Oklahoma Basketball: Twelve Days Till the Start of a New Season

Like we did two weeks out from the beginning of the new college football season, we begin the countdown to Oklahoma basketball for 2016-17, with insights, fun facts and story lines building up to the season tip-off on Nov. 13.

Lon Kruger begins his sixth season leading the Oklahoma men’s basketball program. The veteran college coach, in his 31st season as a college head coach, is one of three Big 12 coaches with more than 500 wins (Bill Self of Kansas and Bob Huggins at West Virginia are the other two).

With 590 career wins at the collegiate level, Kruger will reach the 600-win level at some point in the coming season. Amazingly, he has endured only five losing seasons in 30 years of college coaching (and three of those were at Pan American in his first three years as a head coach), and is one of only two coaches in NCAA Division I history to have taken five different schools, including Oklahoma, to the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve got to get the young guys coming in and growing up as quickly as possible.” –Lon Kruger, Oklahoma men’s basketball coach

The 64-year-old Kruger inherited a Sooner men’s program that was in a tailspin at the end of the 2010-11 season and began a rebuilding effort that produced four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and last season landed the Oklahoma men in the Final Four in Houston.

The Sooners went 15-16 overall and finished eighth out of 10 Big 12 teams in Kruger’s first season in Norman in 2011-12. Since that time, Oklahoma’s record under the man that led Kansas State to two Big Eight championships as a player in the early 1970s and later became head coach of his alma mater has been 96-41 (.700) and the Sooners have finished no lower than fourth, and twice in second place, in the final conference standings.

All of this to say, the Sooners are pretty darn fortunate to have Kruger at the helm of the men’s basketball program. In this case, be thankful you got what you wished for.

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