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Oklahoma basketball: Sooners have some things to build on

After reaching the NCAA Tournament and winning 20 games, coach Lon Kruger sees some positives.
By Stephanie Kuzydym Published: March 30, 2013
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photo - NCAA TOURNAMENT: OU coach Lon Kruger argues with an official during a game between the University of Oklahoma and San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Friday, March 22, 2013. San Diego State beat OU, 70-55. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
NCAA TOURNAMENT: OU coach Lon Kruger argues with an official during a game between the University of Oklahoma and San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Friday, March 22, 2013. San Diego State beat OU, 70-55. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

After all of his years of rebuilding, Kruger, wasn't quite sure that the way this season ended for Oklahoma is the difference between a newly rebuilt team and one that has been rebuilt for years.

“Certainly our culture was not such that it was to the point of expecting that to happen,” Kruger said. “If we'd been doing this for a few years and going to the tournament for a few years, it's a totally different culture. And that's what we hope to achieve at some point — that you get to that point where just getting to the NCAA Tournament is not at all the goal but playing as long as you possibly can in the tournament.”

Although the humble Sooners coach won't come out and say it, he smiled when asked if when he accepted the position two years he thought this is where this team would be.

“Oh anytime you take over, if you make the tournament you take that and call it all in,” Kruger said. “No question.”

But despite the season-ending collapse, the 20-win season and making their first NCAA Tournament since Blake Griffin patrolled Lloyd Noble Center, the Sooners took other important things from this season, Kruger said.

“One of the things they said when we first took over the program was ‘We want to be significant on campus. We want to be significant in conference play. We want to carry ourselves differently.' And they've done that,” Kruger said.

In a two-year period, with the help of workhorse Osby and the dedication of the rest of the squad, Oklahoma's crowds grew, and students and others around campus began to look at and respect what the team was trying to do, Kruger said.

To him, it was progress.