Lon Kruger building coaching staff
NORMAN, Okla. -- Lon Kruger's first day as the coach at Oklahoma involved a lot of time on the phone and a fast and furious start to practice.
Kruger brought assistants Steve Henson and Lew Hill with him from UNLV to oversee his first workout session with the Sooners on Tuesday. Henson and Hill were with Kruger throughout his time with the Runnin' Rebels, and Henson has worked alongside him as far back as his final season at Illinois that concluded in 2000.
Kruger still has one opening on his staff, and he said he's been busy fielding phone calls to fill it.
"Every time you're talking to someone, you're losing ground in terms of catching up on returning calls. But that's a part of it," Kruger said. "The position that's available has piqued a lot of interest and that's a really important part of what we're doing because recruiting players is a big, big part of what we're going to do going forward."
Kruger promised during his introduction Monday that his practices will be open to the public, but NCAA rules forbid that from happening until mid-October. So, instead he talked to reporters after a closed session inside the practice gym at the Lloyd Noble Center.
"You're out there 40 or 45 minutes really shooting shots, so really not a lot of time at it. But you jump right into it and you try to set it just to give them an idea of what the tone of practice will be," Kruger said.
"It'll move very quickly and be a lot of enthusiasm and getting after each other competitively."
The Sooners figure to lose only guard Cade Davis from a squad that went 14-18 this season, winning one more game than the previous season. Last year, there were five underclassmen among the eight players who departed and the program was in disarray.
Kruger's hiring brought a shot of enthusiasm after the firing of Jeff Capel three weeks earlier.
"We're buzzing all day. We're ready to go, man. We're excited about the situation," point guard Carl Blair said.
"It's a new start, a chance to make last year just kind of history. ... Just forget about it."
Players described Kruger stressing the importance of pushing the pace and running drills that involved getting shots up within about 5 seconds.
"We're not really used to being up and run and gun," said forward Romero Osby, who sat out last season after transferring from Mississippi State. "Everybody says they want to play that way, but you've got to be in shape to play that way. We're getting used to it and we're getting adjusted to it."
Osby said his first impression was that Kruger has "mellowed out" after dealing with so many players during his 25-year college coaching career, and that he won't be the type of coach that gets his point across by yelling and screaming.
But this is only the first day.
"We got a chance to see a little bit of every side of him. Well, not every side yet. We don't want to see that bad side yet," Osby said. "But we got to see the good side of him and we got to see how he's offensive-minded and defensive-minded but especially offensive-minded."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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