Big 12 teleconference: Lon Kruger transcribed

NORMAN, Okla. — Head coach Lon Kruger hopped on the conference call Monday morning, and Sooners Illustrated has all the discussion.

Q-You guys were on the road midweek and battled back, had a chance right at the end of that game. Is that one of those things that you hope your guys can learn from on the road and help you down the regular season in Big 12 play?

A- Most definitely. Yeah, when you go on the road like that, Arkansas is a ball club that gets after you pretty good and the crowd's into it and any time you can experience that, you hope that it helps. You hope to win, of course, and learn from it. We didn't quite win, but hopefully we can learn a lot from it in preparation for Big 12 play.

Q-You're playing some young players and they're getting a lot of important minutes. Was that the plan when you first brought them in or have they earned all these minutes and they're the best guys out there for you? Or are you just trying to kinda get them ready to go for the regular season as well?

A- A combination. We're gonna play the people that earn the minutes, that deserve to be out there. So, that goes without saying, but as it turns out, the experience they're getting now does help them for Big 12 play and they're gonna be in there when we line up in January as well so they might as well learn along the way.

Q-Lon, it seems that you guys have had quite a few games that have down to the last minute, you guys kinda come from behind or whatever. Is that kind of half and half where you would rather have the lead obviously all the way but the fact that you guys are kinda battling back, is that kind of the positive side of it?

A- Exactly. Like to play better for 40 minutes to have a little margin there late, but on the other hand, I think we've had five close ball games. They won four of them and they've figured out there's some things there late, they've experienced some things there late that will help them hopefully again in Big 12 play. But yeah, we got to play a lot more consistently, play consistently well more minutes out of a ball game than we are right now, but this group is working at it.

Q-Lon, has anything surprised you about the season so far?

A- With most of our guys not a lot. We expected [this]. We're still searching for a lot of things. Again, with so many new guys and so many young guys playing, that's not a big surprise. Like all teams probably like to be a little farther along as we get into the middle of December, but no, no major surprise. Those guys are gonna work at it. They got great attitudes, and I think most importantly they understand we have a long way to go to get ready for Big 12 play. So, hopefully we can make progress each day.

Q-What things have you guys done the best and where do you see the most work needed?

A- We've worked hard. We've had good attitudes about working hard every day, you know, making some progress. Those are good things. We've still gotta be a lot more physical. We have to be a little bit more genuine with our interest in putting our bodies on people and getting after loose balls and committing to stops, all things that I think will come with time. But we're not a real physical group by nature and we've got to manufacture a little bit more of that.

Q-You said you're not a physical group by nature. Why do you want to change that nature?

A- It's a physical game. Individually we've got probably more personalities of finesse people, which we're not a big, scrappy team just from a physical appearance. So, we're gonna play against big, strong people, so we've gotta be more physical just to hold our own on the boards, loose balls, setting screens. I think all teams would like to be a little bit more physical, and we certainly need to be.

Q-Are you happy with your guard play right now?

A- Guard play's improving. Again, we're playing a lot of young people, and they're working at it. They've got great passion for it. They compete like crazy every day to get better, and they'll keep getting better. They'll keep improving. And we need to be a little bit more aggressive off the dribble and making plays for others, but I think trying not to make mistakes. We still need to attack a little bit more and be more aggressive.

Q-When you play Texas A&M this Saturday, you'll have had a 10-day break. As I understand it, kids are going through finals right now, but what things have you been working on during that time?

A- Finals is one. Those are today, and guys will have a good week of that. But again, just the things we've mentioned really: being more aggressive off the dribble, making plays for each other, being a little bit more physical defensively, rebounding the basketball as well, just moving the ball and getting it out of our hands a little bit better. All things that we need to keep improving on.

Q-How do you feel about being the only Oklahoma team in the All-College Classic this year? It's usually Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

A- Yeah, the All-College over the years it's taken on a lot of different formats one year to the next. We've always liked the double header. It was good, but as it turns out this year we're the only one and we know A&M's gonna come in there and play well, and so we've got a few days here to get better.

Q-Are you guys still streaming the practices live either way or what kind of feedback have you gotten back from that exercise?

A- We are, not every day but occasionally the practices are streamed live and response has been positive. People seem to have enjoyed it. So, we vision for this team to feel like it's a positive, so again haven't heard anything negative from it so we'll continue to do that for a while.

Q-Is that something you think might be helping recruiting, just kinda letting guys that might be interested in playing there kinda see what practice is like before they actually might end up going there?

A- Oh, that's available to them for sure. You know, and we talk about that in recruiting a little bit, but it also I think it's good for the parents and guys that we have to be able to watch practice. And then we've got good response from those folks for sure, and I know as a parent it's fun to be able to sit there and catch your guy in practice each day. You don't get a chance to see them on a daily basis for sure.

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