Archive for Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Runnin’ Rebels turn to Kruger

UNLV hires ex-Kansas State boss to resurrect program

March 16, 2004

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— UNLV hired Silver Lake native Lon Kruger, a veteran college and pro coach, to lead the Runnin' Rebels basketball program back to national prominence.

Kruger accepted a five-year contract Monday, UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick said. The Nevada Board of Regents must approve the hiring at its Thursday meeting.

Kruger, fired last season by the Atlanta Hawks, most recently was an assistant coach with the New York Knicks.

Kruger said he agreed to become UNLV's 10th head coach Sunday. He said UNLV was attractive because the program didn't need to be rebuilt and had a winning tradition under Jerry Tarkanian, who led the Runnin' Rebels to a national championship in 1990.

"This is a place where you can win," Kruger said. "We're not taking over a program that's down by any means."

Coach Charlie Spoonhour stepped down a month ago because of health reasons, and his son and assistant coach, Jay Spoonhour, took over the team.

Kruger comes to Las Vegas after a four-year stint in the NBA. He spent three seasons (2000-03) as head coach of the Hawks and then part of this season as an assistant with the Knicks.

At the college level, Kruger compiled a 318-233 (.577) overall mark in 18 seasons at Pan American (1982-86), Kansas State (1986-90), Florida (1990-96) and Illinois (1996-2000).

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