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Big 12 Basketball Media Day: Lon Kruger

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KANSAS CITY -

Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger took questions at Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City on Tuesday. Here is some of what he had to say about his team.

Opening Statement

“Great time of the year. Guys have obviously been two weeks into practice, lot of enthusiasm, lot of energy. Had a little bit of injury with our big post guy, AK (Akolda Manyang), with a foot injury, little stress fracture from July, haven't fully got him recovered. Otherwise, pretty injury-free, and guys getting after it every day.”

On the buzz around freshman Rashard Odomes

“Rashard Odomes and Christian James are kind of similar in that they've got good size at the wing, very versatile. They're very aggressive, physical on the boards. They rebound the ball well from the wing. They can score. For incoming freshmen, they've been well-coached. They have a good feel for the game. Great enthusiasm for working every day, and the real benefit too from having Buddy and Isaiah from a work ethic standpoint in the gym all the time. And those guys come in and see what they do and fall in line and they'll benefit from that a great deal too.”

On returning four starters this season

“It's great to have them from them being familiar, them having the experience, a lot of Big12 starts. Leadership out of that group is outstanding, maybe as good as we've ever had with a returning group. The work ethic, their unselfishness, all those things that you'd certainly rather have than not. Expectations are different this year, be it the challenge of having those well. These guys have never really been in that position before. But they'll handle it well. They understand how they have to work every day, focus every day, and work at getting better. They know how tough the league is, so they know what lies ahead.”

On his coaching philosophy

“Well, every group's a little bit different. But we think confidence is a big thing, maybe the most important thing. You assume they're going to work hard and compete, so that's certainly a starting point. But you assume that's there. So now confidence, promoting confidence, trying to down play roles, you want guys that can shoot it, to feel free to shoot it. Guys who can't, you have to limit that, but you have to do that individually. Yeah, I think everything's a little bit different. With an older group, they probably identify their roles, they know what their roles are and what to expect from each other. I think good teams have different individuals that respect other people's roles, but also be accountable to their own, step up and every night deliver whatever it is. Maybe rebounding, maybe blocking shot, maybe scoring. But, yeah, you want them to play. You want them to do the things they do every day in practice and things they're comfortable doing and can do with confidence.”

On Buddy Hield’s decision to return for his senior year

“Buddy's really smart. He's got a great family, so our function was just to provide information. We talked to a lot of the folks in the NBA and we got the committee's evaluation back, as we do for any young player that may entertain the idea of going into the draft early, and just provided that to Buddy. Buddy took those projections and took the expert's opinions and said, I can get better. He's got a pretty good experience there, so it's not like he's not enjoying the time in Oklahoma. He said he thought he could enjoy that, improve his game, and maybe elevate his draft status and give himself a better chance to have a longer career at the next level. But, again, he made a decision that will be very good for him in the long run and certainly very good for our program, but I think good for Buddy, and that is the key there.”

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