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OU basketball coach Lon Kruger is an agent of change

by Michael Baldwin Published: July 9, 2011
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Your men's basketball program has slipped. Who you going to call?

Lon Kruger.

Your program is hampered by NCAA issues. Who you going to call?

Lon Kruger.

"He's the greatest change agent in college basketball history," said UNLV associate athletic director D.J. Allen. "Lon Kruger is the most proven turnaround CEO in his industry.

"Look at his track record and compare it to the situation OU is in. There's a reason Oklahoma didn't want to take 'No' for an answer."

Kruger, 58, reportedly turned down OU athletic director Joe Castiglione twice before finally accepting the job in April, weeks after Jeff Capel was fired.

In a seven-part series that begins Monday, The Oklahoman breaks down Kruger's career, starting with his playing days at Kansas State, concluding with former players, teammates, coaches and broadcasters weighing in on the impact he'll make at OU.

Getting back to his Midwest roots, growing up in Silver Lake, Kan., Kruger is being asked to resuscitate a program that's coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1967.

"This is so similar to his other situations," said assistant Steve Henson, who played for Kruger at Kansas State. "We'll do it the same way he's done it everywhere. You recruit good kids, unselfish kids. Of course, you need talent. But we always look at the big picture. There are no shortcuts."

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL 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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Questions to answer

How familiar are you with Lon Kruger? Here are 12 questions that will be answered during a seven-part series that begins on Monday:

1. Why was Kruger given the nickname Slick?

2. Which sports could Kruger have turned pro in instead of becoming a coach?

3. What legendary college coach was the Atlanta Hawks' top choice before they pursued Kruger?

4. Name the opponent when Kruger became a pseudo coach at halftime during his playing days.

5. What Kruger coached team benefitted from a summer trip to Australia?

6. Describe the YouTube moment during a game Illinois clinched a tie for the Big Ten title.

7. At what school did a 10-year-old boy approach Kruger during a game?

8. What does Kruger believe are the biggest differences between coaching in the NBA and college?

9. What was the unique promotion Kruger pitched to team officials to pique interest in the Atlanta Hawks?

10. What was Kruger's secret to building a bridge among disgruntled UNLV fans?

11. In what city this past May did Kruger organize a reunion with Kansas State teammates?

12. What was Illinois' conference record the year the Illini upset three top 25 teams to reach the Big Ten Tournament final?

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