OU basketball: Lon Kruger's return to Kansas State evokes memories

OU BASKETBALL — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger returned to Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday against his former team. Coincidentally, the game was part of Legends weekend.
by Michael Baldwin Modified: January 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm •  Published: January 28, 2012

Not everyone associated with K-State has fond Kruger memories. Some remain upset Kruger left for Florida in 1990 after four years as head coach, all NCAA Tournament seasons.

Monty Thompson, a 21-year-old senior from Mound City, Mo., partially blames a lengthy K-State basketball drought on Kruger's departure.

“Loyal K-State fans cheer him because he played and coached here but he left K-State in a very bad situation,” Thompson said. “After he left we had 20 years of dark ages of basketball. We lost all the recruits. We struggled to get a really good coach.

“K-State slipped from being one of the best programs in the nation to being irrelevant.”

Kruger and assistant coach Steve Henson, who played for Kruger and also wore the No. 12 jersey at K-State, stopped briefly at the alumni gathering about an hour before tipoff.

“It's definitely a little different but it was good to see a lot of people, some we haven't seen in years,” Henson said. “But it is strange to be playing in this building and be playing against the Wildcats.”

Barrett, known as Mr. K-State, said it's good to have Kruger back in the Midwest. Barrett was K-State's athletic director when Jack Hartman had one scholarship left in 1970.

“Jack was scratching his head. He didn't know what to do,” Barrett said. “At the very last minute he told me, ‘I think I'm going to give it to that kid from Silver Lake (Kan.) the last scholarship.' What a blessing that turned out to be.”

by Michael Baldwin
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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