breaking: Arrest made in connection with March OKC homicideLive video: Day 22 of Oklahoma opioid trial

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OU basketball: Lon Kruger plans to finish career at Oklahoma

Lon Kruger has erased any speculation of a future move. The Oklahoma coach plans to finish his career on the Sooner sidelines.

"We've said that from the start," Kruger told The Oklahoman on Monday. "This is our last stop. We've been super pleased with the support, the administration, the people. There's no reason to change that thought. We said that when we came here initially, and still feel strongly about that today."

Kruger's response was prompted by a Los Angeles Times report Sunday night that he interviewed for the UCLA opening. But Kruger quickly denied having any contact with UCLA.

"Not a single word, thought or any discussion," Kruger said. "And then for that to be reported that there's been an interview is sad. That's where we live today, I guess."

Kruger received several calls and texts when the report dropped. From there he had to reach out to recruits and his current players to explain the situation.

Kruger, hired away from UNLV on April 1, 2011, recently completed his eighth season as OU's coach. The Sooners were eliminated by Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

The Silver Lake, Kansas native has compiled a 160-105 (60.4 percent) record at Oklahoma with six NCAA Tournament appearances. 

“He is truly the best,” assistant coach Carlin Hartman said. “Obviously he’s a great coach. He’s a great mentor to our players. He’s an unbelievable teacher. I think the best part about him is that he’s constantly motivated by making sure it’s about the players.” 

Norman has been Kruger’s longest coaching stop in a career that includes previous jobs at Texas Pan-American, Kansas State, Florida, Illinois the Atlanta Hawks and UNLV.

Now 66 years old, Kruger isn’t searching for the next step. 

“Who you’re working with is always extremely important,” Kruger said. “Enjoying the people that you’re battling with every day is a big part of it. These folks here, from the leadership of President (Jim) Gallogly, to Joe Castiglione, to others in our program and across campus, yeah, they’re fantastic.” 

When asked how much longer he'll coach, Kruger said he doesn't have a number in mind. 

"No thoughts about it," he said. "We're focused on the recruiting, the guys that are here. No thought other than that."

OU’s 2019 recruiting class is ranked 16th nationally, headlined by four-star point guard De’Vion Harmon from Denton, Texas. 

The six-man class will join a returning core of Kristian Doolittle, Brady Manek and Jamal Bieniemy. Hartman said the look of next season’s roster has only reinvigorated Kruger.

“Coach is a lifer,” Hartman said. “He’s still got that fire burning.” 

Related Photos
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger applauds his team during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger applauds his team during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d9b12ffa8daa5df0611f9fdfae5d11bc.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger applauds his team during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)" title="Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger applauds his team during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)"><figcaption>Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger applauds his team during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)</figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

Comments