NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma officially welcomed Lon Kruger to Norman with an introductory rally at the McCasland Field House on campus Monday afternoon.
University of Oklahoma President David Boren, Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione and Kruger's wife, Barbara, joined the Sooners' new head men's basketball coach on the podium.
Kruger met with the media immediately following the event for his first press conference as OU's head coach. View a photo gallery and video from Monday's event. Additional coverage is available via the links below.
Mossman: Don't Underestimate Kruger
Kruger Hiring Announcement
Lon Kruger Bio
OU Men's Basketball
OU Welcomes Lon & Barbara Kruger (OU Facebook)
More Kruger Introductory Photos (Ty Russell)
Coach Kruger Photo Gallery (OU Facebook)
OU Welcomes Coach Kruger, Barbara to Norman
One-on-One Interview with Coach Lon Kruger
Coach Kruger Meets Media Monday in Norman
Video: Kruger Meets Media in Las Vegas
Video: UNLV Fans React to Kruger's Departure
Video: CBS College Sports Feature on Kruger
|Coach Kruger Introduction|
"To be here today -- very, very special feelings. Again, we are really, really excited to be a part of the Sooner family. Part of the difficulty in leaving Las Vegas was Barb and I went there seven years ago and thought that would be our last stop. We have had great experiences everywhere we have been and enjoyed the people.
"The leadership in Las Vegas and at UNLV with President Smatresk and (athletics director) Jim Livengood is absolutely outstanding and we really enjoyed that experience, and the quality of people that they are made it somewhat difficult to leave.
"And yet just being here 48 hours or so with President Boren and Joe Castiglione -- tremendous, tremendous people. I'm not telling you anything because you know a lot more about it than I do. I really, really look forward to the opportunity to follow their direction and follow their lead."
On OU's men's basketball program:
"This program has got great tradition so we are not rebuilding it. We are not bringing it back. We just hope to continue what has been very good here for a long time. I know that hearing about the young group of men here from a good friend, Jeff Capel, that they know how to work and their fundamentals are good. We are excited about the foundation and going forward."
On OU's players:
"I met with the guys last night and I heard about their work ethic and about their character and about their desire to really have a good basketball team and do what it takes. After meeting last night I am even more encouraged and more excited and really fired up about getting started.
"I love our starting point. These guys right here are at the center of it and we are going to get after it. I know this: these guys here are going to work really hard for you. They have done that in the past and they are going to continue to do that."
On the key to having a successful basketball team:
"The key to the whole thing, anywhere we've been, when good things have happened is a result of having, number one, good players. There is no short cut to that. It doesn't happen without good players and we've got a great core here. It's going to be fun. We are going to practice tomorrow afternoon and then Wednesday afternoon. Then go on the road because we can start recruiting on Thursday. We are looking forward to that. But even more so, I'm looking forward to tomorrow and Wednesday to get to know these guys a little bit and for them to get to know us. That is at the core of everything."
"I told these guys last night that working really, really hard and having fun can both happen. It's not one at the expense of the other. So we are going to work hard and we're going to have a great time and hopefully you will join up and enjoy it all together. We are really excited about it and appreciate you being here today."
|Coach Kruger With Media|
"I'm so happy and so honored to be here. Being familiar with the Big Eight, now the Big 12, and then being at Kansas State as a player and then as a coach, I'm very familiar with all the terrific players that have come through and all the outstanding teams they've had here. And again, Friday afternoon was the first time we really knew we were going to be out here. With President (David) Boren and Joe Castiglione, there's no doubt, no wonder why so many people have good things to say about them and their leadership and direction because it's very clear that they've done a terrific job. We very much look forward to working with them as we go forward."
On his style of play:
"I don't know if we've got a particular style. We always try to adjust to our personnel, and our function as coaches is to help the players do as well as they possibly can and to put them in a position on the floor where they have the best chance individually and as a group to be effective. Ideally, we'd like to recruit the athletes who like to shoot it and really get after it on both ends of the floor. Push it offensively, attack, be aggressive. Probably even more so considerably than maybe we did in the late 80's at Kansas State. Break when the opportunity is there, but we've pressed that issue a little more here of late, certainly the last seven years in Las Vegas. We want to push it, but we want to take care of the ball, make good decisions. We want to get the most out of each possession we possibly can, and change things up defensively, try to dictate with man(-to-man) being the base, but still make adjustments as we go along with whatever it takes."
On his reputation of restoring programs:
"The thing we do, regardless, is surround ourselves with as good of players as we possibly can, and good people. We've always had a staff of coaches who are very generally interested and motivated out of the well-being for the student-athlete; not only on the court, but off it and in every way. I think in doing that, the players understand that we're motivated out of an interest in helping them. And that is our function with the players, to help them have a great experience. Doing things fundamentally, making progress, developing so we can put as good a team on the floor as we possibly can, because winning is a part of that experience. Experiences are just better when you win. We've always had good players, and we've always had a good staff and that's a pretty simple formula. And I like the core that we have right now. Everyone had commented about how hard they've worked and how generally motivated they are to have a good team, and after meeting with them last night I really believe that to be the case. They're excited to get to work and our job is to help them continue that and add some players to help them accomplish what they're after."
On the challenges of putting a good team together and his views on recruiting a one-and-done type player:
"You're always going to recruit the best players. If we have a one-and-done, that's fantastic. It changes the dynamics a bit, the chemistry. You have to work with that. But you're always going to look for the best players you can get. It's about people who want to be here, people who want to represent in a first-class way, want to get a college degree, even if they're not here throughout the four years. I certainly hope they have a base, academically, when they do leave here so they can come back and get it when their playing days are over. But again, I think through the times, we're really flexible. We don't have a lot of hard and fast rules.
"I told the older guys last night, first and foremost, we just have to communicate. Our function is to help. We can't help you if we don't know what's bothering you. If you have a problem, we're very transparent. Talk to us about it. We're not trying to catch you, we're not trying to judge you. We're trying to help you and we can't do that if you don't talk to us. So we're really about communication. We work hard. We're going to work really hard. Everyone works hard, but we're constructive with it, we're positive with it. I think confidence is as important as anything an athlete has at his disposal and we're really promoting that all the time.
"And the second thing we ask our guys is to really do your best to represent everyone associated with the program in a first-class way. Pretty simple, but it's pretty all-encompassing too. The decisions you make -- the consequences of those decisions -- think about how it represents everyone and really be conscious of representing in a first-class way.
"And then always be on time. I'm not going to be late and make 15-20 people wait on me and we're not going to wait on anyone else. I think it's just considerate to be on time. And really, it's nothing out of the ordinary. If you're a professional businessman, that's what we're helping them prepare for: life after basketball at some point. We want them to be able to go out and compete successfully in the job market, and if you don't take care of habits daily and take care of responsibilities, and if you do get a job, you're not going to have it very long. So it's all about the long-range vision and focus, and to do that well you have to really take care of habits daily. And that's what we're after during the relatively short time they're with us here."
On the players getting a new coach:
"It's really a tough position for them to be in. Anytime you lose a coach, and they really liked Coach (Jeff) Capel, I totally understand that. I like Coach Capel. I really think he's done a terrific job everywhere he's been. But it's tough on players. Joe (Castiglione) and others -- (associate athletics director) Brandon Martin, I know -- have been communicating with them and really kept the players abreast and communication was good. But last night I really liked (the players') approach, I liked their eagerness to get started, I liked their look, if you will. I'm excited to get out there and get after it with them."
On realistic expectations for next season:
"Quite frankly, I don't know that I have an answer for that because we're looking forward to seeing many of these guys for the first time tomorrow. We've caught glimpses on television, but I haven't actually sat down and watched any film at all at this point. I like what people say about intangibles and the effort and the enthusiasm, the desire to get better. And again, I like the fact that they were young and they're going to improve and have a year more experience next season. I do know this: we'll line up, and we'll play as hard as we possibly can. I think we'll play as well as we possibly can, and we expect that to result in winning games. How many? I have no idea."