Lon Kruger Assesses BYU

We'll post our normal game preview on Wednesday, but how about a sneak peak at the Gators' opponent in the NCAA Tournament. UNLV played Brigham Young three times this season, winning twice so I went to UNLV Coach Lon Kruger for an assessment of the Cougars and what the Gators are up against early on Thursday.

Kruger first talks about the Mountain West Conference which got four bids into this year's field of 65.

"New Mexico got a three seed and BYU's got a seven. Of course, Florida plays BYU and they're very good. Then you have San Diego State with an 11 in addition to our eight seed. We have four teams that are playing pretty well right now."

Kruger said BYU is a legit team that won't be beaten easily.

"BYU is going to be a very good challenge for Florida. They play with great confidence, they have a lot of guys who shoot the ball really well and they have a terrific player in Jimmer Fredette (21.7/3.1)."

I asked Kruger what makes Fredette a special player. He said among other things, the guy just does so many things well.

"You have a guy who shoots it 45 percent from the 3-point line. He has great command of the ball and can get into the paint. In our conferment tournament against TCU he scored 45 points and shot 24 free throws. In the semi-final game against us I thought our guys did a really good job against him and he scored 30 points. He's a terrific player and a guy who Coach Donovan will know a lot about I'm sure."

Kruger believes it's foolish to think you can shut down a player as talented as Fredette. He said the key is to make him work as hard as possible for each and every basket.

"That's the challenge. Expect him to get points because he has the ball in his hands all the time and he's a guy who's going to take a lot of shots. He doesn't take a lot of bad shots and he doesn't mind giving it up to the other three point shooters (4.4 assists/game)."

Overall Kruger says BYU is a team that likes a fast tempo and has a variety of weapons. He says one problem for teams defending the Cougars is that just about every player on the team is good with the ball.

"They are very good in transition. The open floor, that's where they're most comfortable. They pass the ball freely they have a lot of guys that make shots and they come at you all the time."

If there's one significant weakness on this team it's inside the paint. Kruger said that's one place where BYU can be exploited if you have the personnel.

"They don't have a lot of low post scoring. Most of their scoring comes from the perimeter. If you have a guy who can pound a lot on them and take advantage in there you might have a bit of an advantage."


Kruger led the Gators to the Final Four in 1994, proving that the Gators could play at the highest level of college basketball. He said he has enjoyed the success the Gators have had in the years since he's been gone.

"I enjoy it a great deal. Obviously Billy has taken it to a whole other level from where we left it. Certainly we offer our congratulations for all he's done there and it's great to see the Gators back in the tournament."


Kruger is one of eight coaches to take four different teams to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, and UNLV). Houston's Tom Penders became the eighth member of the club when his Cougars beat UTEP in the Conference USA final. That upset may have been what kept Mississippi State out of the tournament.

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