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For all you Larry Johnson/Stacy Augmon fans

Discussion in 'Open Discussion (Work-safe)' started by wolfamngstsheep, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. Mike Hamrick
    UNLV athletic director turns to Lon Kruger, who has coached 14 years in Big Eight, SEC and Big Ten

    He may not be your choice. He may not be my choice.

    But Lon Kruger -- formerly of Kansas State, formerly of Florida, formerly of Illinois -- is the overwhelming choice of UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick and a cadre of "money" boosters who are prepared to bankroll his run as the Rebels' next basketball coach.

    That, we are told, is all that matters.

    Money talks. Everything else, everyone else, walks.

    Sorry, boys ... WRONG!

    Kruger, 51, will be officially introduced today at a morning news conference on the UNLV campus. You can bet there will be a pep rally-like atmosphere surrounding what, in fact, will be a non-announcement, considering the wide speculation regarding Hamrick's and Kruger's courtship in recent weeks.

    Hamrick, of course, will say all of the right things about his new hire. Kruger, of course, will say all of the right things about his new challenge. Both will stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the more financially prominent fans in the UNLV basketball family, who will say all of the right things about this apparently right decision.

    Then the community will be expected to pump its fist and scream, "All right!"

    If only it was that simple.

    Kruger, who spent 18 seasons as a college head coach before an ill-fated step-up to the NBA in 2000, is going to have to prove himself to "Joe Rebel" -- that is, the everyday UNLV basketball follower who, when he reaches into his pocket, pulls out more lint than loot.

    You know, the fan who doesn't own car dealerships, who doesn't own television stations, who doesn't own a gaming corporation.

    In one word, YOU.

    Lon Kruger is going to have to prove himself to you -- whether or not UNLV's frequently elitist administration cares to admit it.

    Certainly, the soft-spoken Midwesterner is highly respected in college coaching circles. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke glowingly of Kruger in a recent phone conversation with Hamrick, according to one inside source. Kruger also wins within NCAA rules, an absolute must for a program always within striking distance of the organization's Grim Reaper-scythe.

    But the thing is, does he win enough? Will Kruger win enough at UNLV to appease the lowly commoners that Hamrick just has to see -- and soon has to acknowledge -- as being the key to again filling up the Thomas & Mack Center and rediscovering the program's glorious past?

    In his nearly two decades as a college head coach, which began in 1982 with a four-year stint at Texas-Pan American, Kruger won about 58 percent of his games. Hardly impressive, you might say -- until you realize 14 of those seasons were spent coaching in the old Big Eight, the Southeastern and the Big Ten conferences.

    Slightly better competition than what longtime UNLV fans were accustomed to in the days of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association and the Big West.

    During that time, Kruger took nine teams to the NCAA Tournament, including Florida to the 1994 Final Four.

    If Kruger were that competitive in three of the nation's toughest leagues, wouldn't it stand to reason he would be that successful, if not moreso, in the comparatively ho-hum Mountain West?

    Apparently, that is the thinking of UNLV's powers-that-be. Combine that logic with Kruger's spick-and-span image, and the administration/"money" boosters must see this hire as the next natural step in restoring Rebel basketball greatness.

    Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn't.

    You don't know. I don't know.

    What we do know is Lon Kruger, a longtime college coach with a strong résumé, must prove himself to many skeptical UNLV fans -- and, thereby, prove Mike Hamrick's worth as an athletic director.

    Joe Hawk can be reached at 387-2912 or

    Kruger got Mitch Ritchmond to K-state and took them to the Final Four and had them in the top 25 year in and year out during the 80's. He also took Florida to the final four before they were a household name. Kruger is a good coach, although I don't see him taking UNLV to the final four anytime soon.
  2. DaytonBuck

    DaytonBuck I've always liked them

    I don't see it either Wolf. I think UNLV is far removed from the Tark days and it will be tough for them to get back to that level again.
  3. Is that you Jnngrm?
  4. DaytonBuck

    DaytonBuck I've always liked them

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