LON KRUGER Immediately prior to coming to Norman, Kruger compiled a stout 161-71 (.694) record in his seven years at UNLV. He coached the Runnin’ Rebels to the NCAA Tournament four of his last five seasons after the program appeared in only two of the previous 15 tournaments, and also helped achieve UNLV’s first national ranking since 1992-93. Over his final five seasons in Las Vegas, Kruger’s teams posted a .743 winning percentage (127-44) and averaged 25.4 victories. His 2006-07 squad won 30 games and advanced to the Sweet 16. He took over a UNLV program in 2004 that had gone through a period of significant instability with nine different head coaches in the previous 13 seasons. Over that span, UNLV made just two NCAA Tournament appearances, both first-round exits. The success of the program during Kruger’s tenure was reflected in the crowds in Las Vegas. UNLV’s 2009-10 attendance numbers at the Thomas & Mack Center were the largest since Jerry Tarkanian’s final season (1991-92), and the Runnin’ Rebels were No. 18 overall in attendance and No. 1 on the West Coast. Kruger’s overall college mark stands at 514-332 with 18 postseason appearances in 27 years. He owns a 14-14 record in NCAA Tournament games and is 8-6 all-time in first-round contests, including wins in five of the last eight. He has also compiled 13 20-plus-victory seasons. Kruger, 60, began his head coaching career in the 1982-83 season at Texas-Pan American, where he compiled a four-year mark of 52-59, including a 20-8 record in the final season. From there, he left for his alma mater of Kansas State where he was 81-46 (.638) in four seasons. Each of his K-State squads qualified for the NCAA Tournament, and the 1988 team was one of the best in the school’s history with 24 wins and a trip to the Elite Eight. Kruger then moved to Florida, where he led the Gators to a 104-80 (.565) mark with an appearance in the 1994 Final Four. After six years in Gainesville, he went to Illinois for a four-year run with the Illini. His teams were 81-48 (.628) with three NCAA Tournament appearances. A four-year stint in the NBA — three as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks (69-122) and one as a New York Knicks assistant — followed before he returned to the college ranks at UNLV in 2004.
u Lon and Barbara Kruger
As a player, the native of Silver Lake, Kan., helped lead the Wildcats to back-to-back Big Eight Conference titles in 1972 and 1973. After being touted as the Big Eight’s Sophomore of the Year in 1972, he was honored as the league’s best player in 1973 and 1974. He ranks 19th on the school’s career scoring list with 1,063 career points and has the fourth-best career free throw percentage (.826) in school history. As a senior, he averaged 17.6 points per game and ranks in the top 20 on the school’s career scoring average list with a 13.3 points-per-game average. His best single-game scoring total was 37 points vs. Colorado as a senior. Kruger was selected to the all-time Big Eight Team (third team) and was named “Mr. Hustle” all-time in the Big Eight. An Academic All-American as a senior, he also earned All-Big Eight academic honors two times and was the first player to capture Kansas State’s coveted Porky Morgan Most Inspi-
KRUGER’S ACCOLADES u Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award recipient, 2012 u Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award finalist, 2009 u Mountain West Conference and USBWA District VIII Coach
of the Year, 2008 u USBWA National Coach of the Year Award finalist, 2008 u ESPN 920 AM Sportsman of the Year, 2007 u Topeka and Shawnee County Sports Halls of Fame inductee, 2006 u Kansas State University Hall of Fame inductee, 2003 u NABC Silver Anniversary Team selection, 1999 u State of Kansas Hall of Fame inductee, 1999 u State of Illinois Collegiate Coach of the Year, 1997 u Naismith National Coach of the Year Award finalist, 1994 u SEC Coach of the Year (AP and coaches), 1994 u NABC District Coach of the Year, 1988 & 1994
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