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Big 12 Media Day: Lon Kruger

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KANSAS CITY -

Lon Kruger talked about his new-look Sooners on Tuesday at Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City. Here's what he had to say.

It's a great time of year. Anytime from a coaching perspective you have the opportunity to be able to practice every day and watch young people play with a lot of enthusiasm, and in our case especially, given the number of seniors we had graduate last year, a lot of new roles and minutes available. So guys are working hard. They're fun with the enthusiasm that they bring every day, and working hard at getting better. So, again, we know Big 12 is going to be if not the best, one of the best in the country, as it has been for the last many years. And that's always a big challenge, but one we're looking forward to. So great time of year, and anxious for the exhibition opener in two weeks. So looking forward to that.

How has Jordan Woodard handled the transition back to the point guard spot? How is his role there different from what it was two years ago when he was playing with Buddy and Isaiah and Ryan?

Jordan's put in a ton of time on his own during the off-season. He improved shooting the ball tremendously last year from his work the previous summer. This year he understands, he's a smart guy. He knows that this year the target's going to be on his back where last year it was on Buddy's, Ryan's, Isaiah's. And maybe he'll have to work a little harder to get the same looks that he had last year and maybe get the same results he had last year. So I think he understands the preparation is going to be huge in terms of being in great condition and ready to work hard to get those same looks. So he doesn't have quite the same veteran experience around him this year that he did two years ago would be the biggest difference.

What is going to be the biggest challenge for your squad and for you coaching-wise without Buddy Hield being here?

We lost Buddy, we lost Ryan, we lost Isaiah, our tri-captains, so it's a very experienced group. The biggest challenge is getting these young guys to grow quickly and the Big 12, like in most leagues, it's not great to be young in any league, but Big 12 especially. But our guys understand that. We've got Khadeem and Jordan who were starters last year, and a lot of other guys played significant minutes. They know what it took for that team to do well, and they benefited from that. So they've transferred that to the work during the off-season, and now early season practices. Yet we've got to get the young guys coming in and growing up as quickly as possible.

I don't know how much coaches think about the following year in the previous year, but you played your main guys. Your guys got the bulk of the minutes and the bulk of the action. Since you're sitting here now, did you wish you might have gotten some guys who you knew were going to be contributors for you this year a little more playing time last year?

Christian James got a lot. Dante Buford, Jamuni McNeace, three sophomores that we have, three freshmen a year ago. They got a lot of minutes. Of course you'd prefer experience than not having experience, and yet you don't have the luxury of not playing everyone. We play a lot deeper roster in the non-conference than we do conference play. And the Big 12 doesn't afford you the opportunity to play other people to be playing them. But Christopher James and Rashard Odomes is a guy that's going to step into a big role, and he didn't play many minutes in league play last year. Jamuni McNeace, Dante Buford all played significant minutes a year ago, and certainly their roles are going to be different this year. But, yeah, you'd rather have experience. But like the guys we've got and how hard they're working.

How can Khadeem Lattin become a more complete player for you? Obviously outstanding on the defensive side. Do you see him growing as an offensive threat this year, maybe even needing to?

We definitely need him to and think he will, without really any question. Khadeem is probably going to be a guy that will be when fans watch, when people watch his play, they'll be surprised by Khadeem's production offensively. Last year he didn't get many opportunities because of other guys on the floor. But I think he's very capable. He's doing a great job in practice, and now we need to transition that to live game action. But Khadeem will be a guy that will score for us, and we definitely need him to.

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