The Lon Kruger Entry

Coaching Update coming later today/tonight.

We will have a more comprehensive coaching update coming later this evening. But, over the weekend, the name Lon Kruger popped up on quite a few radars, so we thought that we would dedicate an entry to Kruger. (If you are going to leave comments in this entry, please note that this is not the “Whitt” or “Haith” or “Gillispie” entry; it is the Kruger entry).

The names that have recently risen to the public’s eye – PJ Carlisemo, Mike Brey, Lon Kruger – indicate to us that the search is clearly looking at more established coaches that may be ready for a change. State has to be careful not to be fooled into taking someone else’s problem or be sucked into helping a coach “reset his clock” as his time at his current institution may be on shaky ground. (We don’t think that this is the case with Kruger)

This does not mean that the search will necessarily choose to go in the direction of the more established names. We think that the strengths and weaknesses of these types of names are probably being weighed against the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates in the “up-and-comer” category.

Kruger’s UNLV Biography has a very nice synopsis of his experience.

This NBA biography of Kruger‘s most recent time with the NY Knicks supplements some of that information.

If you take a step back and look at the resume, we think that Kruger has almost everything for which Lee Fowler is looking:

* 5+ years of national experience

* NBA experience (as a head coach)

* Final 4 appearance

* successful stints in the Big 12 (at the time the Big 8), SEC and Big 10.

There is more going on here, however. UNLV’s Athletics Director is Mike Hamrick (Biography). You remember Hamrick from his days of driving ECU’s Athletics program into the ditch that Terry Holland is doing a great job filling.

Hamrick is doing the same at UNLV. Take a look at this editorial from the school newspaper after Hamrick got a contract extension and raise:

UNLV athletics doomed to failure until 2010
By: The Editorial Staff

This week, at the Board of Regents meeting in Reno, UNLV Athletic Director Mike Hamrick received a big pay raise and the Runnin’ Rebels didn’t even make the NIT.

The contract ensures that even the next president, who will be Hamrick’s boss, cannot choose a new director. How does UNLV justify giving the athletic director a pay raise and a contract extension through 2010 after the lack of success of UNLV sports under Hamrick?

Logic follows that only an athletic director who puts together at least a few winning programs deserves to get more money. This is exactly why UNLV will never have winning programs. UNLV gives people jobs who can’t perform at a competitive level.

The bottom line is that we are not winning where it counts, and the man running the show is being rewarded for it.

And people think that State fans are tough?

UNLV is not a good basketball program WITHOUT cheating. The entire program has been in shambles since Tark left, and we’re hearing that Kruger doesn’t feel that UNLV has what it takes to become really good because of a lot reasons, not the least of which is its bad conference.

Las Vegas is glamerous to many, but it is not an attractive destination to the parents of recruits. Tark made it by taking good players who had NO OTHER choice in their college destination. UNLV doesn’t recruit those types of players anymore.

Kruger wanted to get back into college coaching, and UNLV gave him a job. We don’t think Kruger wants the job of trying to rebuild UNLV. And, we don’t blame him. He has succeeded in three of the five best conferences in the country and therefore feels like he deserves a shot in a legitimate major conference.

He fefinitely wants OUT of UNLV, but he needs to be careful because he is starting to enter “Larry Brown” territory with the reputation of becoming a true job hopper. Ironically, Kruger was rumored to be in talks with Arizona State that may have fallen through because of his buyout at UNLV that is speculated to be around $1.5 million.

We could do worse than Kruger, no doubt. In the end, it may end up being a decision with which most fans are also wrestling – the allure of the “young up-and-comer” vs a name like Kruger.

We will have more on Kruger as the day develops. In the meantime, the following are some links that you may enjoy:

* November 23, 2004: The Re-Builder

* Failure isn’t a word in Lon Kruger’s vocabulary

* Mar 11, 2006: Kruger Denies Interest in Other Jobs

We invite you to discuss Lon Kruger in our comments section. We also would welcome any true insight or old articles that you can find related to Kruger’s personality, coaching philosophies, and recruiting.

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