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Oklahoma basketball: Lon Kruger writing a success story at OU

COMMENTARY — Instead of cleaning house, OU's coach rearranged it. And the team chemistry he's built has the Sooners on the verge of an NCAA Tournament berth.
by Berry Tramel Published: February 23, 2013

But in this regard, you have to believe Kruger. This is straight out of “Remember the Titans.” This is like two teams being merged.

“Our seniors are good people,” Kruger said. “They all want to play, they all want to compete for minutes. They're competitors. But at the heart of it all, they're good people. It's a credit to them.”

Kruger says it's by design that his program recruits good people. But this also is a salute to Jeff Capel. Kruger's predecessor recruited Fitzgerald, Clark and Tyler Neal, whose minutes have largely disappeared.

But give the newcomers credit, too. If Kruger was inserting a bunch of jerks into the lineup, that wouldn't work, either.

“Couldn't be more pleased by the type of people they are,” Kruger said. “It's not like they're thinking about themselves only. They're thinking about the team.”

And so the Sooners are 18-8, 9-5 in the Big 12. OU's only March Madness question is where it will be seeded.

While Drew bemoaned his team's focus, Kruger lauded his team's.

OU made six of its first 10 shots in the first 5½ minutes to take a 19-8 lead. Pledger had eight points and freshman Je'lon Hornbeak six. Eventually, Grooms (15 of 17 foul shooting) and Osby (17 points, eight rebounds) took over, and the Sooners won with ease to sweep a program that in recent years had passed them on the Big 12 food chain.

“This group's done such a good job getting each other ready to play,” Kruger said. “Opened games with good energy, good focus. That doesn't just happen. You have to prepare.”

One team did Saturday, apparently one team didn't, and it's the Sooners who are back in the saddle of Big 12 hoops.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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