Daily Archives: Jan. 18, 2013

Lon Kruger returns to K-State on a 3-game winning streak against his alma mater

Oklahoma struggled in its first season under Lon Kruger, finishing with a 15-16 record and only five Big 12 victories.

But that didn’t stop the Sooners from beating Kansas State twice last year. Oklahoma entered both its games against the Wildcats, who were ranked at the time, as underdogs, but came away with a season sweep. Oklahoma led from start to finish in Norman, winning 82-73, and outplayed K-State in Manhattan, winning 63-60.

Kruger put on a coaching clinic in the rematch, which led some to suggest he had Frank Martin’s number. During his time with UNLV and Oklahoma, Kruger went 3-1 against K-State, where he used to play and coach. The only time the Wildcats won, Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente were crazy hot on offense. Overall, Kruger is 4-2 against his former school.

Kruger still has connections at K-State, and donated enough money to the program’s new practice facility that he has a locker named after him inside it. He keeps up with all of the Wildcats’ games and hopes they win when he is not coaching against them. Along with OU assistant Steve Henson, another former K-State player, handling the scout for the game, Oklahoma knows everything there is to know about the Wildcats. That has given the Sooners an edge recently.

But Kruger is 0-1 against Bruce Weber. UNLV and Illinois played each other in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and the Illini jumped out to a big halftime lead before winning 73-62. So Kruger vs. Weber for the first time at Bramlage Coliseum should be an interesting game.
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K-State in search of new recruiting blood

First Joe Bob Clements. Now Michael Smith.

In the span of five days, the Kansas State football team surprisingly lost two longtime assistants that once played for the Wildcats and started their coaching careers under Bill Snyder.

Clements, K-State’s former defensive ends coach and defensive run game coordinator, is off to Oklahoma State as the Cowboys’ new defensive line coach. Smith, K-State’s former receivers coach, will be in charge of the same position at Arkansas.

Their absences will be noticeable. On the field, Clements and Smith did a fine job of developing talent. Meshak Williams and Adam Davis were two of the top pass-rushers in the Big 12 last season. Chris Harper came to Manhattan hoping to play quarterback and left as a productive receiver with a future in the NFL. They helped K-State win 21 games the past two seasons.

But their biggest contributions came in recruiting.

Smith and Clements were without a doubt K-State’s top two recruiters. Smith, a New Orleans native, regularly signed prospects from Florida and Louisiana, where he faced competition from SEC schools. He spoke passionately about “not taking a backseat” to other programs and Rivals labeled him as one of the top 10 recruiters in the Big 12 last year. Clements, an Emporia native, was well-liked in the Sunflower State and helped seal the deal with many local recruits.

They were the two youngest assistants on the Wildcats’ staff (Clements is 37 and Smith is 42) and had outgoing personalities that high school seniors could easily relate to.
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