Team preview: UNLV
Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2006-07 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.
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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)COACH AND PROGRAM
Lon Kruger's third season in Vegas will be unlike any other in his 20-year collegiate coaching career. This summer, Kruger was the beneficiary of a new rule that will allow him to watch his son, who graduated from Arizona State in July, play another year of college basketball.
At UNLV. This season.
"From a parent standpoint, you always like watching your kids perform," Kruger said. "It's a great opportunity to see him every day. I'll enjoy it."
Kevin Kruger (15.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg), a 6-2 combo guard, played three seasons for the Sun Devils, after red-shirting his first year in Tempe. Because he completed his schooling in four years and had one year of eligibility remaining, he was free to transfer for graduate school and not sit out a year under NCAA Proposal 2005-54. Kruger was the first player to use this rule since its inception in late April.
"I want the ASU community to understand I appreciate all that [new ASU] coach [Herb] Sendek has done for me in the past few months and what he will do for Arizona State," Kevin Kruger said in a statement. "This was an extremely tough decision because of him and the players. After considering my options, I want to play for my father for my final year.''
This doesn't bode well for Mountain West opponents -- some of whom have already seen the younger Kruger in non-conference games the last few seasons. They'll see more of him now.
Kruger, whose 38.9 minutes per game tied for second in the country, is an iron man with a basketball pedigree as good as they come in the Mountain West.
He was the only player to rank in the top 10 of eight statistical categories in the Pac-10. Kruger, who earned honorable-mention all-conference honors, was tops in the conference with 2.89 three-pointers per game while shooting better than 40 percent.
With Louis Amundson (14.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.1 spg) gone, it's Kruger who will probably lead UNLV in scoring this season. Who fills the rebounding role that the 6-9, 225-pound Amundson so dutifully maintained is a question the Runnin' Rebels must answer.
The Mountain West's third-leading rebounder and a second-team all-conference selection went un-drafted but hooked on with the Sacramento Kings' summer squad.
"Louie had a really good senior year," Kruger said. "He was a good scorer, a good rebounder."
While "Kruger And Son" was the highlight of UNLV's off-season, the academic woes of starting guard Jason Petrimouix (10.1 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.7 rpg) put a damper on the proceedings. Petrimouix, who missed the final three games because of a broken bone in his left foot, is no longer with the team after being deemed academically ineligible after the spring semester.
"Jason was poised for a good senior season," said Kruger about the Las Vegas native.
Forward Dustin Villepigue (6.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg), who started 27 games, and guard Ricky Morgan (4.7 ppg, 1.7 apg) also are gone.
"They were blue-collar and role type players," Kruger said.
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