Lon Kruger to Nat'l College Basketball HOF

#1      
Perhaps others already knew this, but I just read this morning that former Illinois coach Lon Kruger will be enshrined into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in November.

He will be joined by 4 other coaches; Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun, John Beilein and Jerry Krause (of eastern Michigan, not the Bulls).

Congratulations, Lon
 
#3      
Perhaps others already knew this, but I just read this morning that former Illinois coach Lon Kruger will be enshrined into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in November.

He will be joined by 4 other coaches; Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun, John Beilein and Jerry Krause (of eastern Michigan, not the Bulls).

Congratulations, Lon
Great coach and man....as foby said...well deserved...
 
#6      
Lon could have retired at Illinois. He had to reclimb the coaching ladder after the NBA but was very successful.
Made NCAA 15 out of 21 years despite doing rebuilds at Illinois UNLV and Oklahoma. One Final Four at Oklahoma.
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#8      
I started watching Illini in late 60's

My favorite coaches
1. Lou H - brought us back from terrible to every year top 20
2. Brad U - brought us back from terrible to #1 seed, BT champs
3. Lon K - made us good immediately
4. Bill S (downgraded because he left and stole Julian Wright and Sherron Collins)
5. Bruce W (only because of 2004 and 2005 seasons) Otherwise Meh
6. Gene B (can't blame him for leaving for UCLA at the time)
7. Harv S - could not get it turned around
8. John G - same

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#9      
I started watching Illini in late 60's

My favorite coaches
1. Lou H - brought us back from terrible to every year top 20
2. Brad U - brought us back from terrible to #1 seed, BT champs
3. Lon K - made us good immediately
4. Bill S (downgraded because he left and stole Julian Wright and Sherron Collins)
5. Bruce W (only because of 2004 and 2005 seasons) Otherwise Meh
6. Gene B (can't blame him for leaving for UCLA at the time)
7. Harv S - could not get it turned around
8. John G - same
My list is similar:

I started watching the Illini in the early (20)20's

My favorite coaches
1. Brad U - solid guy
 
#10      
Long overdue. Kruger's teams were exciting to watch --guy really knows how to motivate players. Kind of a golden era when the sanctions were behind the program and it was in the hands of great coaches. The BIG was incredibly physical when Kruger coached and he brought in some tough bigs. Bummed when he left, but hiring Self kept that train going.

I go back to Henson, so my list would include Henson, Kruger, Self, Weber, Groce, and Underwood. I'd give an A to each of Self, Kruger, Heson, and Underwood --kind of splitting hairs on ranking them. Self inherited the most and arguably built the best roster since the flyin Illini, but Kruger did it from scratch, and had HRF --that squad couldn't be counted out ever. Big gap down to Weber in my mind, given his success came almost entirely from what he inherited. And Groce was a wash-out. Underwood can get to the top with more post-season success --hasn't quite had the luck and coaching to peak like he needs to.
 
#12      
I started watching Illini in late 60's

My favorite coaches
1. Lou H - brought us back from terrible to every year top 20
2. Brad U - brought us back from terrible to #1 seed, BT champs
3. Lon K - made us good immediately
4. Bill S (downgraded because he left and stole Julian Wright and Sherron Collins)
5. Bruce W (only because of 2004 and 2005 seasons) Otherwise Meh
6. Gene B (can't blame him for leaving for UCLA at the time)
7. Harv S - could not get it turned around
8. John G - same

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BU well on the way to #1. I think perennial top 25 is in the bag. Just gotta make some noise in March.
 
#15      
Best combo of coach and recruiter in Illini history. Good Xs and Os, good management of kids and role model, good handling media, good handling assistant coaches, good handling administration, good handling politics, good handling recruiting, and good teaching fundamentals. He really was strong all-around with few weaknesses. He may have not been great in anything but he was very good at everything.
 
#16      
BU well on the way to #1. I think perennial top 25 is in the bag. Just gotta make some noise in March.
I started watching Illini in late 60's

My favorite coaches
1. Lou H - brought us back from terrible to every year top 20
2. Brad U - brought us back from terrible to #1 seed, BT champs
3. Lon K - made us good immediately
4. Bill S (downgraded because he left and stole Julian Wright and Sherron Collins)
5. Bruce W (only because of 2004 and 2005 seasons) Otherwise Meh
6. Gene B (can't blame him for leaving for UCLA at the time)
7. Harv S - could not get it turned around
8. John G - same

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View attachment 18719
Henson had longevity which seems to make people a little too nostalgic. He wasn't a perennial top 25 coach. They were ranked 13/21 seasons coached and made the dance 12 of those seasons. We won one Big Ten Title in his 21 seasons.

Kruger had us ranked 2/4 seasons including 3 NCAA appearances (and the year we didn't make it, he took us to the BTT championship game where we lost to the eventual Final Four team MSU). We won one Big Ten Title in his 4 seasons.

Self on the heels of the Kruger rebuild had us ranked 3/3 and took us to the tourney 3/3. We won 2 Big Ten titles.

Weber had us ranked 7/9 seasons including 6 NCAA appearances and two Big Ten championships (and one Big Ten tourney champion and 2 runner-ups including one the year we didn't make the Dance.)

Groce managed to have 3/5 seasons ranked, 1 dance, never finished higher than 7th in BIG. Did nothing in BTT.

BU so far 3/5 seasons ranked, 2 dances (2020 probably would've given us 3), a Big Ten Championship (kind of 2), and a Big Ten Tourney Championship.

I won't go back any further because I wasn't alive before Lou. But I'd argue that Kruger, Weber, and Self all experienced more success. Perhaps it was a product of the era, when folks coached with one team for far too long.
 
#17      

Illwinsagain

Cary, IL
Best combo of coach and recruiter in Illini history. Good Xs and Os, good management of kids and role model, good handling media, good handling assistant coaches, good handling administration, good handling politics, good handling recruiting, and good teaching fundamentals. He really was strong all-around with few weaknesses. He may have not been great in anything but he was very good at everything.
At the time, I didn't feel that he was a great recruiter. Illinois had a ton of talent at the time and all the media was going on about how Pat Kennedy at DePaul was out recruiting him. Fortunately, there was enough talent outside of Chicago, especially Peoria, to build a solid roster. I do agree that he was very good teacher, role model and game technician. I would have been perfectly happy if he had stayed for 20 years. Though, internet rumors stated that his wife wasn't happy among the cornfields.
 
#18      
Henson had longevity which seems to make people a little too nostalgic. He wasn't a perennial top 25 coach. They were ranked 13/21 seasons coached and made the dance 12 of those seasons. We won one Big Ten Title in his 21 seasons.

Kruger had us ranked 2/4 seasons including 3 NCAA appearances (and the year we didn't make it, he took us to the BTT championship game where we lost to the eventual Final Four team MSU). We won one Big Ten Title in his 4 seasons.

Self on the heels of the Kruger rebuild had us ranked 3/3 and took us to the tourney 3/3. We won 2 Big Ten titles.

Weber had us ranked 7/9 seasons including 6 NCAA appearances and two Big Ten championships (and one Big Ten tourney champion and 2 runner-ups including one the year we didn't make the Dance.)

Groce managed to have 3/5 seasons ranked, 1 dance, never finished higher than 7th in BIG. Did nothing in BTT.

BU so far 3/5 seasons ranked, 2 dances (2020 probably would've given us 3), a Big Ten Championship (kind of 2), and a Big Ten Tourney Championship.

I won't go back any further because I wasn't alive before Lou. But I'd argue that Kruger, Weber, and Self all experienced more success. Perhaps it was a product of the era, when folks coached with one team for far too long.
Lou also had to rebuild in the beginning, and then dealt with the ridiculous NCAA sanctions towards the end. He would undoubtedly have had more ranked seasons, tourney appearances, and tourney success if not for that. Also, longevity should never be discounted. There was a good reason he lasted so long at Illinois.
 
#19      
Lou also had to rebuild in the beginning, and then dealt with the ridiculous NCAA sanctions towards the end. He would undoubtedly have had more ranked seasons, tourney appearances, and tourney success if not for that. Also, longevity should never be discounted. There was a good reason he lasted so long at Illinois.
One other minor data point - the NCAA tourney didn't expand to 64 teams until 1985, it was 32 teams in 1975 when Henson began, ran a few more years at 32 and then had a few years at 40/48 teams, so one could argue that for about half of Henson's tenure at Illinois it was a bit more challenging to qualify for the tournament.
 
#20      
Henson had longevity which seems to make people a little too nostalgic. He wasn't a perennial top 25 coach. They were ranked 13/21 seasons coached and made the dance 12 of those seasons. We won one Big Ten Title in his 21 seasons.

Kruger had us ranked 2/4 seasons including 3 NCAA appearances (and the year we didn't make it, he took us to the BTT championship game where we lost to the eventual Final Four team MSU). We won one Big Ten Title in his 4 seasons.

Self on the heels of the Kruger rebuild had us ranked 3/3 and took us to the tourney 3/3. We won 2 Big Ten titles.

Weber had us ranked 7/9 seasons including 6 NCAA appearances and two Big Ten championships (and one Big Ten tourney champion and 2 runner-ups including one the year we didn't make the Dance.)

Groce managed to have 3/5 seasons ranked, 1 dance, never finished higher than 7th in BIG. Did nothing in BTT.

BU so far 3/5 seasons ranked, 2 dances (2020 probably would've given us 3), a Big Ten Championship (kind of 2), and a Big Ten Tourney Championship.

I won't go back any further because I wasn't alive before Lou. But I'd argue that Kruger, Weber, and Self all experienced more success. Perhaps it was a product of the era, when folks coached with one team for far too long.
Plenty of problems with this post.

First, having us ranked midseason to me is pretty much irrelevant. I care about whether we finished the season ranked. So I'd change those numbers.

Kruger had a nice sprint with us, but I highly doubt he'd have kept us going in the direction that Self pointed us. He got the Peoria guys and Cook from Lincoln, but really outside of that his recruiting was pretty mediocre. I don't want to totally dismiss downstate recruiting, but in my mind if you're going to be considered a top recruiter at Illinois you need to demonstrate that you can grab guys from outside of downstate. Kruger never did that.

Kruger also blew one of the best opportunities we had in the tournament when we lost the UT-Chattanooga game.

Henson certainly had his disappointments, but to place Kruger, Weber, and Self ahead of him is to fail to recognize where he started from as well as the extraordinary forces trying to stop him.
 
#21      
Lou will always be special because he brought us back from the bottom in a time when the B10 was the dominant basketball power.

I don't think there is any question that Bill Self success at Kansas - 2 NCAA championships and 16 Big 12 championships (14 in a row) raises him into another level.

Lon was by his nature a roamer - 4 years KSU, 6 year FL, 4 years IL, NBA, 7 years UNLV, 10 years Oklahoma. If he does not try NBA maybe he stays at Illinois 20 years like Lou.

Lon was quality guy. Great X&O. His 1997 B10 champion team did the most with their ability of any Illini team in last 50 years. Turner, Heldman, Gee, Hester and Johnson (walkon). They were undersized, slow, couldn't jump but played almost flawless team ball. Team was a joy to watch.
 
#23      
Silver Lake Kansas 2020 population 1,325. She was his college sweetheart at Kansas State.

they lived in

KSU assistant Manhattan Kansas 55,000
Pitburg State Edinburg TX 100,000
Gainesville FL 133,000
Champaign Urbana 122,000
Atlanta
Las Vegas 644,000
Norman OK 128,000

 
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#24      
l always felt that Lon was one of the classiest guys ever to coach the Illini. That said, he was totally miscast as a pro coach, but disliked recruiting so much that he chased the dollar and left Illinois. He was well-loved by his players and they played hard for him. I hated to see him leave, but we hit a homerun with his replacement. ALL of Webber's success was due to Self's players.

When you judge among the Illini coaches, it might be good to weigh in on their attributes.

Other than the Flyin Illini, Henson was a formula coach who recruited strong, good shooting players. but not a lot of height and got them to play hard tough defense. He got players to fit his system.

Self was a SUPER recruiter who could judge and attract high talented players. Didn't seem to emphasize toughness but just got better players.

Lon did not recruit well, except one team in Peoria, who recruited each other, He got his teams to play for each other and for him. His was always a surprising success.

Underwood hires and trusts high level recruiters as assistants, and inspires his players to out work and out defense the other team. Offense (except for Kofi) always seems to be a counter-attack, based on hard nosed defense and rebounding.
Rankings :
1. Self
2. Underwood
3. Henson
4. Krueger
5. Combs
6. No one else worth mentioning

What say you?
 
#25      
l always felt that Lon was one of the classiest guys ever to coach the Illini. That said, he was totally miscast as a pro coach, but disliked recruiting so much that he chased the dollar and left Illinois. He was well-loved by his players and they played hard for him. I hated to see him leave, but we hit a homerun with his replacement. ALL of Webber's success was due to Self's players.

When you judge among the Illini coaches, it might be good to weigh in on their attributes.

Other than the Flyin Illini, Henson was a formula coach who recruited strong, good shooting players. but not a lot of height and got them to play hard tough defense. He got players to fit his system.

Self was a SUPER recruiter who could judge and attract high talented players. Didn't seem to emphasize toughness but just got better players.

Lon did not recruit well, except one team in Peoria, who recruited each other, He got his teams to play for each other and for him. His was always a surprising success.

Underwood hires and trusts high level recruiters as assistants, and inspires his players to out work and out defense the other team. Offense (except for Kofi) always seems to be a counter-attack, based on hard nosed defense and rebounding.
Rankings :
1. Self
2. Underwood
3. Henson
4. Krueger
5. Combs
6. No one else worth mentioning

What say you?

Like this post. I did some more digging just for the sake of digging and came up with this (which may mean something or may not, just found it interesting):

Henson's tenure- the Big Ten sent 12 teams to the Final Four and had 5 NCAA champs (in 21 seasons), and the Illini had 13 top 5 finishes and one Big Ten championship.

Kruger's tenure- the Big Ten sent 5 teams to the Final Four and had 1 NCAA champ (in 4 seasons), and the Illini had 3 top 5 finishes and one Big Ten championship.

Self's tenure- the Big Ten sent 2 teams to the Final Four and had 0 NCAA champions (in 3 seasons), and the Illini finished top 2 all three seasons including 2 Big Ten Champions.

Weber's tenure- the Big Ten sent 6 teams to the Final Four and had 0 NCAA champions (in 9 seasons), and the Illini finished top 5 in 7 seasons including 2 Big Ten champions.

Underwood's tenure- the Big Ten has sent 2 teams to the Final Four and had 0 NCAA champions (in 5 seasons *Covid), and the Illini finished top 5 in 3 seasons including one Big Ten championship (really 2, because F 2021.)