Oct. 25, 2011

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NORMAN, Okla. -- One week before playing its first exhibition game of the 2011-12 season, the OU men's basketball team held its annual local media day Tuesday before practice. Head coach Lon Kruger held a 15-minute press conference at Lloyd Noble Center's Kerr-McGee Courtside Club room before players met with media members individually for 30 minutes.
 
Watch Kruger's press conference in the video player above, or read his comments below. Individual player interview video can also be found below.
 
  Head Coach Lon Kruger

Opening comments:
"Thanks for coming. It's a great time of the year for coaches. Especially, as I've said many times, the first couple of weeks of practice are probably the most enjoyable. You see guys individually developing and improving and coming together as a team, no one's worried about playing time or wins and losses. Everyone's kind of on the same page with regard to enthusiasm and moving forward. So it's a great, great time of the year for a basketball coach.

"(The season starts) a week from today; it is hard to believe. Our guys are working hard, enthusiasm is great. When everything is new, with respect to the players, it's a little more difficult. They've got a lot of things on their mind, a lot of things to pick up, different terminology. Guys have handled that really well. They've been very receptive and anxious to get better, they want to have a good basketball team and (have) great attitudes about working hard and being unselfish and working together. All of those things are going in the right direction.

"We need to make as much progress as we can in the next week, and then we'll start after our exhibition opener and try to make as much progress as we can in week two. But that's how this will be -- just week to week, just get better, improve that starting point and have a good time enjoying the process."

On if there are any guaranteed starters:
"I haven't really thought about it very much, quite frankly. There are six or seven (guys) who have been out there the most. Sam Grooms and Carl Blair will share that point guard duty. Which one will start? It may be back and forth; not sure if one will emerge or not. Calvin Newell, Steven Pledger, Cameron Clark in kind of the wing spots -- those three guys between the two wing spots. Tyler Neal and Romero Osby at the four-spot, with Tyler swinging out to the perimeter a little bit. Then Andrew Fitzgerald at the five/four (spots), back and forth, with Casey Arent, Barry Honore, C.J. Washington all backing up Andrew if he's in at the five. So about seven or so seems to be the group that's going to get the majority of the minutes. And we'll back those guys up with all the other guys."

On junior forward Romero Osby:
"Romero is a guy that started with the effort; he's been very consistent with that. He's worked hard every day and he wants to lead by example with regard to effort. He's a guy that brings versatility. He can face up and knock down the jumper, he can score in the low post. We need 'Ro' to be blue-collar, high-energy, get-after-it-on-every-rebound (guy), score in a lot of different ways, defend and be a guy that's going to mix it up on every possession."

On the team's perimeter shooting:
"I think it can be a team that shoots the ball well. Maybe a team -- like most teams -- that's a little bit more streaky than consistent, which isn't as good as being consistent. But we hope to keep improving that to where we can become very consistent from the perimeter. Steven Pledger and Calvin Newell are two guys that have probably shot the ball the best to this point. I think Cameron Clark is going to make some shots from the perimeter, especially mid-range. He may step out and knock down some 3's. Tyler Neal has shot the ball well from 3 up to this point. Probably those four guys have shot a little better to this point than the others."

On expectations going into the season:
"Expectations are pretty much (the same) as they are going to be going into every season for us and that is as it relates to effort, playing unselfishly, being good teammates, playing extremely hard on both ends of the floor, working to earn people's respect with regard to effort, preparation and execution. And again, we've got a long way to go in all those areas, but I like the starting point. I like their attitude about it and I know they want to do well in all those areas."

On if he talks about making the NCAA Tournament:
"Not anymore here than anywhere else, or less here than anywhere else. I think every team in the NCAA field should expect and have as a goal to play in the NCAA Tournament. That's our goal, that's a goal of every team in the Big 12. So it's not going to be any less or more than any other year. That's going to be the goal every year and I want our guys to expect to do that. We've got a long way to go and we've got to work hard to earn that opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, but that's the goal of every D-1 basketball player and every D-1 program in the country."

On if this team will be a good transition team:
"This team will get out and get after it, yeah. We've got to be a little bit more genuine with our effort consistently on the defensive end and we've got to keep growing. We've gotten better in the last nine days and we've got a ways to go in that area. Everyone wants to run, but it's hard to run. Coach (Billy) Tubbs' teams were running back in the 80's and they were doing it very well. But it also takes great effort and great focus and sincere interest in working that hard. Our guys are moving in that direction with regard to the sincerity part of it, but we've got a ways to go. They want to run, they want to push it. But again, you've got to rebound the ball to do that and we've got a long way to go in getting a genuine commitment across the board -- guards, bigs -- everyone's got to do that by committee since were aren't very big from a size standpoint."

On how the Sooners will approach rebounding with their lack of size:
"Just doing it by committee, just by being committed to it every time, all five guys on the floor. Guards have to go back in there and get some deep rebounds, pick up some loose balls off the boards; not just relying on one or two big guys to do that. You make up for it by doing it as a group of five on the floor."

On if the lack of size will pose a problem defensively:
"There will be some people bigger than us at times. We'll have to do a good job of helping in the post, sometimes doubling. When you do that you have to zone up behind and do a good job of recognizing where shooters are when they throw it out of the post. A good team effort can help out there."

On junior point guard Sam Grooms:
"Sam is a guy from junior college. He is used to winning and he's run a ball club. Again, I think he and Carl (Blair) will do a good job with the point duties, giving us good direction on both ends of the floor. Sam can break defenses down, drive and kick, knock down jumpers. He's a good communicator verbally on the floor and we expect that out of our point guards. Both Sam and Carl will do a good job of leading on both ends."

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