows you what a great teammate he still is almost 40 years later. He just has a knack for bringing people together.”

Everywhere Kruger has coached, he's made it a priority to reconnect the program with former players and coaches.

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