OU basketball: Lon Kruger leading record fifth team to NCAA Tournament
NORMAN — Selection Sunday was a day of history — at least for one coach.
When CBS Sports' Greg Gumbel announced Oklahoma was a No. 10 seed in the tournament, Lon Kruger was staring at the video screen inside Lloyd Noble Center and he was smiling.
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Oklahoma's selection into the 2013 NCAA men's basketball tournament makes Kruger the first coach in college basketball history to take five different teams to the Big Dance.
“I don't think too much about it,” he said. “Obviously we've had a lot of good stops. We've been very fortunate. Barb and I have met a lot of people along the way. This wasn't a plan going in. It worked out very well. We have good friendships around the country, and we've had really good players everywhere.”
As family, assistant coaches and members of OU's Tip In club congratulated Kruger, his team passed around a special basketball honoring Kruger's elite status. They signed their names in black sharpie around the logos of the five schools: Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and now Oklahoma — all of which are in this year's tournament.
Only seven other coaches have taken four different teams to the tournament: Eddie Sutton, Tom Penders, Rick Pitino, John Beilein, Lefty Driesell, Jim Harrick and Tubby Smith.
Now, Kruger is in a league of his own.
“It starts with good players and people that are going to work hard,” Kruger said. “That's always the case. Not many teams with players that aren't good get in the tournament. These guys are good players. They work hard. They've worked well for one another.”