Backgrounder OU Men’s Basketball
The University of Oklahoma Men’s Basketball team is striving for the first National Championship. Through practice and study tables team members are able to learn about basketball as well as advance their academic careers. The team is able to not only provide entertainment to spectators, but also to learn key values as individuals. The goal for athletes is to develop their basketball skills while also developing character.
“Basketball at OU gives a sense of pride not only to the athletes and coaching staff participating in the sport, but also to other students and sports fans.” Head Coach Lon Kruger stated. The OU men’s team claims 21 Conference Titles as well as 26 trips to the NCAA Tournament. They have made it to the final four of the tournament four times, the most recent being in 2002. The OU men’s team has also competed for the National Championship twice, in 1947 and 1988.
The OU men’s team is also a strong financial presence on campus. They are the second largest contributor of revenue, coming in only behind football, among athletic programs. They are also featured on national television multiple times a year providing great publicity for the university.
Each player, coach, and staff member of the University of Oklahoma is governed by one simple mission statement. “The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department inspires champions today and prepares leaders for tomorrow by providing an excellent environment to enable student-athletes to achieve their highest academic, athletic and personal aspirations.” Members of the organization challenge each other to be champions on and off the court.
OU has many other sports programs available for students to participate in as well as for sports fans to enjoy. The university has 21 NCAA recognized sporting events, the most popular of which is football. Competing with the men’s basketball team for recognition is the women’s basketball team, baseball, softball, gymnastics, track and field, rowing, and many other sports. However, according to the fiscal revenue statement from the 2011-2012 school year, men’s basketball is one of the two sports on campus, along with football, that make more money than it costs to run for the University.
OU started its first men’s basketball team in 1907; they had seven games and were over 500 for the season. In 1928, they won their first Conference title in the Old Mountain Valley Conference. In 1939, OU made their first showing in the NCAA tournament and made it to the Final Four. OU played Holy Cross in their first NCAA Championship game, in 1947. OU played their last NCAA National Championship Game against Kansas, in 1988. The last time OU men’s basketball has participated in the NCAA tournament was in 2009.
The men’s basketball team plays and practices at the Lloyd Noble Center on campus. Lloyd Noble opened its doors in 1975 and nearly four million people have come through its doors since. In 2001, the university expanded the south side of the building to include two full-sized basketball courts. This improvement was made to give the men’s and women’s teams practice courts as well as new locker rooms, training facilities, and offices. The official capacity of the Lloyd Noble center is 12,000 people. The largest crowd for the men’s basketball team in history was on December 29, 2003, at 13,431 people.
The University of Oklahoma men’s basketball team also has a tradition of individual recognition. The team claims 30 All-American’s since 1910. Ernest Lambert earned Oklahoma’s first All-American honor in 1910. After him, OU possesses many two-time All-American award winners including; Jimmy McNatt, Gerald Tucker, Paul Courty, Don Sidle, Alvan Adams, Stacey King, Ryan Minor, and Hollis Price. OU also has one player who won 3 All-American awards in 1983, 1984, and 1985, Wayman Tisdale. The last player from OU who was named an All-American was Blake Griffin; he was also named National Player of the Year in 2009 and was the first pick in the NBA draft (SoonerSports, 2013).
The men’s basketball team has a great history of sending its players to the NBA after their careers at OU. Their most recent draft picks were Tiny Gallon and Willie Warren in 2010. OU’s first NBA draft pick was Paul Courty in 1949. Currently, the most well known player from the University of Oklahoma in the NBA is Blake Griffin; he was the first pick in the NBA draft in 2009 by the L.A. Clippers. Griffin was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2011 as well as NBA All-Star in 2011, 2012, and 2013; he also won the NBA Slam Dunk Competition in 2011 (NBA).
The first coach for OU men’s basketball team was D.C. Hall in 1908. He had a 4-3 winning season and he only stayed at OU for one year. Bennie Owen took over in 1909 and stayed at OU until 1921, he had a 68.4 percent winning percentage in his twelve years. The longest stint as a coach at OU was 16 years by Bruce Drake starting in 1939. He had a record of 200-182 games and a 6-3 record in the NCAA tournament. Bill Tubbs is one of the most well-known men’s basketball coaches. He spent 13 years at OU starting in 1981. Tubbs won 333 games as head coach with a winning percentage of 71.6 percent. OU’s current head basketball coach is Lon Kruger, just finishing his second season at OU.
The team film coordinator, Ethan Burton said, “The men’s basketball team is currently on pace to have their best season since the 2008-09 season.” (Burton) OU is currently ranked fourth in the Big 12 Conference with a 7-4 conference record. The team’s goal is to compete in the NCAA tournament in March (Big, 2013). When asked about his team Kruger said, “We’ve got good guys. We’ve got good attitudes. They’re willing to work hard. We’ve got a long way to go…but this group’s got a chance to get better.” (Kuzydym, 2013)
The 2012-13 OU men’s basketball team has 16 players and four coaches. They are currently in their second season with coach Kruger. The team faces the same challenges as any organization with a new leader, learning the new ways. During the 2012-13 season the Sooners had more wins than it has in the last four seasons.
Contact Information for Head Coach Lon Kruger:
Lon Kruger is the head coach of the OU men’s basketball team. He started coaching at OU in 2011 and is now in his second season here. Kruger graduated from college at Kansas State University in 1975 with a degree in Business, and continued his education and earned a master’s degree from Pittsburg State in Physical Education.
Kruger started his coaching career at Pittsburg state as a graduate assistant, in 1976. He then moved to Kansas State as an Assistant Coach, after which he coached at Pan American as the head coach. He worked as head coach in Florida for six years and Illinois for four years. In 2000, after 23 years in college basketball, Kruger went to the NBA and coached the Atlanta Hawks for three years. For the last seven years he was the University of Northern Las Vegas head coach, and six of those seven years they competed in the NCAA tournament (Men’s, 2013).
In 2011, his first season as the head coach, Kruger led the Sooners to a 15-16 win-loss record, which is up from the previous seasons 14-18 record. This season, the team is on pace to participate in the NCAA tournament. Currently, they have a 16-7 record and have recently beat conference foe Texas Christian University.
Lon and his wife Barbara have been very involved in community service during their marriage. Kruger received the Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award in 2012. While coaching in Las Vegas he started the Coaches vs. Cancer’s Las Vegas Classic and raised more than $750,000 for research. The Krugers’ received many Community Service Awards (SoonerSports, 2013).
History of University of Oklahoma Basketball:
In 1907, the University of Oklahoma started the first men’s basketball team.
The University of Oklahoma men’s basketball team won their first conference title in 1928. They played in the Old Mountain Valley Conference.
From 1929-1947, the University of Oklahoma won six conference titles in the Big 6 conference.
The University of Oklahoma had its first showing in the NCAA tournament in 1939 and made it to the Final Four.
In 1947, the University of Oklahoma played in its first National Championship game against the Holy Cross University.
In 1949, the University of Oklahoma won a conference title in the Big 7 conference.
From 1979-1990, the University of Oklahoma won six conference titles in the Big 8 conference.
The University of Oklahoma playing in their second National Championship game in 1988, against Kansas University.
From 2001 to currently the University of Oklahoma has won four conference titles in the Big 12 conference.
In 2002, the University of Oklahoma played in its last showing of the Final Four in the NCAA tournament.
Players Successes from the University of Oklahoma Basketball Team
From 1910-2009, 30 Sooners have been honored with All-American Awards.
45 former Sooners have been drafted into the NBA, from 1949-2010.
From 1982-1997, the University of Oklahoma has had 38 players join the 1,000-point club, scoring at least 1,000 points in their careers at OU.
Four players from the University of Oklahoma have had their jerseys honored, from 1997-2008.
Recent Season Records of the University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma 2012-13 season results were 20 wins and 12 losses.
The University of Oklahoma 2011-12 season results were 15 wins and 16 losses.
The University of Oklahoma 2010-11 season results were 14 wins and 18 losses.
The University of Oklahoma 2008-09 season results were 30 wins and 6 losses.
"- - Big 12 Conference - Official Athletic Site." - - Big 12 Conference - Official Athletic Site. Big 12 Sports, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
Burton, Ethan. "OU Men's Basketball Team." Personal interview. 8 Feb. 2013.
Kuzydym, Stephanie. "Oklahoma Sooners Sports Blog from NewsOK.com." OU Sports Catching up with Lon Kruger Pre Texas Tech Comments. NewsOK.com, 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
"Men's Basketball Coaches." OU. Sooner Stats, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.
"NBA.com, Official Site of the National Basketball Association." NBA.com : Blake Griffin Bio Page. NBA.com, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.
"SoonerSports.com - Official Athletics Site of the Oklahoma Sooners - On Campus." SoonerSports.com - Official Athletics Site of the Oklahoma Sooners - On Campus. University of Oklahoma, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013.
Morgan McMullen/OU Men’s Basketball Backgrounder