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Oklahoma players relieved to have a new coach in place

Kruger met with team on Sunday night, first practice is Tuesday afternoon.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: April 5, 2011 at 9:37 am •  Published: April 4, 2011

photo - OU / INTRODUCE / INTRODUCTION: University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, left, looks on as new men's college basketball coach Lon Kruger is introduced as the new University of Oklahoma men's basketball coach on Monday, April 4, 2011, in Norman, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
OU / INTRODUCE / INTRODUCTION: University of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, left, looks on as new men's college basketball coach Lon Kruger is introduced as the new University of Oklahoma men's basketball coach on Monday, April 4, 2011, in Norman, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

Kruger is well known in these parts by fans who have followed the conference dating back to its Big Eight roots. But for players ages 18 to 21, they surfed the Internet over the weekend when word spread Kruger was their new coach.

A two-time Big Eight Player of the Year at Kansas State, Kruger has led teams to 13 NCAA Tournaments. He took Florida to the Final Four and Kansas State to the Elite Eight.

"He's got a great resume," said forward Andrew Fitzgerald, who will be OU's leading returning scorer next season. "He knows what he's doing. He's won everywhere he's been."

Kruger coached the Atlanta Hawks for 21/2 seasons.

"That means a lot to me," Osby said. "For him to have a dab of (NBA) experience, I need to really listen to this man because he's been to the level I want to be at."

Kruger has been informed he's inheriting a team with a good work ethic but understands players have gone through an emotional three weeks.

"They really liked Coach Capel. I totally understand that. I like coach Capel," Kruger said. "It's tough on players. Last night, I really liked their approach, their eagerness to get started."

Three weeks after being told Capel was no longer leading the program, the Sooners finally have a new coach.

"It was a little tedious," Pledger said. "I'm glad it's over. And I think we got a great coach. "


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