Kruger has been to only one Final Four and one Elite Eight. He's had six losing seasons, although three were building a fledging Texas-Pan American program to start his career.
He's 14-13 in NCAA Tournaments. But considering Kruger usually inherits programs in decline, a .612 career winning percentage is pretty remarkable.
One constant when interviewing more than 30 people for the series was Kruger's impact goes far beyond basketball.
“He's a wonderful human being,” said Danny Beard, his roommate at Kansas State. “There is no dark side. He's a high moral guy, as kind a person as you'll ever meet. He gives to the community not only monetarily but with his time. You can't not like Lonnie.”
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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?