Lon Kruger Era Begins Tuesday Night

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
OCTOBER 31, 2011

Nov. 1, 2011

  Lon Kruger
 Oklahoma (0-0) vs. Northeastern State (0-0) 
 Date & Tip Time  Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 7:07 p.m. CT
 Location  Norman, Okla. | Lloyd Noble Center | Seating Views
 Tickets  $5, $10 and $20; Free to OU students with OU I.D.
 OU Athletics Ticket Office

 Sooner Sports Network 
 Cox 3/703 in Oklahoma City and Tulsa

 Radio  Sooner Radio Network 
 KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City
 KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa
 KREF AM 1400 in Norman
 Webcast  SoonerSports.com
 Live Stats  SoonerSports.com GameTracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (PDF)

Lon Kruger
will patrol the sideline for the first time as OU head coach when the Sooners host Northeastern State in an exhibition game Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center. The contest, OU's first of two exhibition game this season, is scheduled to tip at 7:07 p.m. CT and will air on the Sooner Radio Network (KOKC AM 1520 in Oklahoma City; KTBZ AM 1430 in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Mike Houck announcing (it will be joined in progress following Sooner Sports Talk with Bob Stoops). The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network (Cox Cable 3 and 703 in Oklahoma City and Tulsa) with Bob Carpenter and Billy Tubbs calling the action. A live webcast will be offered for free on SoonerSports.com.

• Tickets are available for $5, $10 and $20 at the OU Athletics Ticket Office and online at SoonerSports.com. Lloyd Noble Center's north and east ticket windows will open at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
• OU students who present a valid school I.D. will be admitted to Tuesday's game free of charge (lower north entrance).

• Oklahoma announced Lon Kruger as its 14th head men's basketball coach on April 1. The 2011-12 season will mark the 26th year as a collegiate head coach for Kruger, who owns a 479-304 (.612) career record. A two-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year at Kansas State (1973 and '74), Kruger compiled a 161-71 (.694) record the last seven seasons at UNLV, including a 127-44 (.743) mark the last five years for an average of 25.4 wins. Oklahoma is his sixth collegiate coaching stop. He owns a 14-13 NCAA Tournament record and is one of two coaches to lead four programs to multiple wins in the event. Kruger coached his 1988 Kansas State team to the Elite Eight, his 1994 Florida team to the Final Four and his 2007 UNLV team to the Sweet 16.
• Kruger brought with him from UNLV assistant coaches Steve Henson and Lew Hill, as well as director of basketball operations Mike Shepherd. Each were with Kruger for all seven years in Las Vegas. Kruger also hired assistant coach Chris Crutchfield, who served in the same capacity the past four seasons at Oral Roberts.

• Thanks to the loss of just one senior from last season (guard Cade Davis), the Sooners return the bulk of their production in every statistical category for 2011-12. That includes 76 percent of the team's points, 76 percent of its rebounds, 80 percent of its assists, 84 percent of its blocks and 79 percent of its steals. OU also returns 63 percent of its 3-point field goal and 79 percent of its free throw production.
• Six of OU's top eight scorers last season were freshmen or sophomores. Those six players accounted for 70 percent of the team's points and 63 percent of its rebounds last year, and all six return for the 2011-12 season.
• Junior forward Andrew Fitzgerald is the Sooners' leading returning scorer (12.6 ppg) and rebounder (5.0 rpg). The 6-8, 247-pounder was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection and recorded at least 15 points 12 times. He started all 32 games and led OU's regulars with his .486 field goal percentage. He also paced the team with 34 steals and 21 blocks.
• The other three returning starters are guards: juniors Steven Pledger and Carl Blair, and sophomore Cameron Clark. Pledger (6-4, 222) started 26 games and averaged 10.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists while making 62 treys and shooting a team-high .851 from the free throw line. He scored 38 points at Iowa State, tied for the most by a Big 12 player in league action. Clark (6-6, 197) started all 32 contests and averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 boards and 1.1 assists in 33.6 minutes per game (ranked eighth in the Big 12 in playing time). He averaged 13.1 points in OU's wins. Blair (6-2, 206) started 25 games at point guard, including each of the final 22, after transferring from New Orleans. He averaged 7.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and a team-high 4.7 assists (ranked third in Big 12). Blair scored in double figures 10 times and handed out at least five assists on 16 occasions.
• Also back are sophomore forward Tyler Neal (6-7, 224), sophomore guard Calvin Newell (6-1, 199), senior forward C.J. Washington (6-7, 228), senior forward Barry Honoré (6-7, 266) and senior guard T.J. Franklin (5-11, 177). Neal and Newell averaged 4.2 and 3.5 points, respectively, with Neal also pulling down 2.3 rebounds per outing and Newell adding 1.5 assists. Washington is the team's lone senior on scholarship and is coming off a rookie year in which he averaged 2.5 points and 3.1 boards in 11.8 minutes a contest. Honoré contributed 1.2 points and 1.0 rebound a game while Franklin totaled four points and two assists in his 12 outings.

 Sooner to Watch 

 Andrew Fitzgerald | Jr. | Forward
 • An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection last season
 • OU's leading returner in points, rebounds, assists and steals
 • Averaged 12.6 points and 5.0 boards per game as a sophomore
 • Led team's regulars with his .486 field goal percentage and shot .740 from foul line after shooting .638 as a freshman


• The Sooners welcome six newcomers to the roster, with three of them expected to play significant roles in 2011-12. Junior forward Romero Osby (6-8, 232) sat out last year after transferring from Mississippi State and, according to former head coach Jeff Capel, was OU's best player in practice last season. In two years at MSU, Osby averaged 4.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in an average of 12.8 minutes a game. Junior college transfer Sam Grooms (6-1, 203) is expected to share time at point guard. The nation's third-best junior college player last year according to JucoRecruiting.com, Grooms averaged 11.1 points and 5.9 assists as a sophomore for national power Chipola College in Florida. Fellow juco transfer Casey Arent (6-10, 227) is the tallest player on OU's roster. He was rated the country's 22nd-best junior college player by JucoRecruiting.com after averaging 19.1 points and 11.4 rebounds as a sophomore for Sierra College in California.
• Also new to the team are Wyoming transfer Amath M'Baye (6-9, 214) and walk-on guards James Fraschilla (5-10, 142) and Jarrod Kruger (6-1, 174). M'Baye, a forward who averaged 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds as a sophomore last year, has shined in early season practice but will sit out the 2011-12 campaign due to transfer rules. Fraschilla is a freshman while Kruger, nephew of head coach Lon Kruger, is a sophomore.

Located in Tahlequah, Okla., NCAA Division II member Northeastern State University is a school of 9,500 students that is independent but will compete in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association beginning in 2012. NSU finished 9-17 overall last year, going 7-6 at home and 2-11 on the road. The RiverHawks are under the direction of head coach Larry Gipson, who is in his 15th year at the school. He owns a 240-158 (.603) record there, and is 525-318 (.623) in 29 years overall.

Northeastern State returns just four players who saw action last year, including three starters. Senior forward Justin Johnson is the team's leading returning scorer (9.3 ppg) and rebounder (5.0 rpg). The 6-7, 230-pounder started 23 contests last year and shot .484 from the field and .387 from 3-point range (24-for-62) in his 27.0 minutes per outing. Junior guard Ethan Anderson started all 25 of his games while averaging 5.0 points and 4.3 boards. Sophomore guard Dee Willis contributed 4.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists while starting 19 games. Junior guard Terance Reaves came off the bench to supply 5.6 points a contest.

Tuesday will mark Northeastern State's first exhibition game of the year. The RiverHawks will also play at Oral Roberts on Sunday before starting their regular season Nov. 11 against West Texas A&M in Wichita, Kan.

Tuesday's game will mark the second time Oklahoma and Northeastern State will meet in exhibition play. In November 2005 (Kelvin Sampson's final season at OU), the Sooners posted a 70-35 win over the then-Redmen at Lloyd Noble Center. Taj Gray paced OU with 26 points (on 12-for-15 shooting) and 11 rebounds while Kevin Bookout added 13 points and 16 boards. The Sooners overcame 0-for-11 3-point shooting and a 10-for-20 night at the free throw line by shooting .556 from two-point range. OU held NSU to .271 field goal shooting, posted a 47-36 rebounding advantage and forced 23 turnovers. Sid Melvin led NSU with eight points while Pat Moore added seven points and 10 boards.

The Sooners and RiverHawks have never met in regular season action.

Oklahoma has compiled a 43-2 exhibition record over the last 23 years. Last season, the Sooners beat Northern State (S.D.) University, 75-64, in Norman in their lone exhibition outing. The last time OU lost an exhibition game was November, 2003 (89-82 to Athletes First).

The Sooners will play the second of two exhibition games when they host Division II Washburn on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by the Sooner Sports Network.



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