Lon Kruger: The Great Communicator

by Michael Baldwin Published: July 16, 2011

Jerry Hester, who played for Kruger at Illinois, said Kruger even has a unique method for correcting mistakes.

“What's funny is coach Kruger doesn't really cuss, but he has a stare,” Hester said. “You'd rather he cuss you out. If you got that stare you knew you were in trouble.”

The key is communication. Kruger encourages players to routinely visit him in his office.

“He's a wonderful communicator,” said Danny Beard, Kruger's teammate at Kansas State. “Players really enjoy playing for him. But his way is the way it's going to be done. He expects them to go to class. He expects them to be respectful, treat people the way they want to be treated.

“It's not an option. It's a requirement. He will hold players accountable. He has a system. You either buy into the system or not. If you don't buy into his system it's probably not the best place for you.”

Those type of ideals appeal to many parents.

Cory Bradford played for Kruger at Illinois. The deciding factor was his mother informed Kruger every coach promised a good education and a chance to play. What else could he offer?

“He told my Mom, ‘Cory will become a good person on and off the court,' ” Bradford said. “That really stood out. He's a player's coach. He doesn't just teach you basketball, he teaches you lessons you'll use your entire life.”


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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