Oklahoma men's basketball: Sooners know it's time to get down to Big 12 business

Practice picks up intensity as Sooners prepare for Saturday's league opener at West Virginia. Tip is 3:01 p.m. Oklahoma time.
by Stephanie Kuzydym Published: January 4, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma's Steven Pledger (2) tries to control the ball next to Ohio's Walter Offutt (3) during an NCAA college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Ohio at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. Oklahoma won 74-63. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Steven Pledger (2) tries to control the ball next to Ohio's Walter Offutt (3) during an NCAA college basketball game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Ohio at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. Oklahoma won 74-63. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

So was that non-conference Lon, and this is “Welcome to the Big 12” Lon?

Pledger slowly grinned, looked down and nodded.

“Yeah,” the senior guard said. “He's more intense. More fire. More sternness.”

Romero Osby called the practice “amped up.”

“Getting ready for Big 12, it's going to be different.” Osby said. “The games are going to be way up here, and the level is going to be high, especially the intensity level.”

For the first practice this season, freshman Buddy Hield, who is known for constantly talking whether he has the ball or is even on the court or not, was outtalked by his head coach.

“Here we go Sam. Now we go here. Look. Look. Now over here. Move. Move. Move.”

Kruger's coaching became the background soundtrack to the practice. The second-year coach would spread his arms wide as he watched his starters defend and then he'd stop the play and call them all back when he saw something to improve upon.

Sometimes in a game, when Kruger sees something his team does wrong and he calls a timeout, his brow will furrow. He'll look like he's about to yell, then in a split second something changes. Instead of yelling, Kruger begins to clap and encourage his players.

By the end of practice, Kruger was clapping and smiling at his players as they smiled back, but a few of the Sooners said they could tell practice had changed.

Lon Kruger meant Big 12 business.


by Stephanie Kuzydym
Reporter
Stephanie Kuzydym learned at a young age that life is a game of inches. That's just one reason why she loves football. Kuzydym joined The Oklahoman in July 2012. Before arriving in the state, Kuzydym was an intern for the sports departments at...
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