I love the christmas break time right now, because it allows me time to think, reflect, and re-direct my basketball energy on new subjects like books and dvds. I had the chance to read a book by Lon Kruger and DJ Allen named: “The X’s and O’s of Success”.
I actually knew some of Coach Kruger’s assistant coaches from my days at Blinn College and had met him briefly while I was out recruiting on the road. He wouldn’t remember the meeting, but I remember that he went out of his way for a young assistant coach and didn’t “Big-Time” me at all unlike a lot of Division 1 coaches.
Coach Kruger came up with a unique formula for success and trys to bring out the very best for his basketball players and teams. He has done things with dignity and class that is not always associated with the sport’s world. He talks about his principles for taking over cultures seeking stability and direction and changing them into positive, productive environments. I felt that his book could be applied to the business and coaching world.
Coach Kruger has made it an “art” when it comes to rebuilding college basketball programs. He does a great job of weaving his own basketball coaching experiences into examples that show leadership and the ability to improve performance. He talks about coaching at Texas Pan-American as the head men’s basketball coach / athletic director at the age of 29, and elite eight appearance in his second year at Kansas State, a final four appearance and team record of 29 wins at University of Florida, a Big Ten title for Illinois, and a Sweet 16 appearance for the “Running Rebels” of UNLV. He also discusses his two and a half year coaching job with the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and how they were fired mid-season. He doesn’t pull any punches in this book.
The chapters of the book cover 39 life lessons and how to apply leadership to any field of business or coaching. Each chapter is broken down into three parts: Pre-game, Game-time, and Post-Game. It is a very easy to read book that has life lessons that everyone can take something from. In lesson thirty, here is a quote that I love: “Remember, great leaders develop other great leaders”. It is simple, honest and true.
Here is an excerpt of the book:
“Lesson One: The Simplicity of Success
It’s simple. Success is a process, not an event.
That’s not always the most exciting thing to hear. We want to believe in quick fixes, silver bullets, catching magic in a bottle.
But if you take the time to analyze the large majority of successful people, organizations, companies or teams, you will find that their overall success is a byproduct of simply doing the right things on a daily basis.
That is the reality we face as leaders — the simplicity of success. So how do we address something that is so elementary? How do we affirm this message with our teams day in and day out?
Welcome to the challenge of being a leader.
The average college basketball fan would probably be surprised to learn how much our coaching staff focuses on working with players to develop them off the court, in addition to helping them improve on the court.
When these young men join our program, they are usually 18-, 19- or 20-years-old. Many of them are away from home for the first time.
Some arrive on the scene with a strong work ethic while some lack the concept of working hard. It is all relative to their background and surroundings. While you can learn a little something about the players during the recruiting process, there are just some things you can’t find out about people until you are around them everyday.
Our objective as a staff is to develop our program for long-term success.
This means having kids on our team who are emotionally, mentally and physically able to perform at their highest level possible in basketball as well as in the classroom and socially. We want to maximize the potential of each player in our program.
In order to do this, we must start with the basics. We talk to our kids about the simplicity of success. “Take care of what you have to take care of today,” we tell them. “If you do this day in and day out for your entire tenure with us, you will have success and we will have success as a team.”
It is teaching elementary principles, but it is what works.”
What others are saying about Coach Kruger and the book:
“Lon Kruger helps to set the bar for integrity in our profession. His history of success in college basketball is even more impressive when you realize he has repeatedly revitalized programs all while operating strictly within the rules. Lon is a coach’s coach. We all have something to learn from him.”
Head Coach, University of North Carolina
“Coach simply helps you be the best you can be – on and off the court. Players give their best because they know he cares.”
Former All-American for Kruger at Kansas State and six-time NBA All-Star
“Lon Kruger is an outstanding leader and a great teacher. He brings everything to the table, everything it takes to build a program. I encourage you to take the lessons from this book to heart. Lon knows what he is talking about.”
Member of Basketball Hall of Fame, ABC and ESPN
“Lon is a brilliant businessman, who just happens to coach basketball. While he is known for his humility, his desire to win and his competitive drive is second to none. That balance of sincere humility with unending competitiveness is a unique trait many of the world’s premier business leaders share.”
Steve and Elaine Wynn
Wynn Las Vegas
“Lon Kruger is one of the finest leaders of young men I have ever witnessed in nearly a quarter-century of covering college basketball for CBS. Moreover, he is a good man. It does not surprise me that he has been a proven winner time and time again. When you mix leadership with passion and integrity, you get Lon Kruger.”
“Very few coaches have been able to change cultures as quickly and successfully as Lon Kruger. He understands how to mold a group of individuals into one team with a common goal and has proven that time and time again. Lon has high standards for all those around him and he possesses a passion for winning, but not at any cost. That is arguably his strongest trait.”
Head Coach, Charlotte Bobcats
Only coach to win both an NCAA National Championship (Kansas 1988) and an NBA Championship (Detroit 2004)
“Lon Kruger understands business because he understands people. The business world missed out on an all-star when Lon went into coaching.”
Executive Chairman of the Board, Boyd Gaming Corporation
I personally loved the book and will reflect back to it alot in the coming years. It gives you things to think about and if you can take one or two things from the book then it would be worthwhile as a basketball coach. I would give it a 5 out of 5 stars. Go to Coach Kruger’s website to learn more about it.
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