Lon Kruger deflects questions on ‘Hack-a-Dok’ strategy
NORMAN, Okla. — Bill Self has made it clear he won’t apologize for wins.
A one-point squeaker over Kansas State in Allen Fieldhouse? Not a chance. A down-to-the-wire finish over lowly Iowa State? That was just as big.
So after a game in which the KU coach admitted he didn’t make the best decision — to win an individual game, at least — it was interesting to hear his coaching counterpart pull back from a true defense off the method that won his team the game.
The first time OU coach Lon Kruger addressed his strategy to intentionally foul KU’s Udoka Azubuike, a poor free throw shooter, was in his opening statement. After speaking about how OU built a lead and KU subsequently claimed a double-digit advantage, Kruger described the second half by simply saying, 'We got back into that a little bit."
The first question was asked…
Question: "Lon, talk about the decision to foul Azubuike. That seemed to give you a lot of possessions in a row--"
Kruger: "Well, Kansas is the best at scoring late, you know, late game situations. So, it worked out fine, but more importantly, our guys made shots on the other end. The shot Christian made, Brady made and I thought Trae was fantastic all night long. So proud of those guys."
He was asked again…
Question: "Have you ever done that before in your career? The intentional fouling there on Azubuike."
Kruger: "That happens from time to time. Uh. Yeah."
And then a third time...
Question: "Lon, they were so good, Kansas was so good at closing out games over the last five games. Did you feel you had to throw some kind of wrinkle into the strategy with fouling Azubuike?"
Kruger: "Well Kansas is great in late game situations. So again — some big rebounds there as well and a couple stops as well. And again, made shots at the other end. So, yeah, fine line."
Kruger never addressed the strategy after that.
In fact, the only time Kruger even mentioned the 7-foot, 280-pound big man by name was in an unrelated answer.
“Azubuike is terrific inside,” Kruger said.
So then the question was posed to the player two seats to his left.
After talking about his competitiveness earlier in the press conference, and saying he came into the game expecting to win, Young was asked if he’d rather be in a position to guard Kansas straight up late in games or if he was OK with the strategy.
“I’d rather be up by 20,” Young joked. “I’m not that competitive where I’d want it to be a close game.
“No, I’m super competitive. I’m super competitive. But if it’s a close game, I mean, I want to compete to get a stop or get a bucket, so I’m super competitive.”