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OU basketball: Lon Kruger played with intensity, now he's trying to instill that in Sooners

Former Kansas State teammate Bob Chipman swears Lon Kruger is so intense that one day he could see smoke coming out of Kruger's nose one day in practice. The first-year Sooner coach is trying to help his players develop that kind of intensity and mental toughness.
BY MIKE BALDWIN Published: February 12, 2012

“What that means to us (as a staff) is having better habits defensively, blocking out every time a shot goes up, getting to loose balls, setting better screens, executing better. That's our objective.”

The crux of the coaching staff's message is every possession is valuable.

“He's still pushing, still harping on those things,” said point guard Sam Grooms. “He says those type of things every single day. Inside the locker room and film room he shows we have more in our tank. People are only seeing half of what (we're capable of).

“We're taking 14 or 15 plays off and losing by three (points). We were up on Kansas. We were up on Baylor. Until we knock those (bad) plays off, we're not going to win (consistently).”

Kruger has stressed a strong work ethic is only half the battle. Developing a mental toughness is essential.

“There are a lot of close games where we didn't play nearly as well as we could have,” said forward Romero Osby. “Every one of us knows we can do more. That's what he demands of us. He's trying to get to us to a point we expect to win.”

To reach the next level, the Sooners must develop some of the traits Kruger displayed as a player.

“We've made some progress but it hasn't translated into as many wins as we'd like,” Kruger said. “Everyone wants to win. There really is no satisfaction coming close. It still hurts to lose games. We have to change that.”