Oct. 20, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was a homecoming of sorts for Lon Kruger on Thursday. The first-year Oklahoma men's basketball coach made an early morning trek to Kansas City to talk about the upcoming hoops season during Big 12 Basketball Media Day.
Kruger, a native of Silver Lake, Kan., who starred as a player and later coached at Kansas State, saw plenty of familiar faces inside the Sprint Center. While much of the talk revolved around the 2011-12 Sooners, Kruger was also asked about returning to his Big Eight/Big 12 roots.
"I've referred to it as the Big Eight several times by mistake," Kruger said with a smile. "It is back to the roots, growing up just a few miles down the road here from Kansas City. It feels very much like coming back home."
Joining the veteran head coach, who is just 21 wins shy of 500 for his career, in answering questions about the fast-approaching season were OU junior forwards Andrew Fitzgerald and Romero Osby.
The Sooners now have six practices under their belt as they prepare for their Nov. 1 exhibition opener against Northeastern (Okla.) State. Kruger and his staff encourage fans to attend Saturday's practice (1-3:30 p.m.) inside Lloyd Noble Center. Fans should enter the arena via the southeast doors, next to the Bob and Ann Coleman Men's Basketball Center.
Read below for extensive coverage of OU's stop at Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City.
|OU Player Video|
|Coach Lon Kruger Quotes|
On the start of his first season at OU:
"It's a great time of year. I think for a coach, the first two or three weeks of practice might be the most enjoyable. You see guys come together, especially in a first-year situation like we're in, you get to know the guys a little bit better. You see them develop individually, see them meshing together as a group and, of course, guys are very enthusiastic and have worked very hard in preseason. They're anxious to have a good basketball team and their effort has demonstrated that."
On his expectations for wins and losses:
"Every program in the country has the goal of playing in the NCAA Tournament, and that's healthy. We expect our guys to have that same goal. We realize we have to do a lot of things really well to have a chance to accomplish that. The things we can control are playing unselfishly, playing extremely hard, being good teammates and making progress every day. The wins and losses really take care of themselves. We really try to emphasize to our guys to enjoy today, and then tomorrow. Don't worry so much about March at this point. We'll worry about March when it comes. Right now we just want to get better today, and then try to do that again tomorrow."
On OU's guards:
"In college basketball you need good guard play. Obviously you'd like good guard and inside play. But without guards, it's a hard game. When you're handling pressure, when you're in late-game situations, you need experienced play at the guard spot. The experience Carl Blair gained last year will hopefully help him. Sam Grooms comes in from junior college and those two will handle the point duties and hopefully give us great direction."
On his team's practices being open to the public:
"We just want people to know that we want them there. They're welcome anytime, and we've had a lot of people at practice already to share ownership in the program. We had over 100 former players and coaches come back for an alumni event in August. We just want people to enjoy the process, jump on board and have a good time."
On if it's too early to nail down a starting five:
"Oh, for sure, for sure. We've got eight or nine who will mix it up pretty good. We need those guys who scored last year to step up and do it again. Andrew Fitzgerald, Steven Pledger and Cameron Clark are our three leading returning scorers and we need those guys to do it again."