UNLV has a head coach in Kevin Kruger, but the assistant spots have yet to be determined. DeMarlo Slocum and Tim Buckley are the two incumbents from T.J. Otzelberger’s staff, but there are some intriguing options outside the program.
The fun name to watch will be Lon Kruger. It seems doubtful that Kruger would take one of the three assistant spots, considering he just retired from Oklahoma.
But the question is what exactly does retirement mean? Did Kruger simply retire from being a head coach or retire from working at all? If it was simply a step down from being a head coach, Kruger could be used in a role like special assistant to the head coach.
Kevin Kruger told the Las Vegas Sun that there is a spot waiting for his father.
“He can be on staff if he wants. That would be great. I’m sure knowing him, he will be willing and able and hoping to help UNLV. Not just basketball, but UNLV in any possible way he can—in the community or coming to practice and helping or talking to coaches or whatever he can do. Because he does enjoy helping people.”
Lon Kruger’s retirement is exciting for UNLV. As a first-time head coach, Kevin Kruger will have an extremely experienced former coach to lean on, even if he isn’t officially hired by UNLV.
Another interesting name is Jack Murphy, currently the associate head coach at Arizona. Murphy was the head coach at Northern Arizona from 2012-2019 and was the first coach to hire Kevin Kruger as an assistant in 2014.
But luring Muphy away from Arizona will be difficult. For starters, he went to Arizona. And more importantly, he might have to take a pay cut to come to UNLV.
Would Murphy leave his alma mater and take less money to work for his former assistant?
While it would be a short term view, Kruger will be wise to add assistant coaches that could help bring players. His father retiring from Oklahoma obviously opens the door to any players looking to leave Norman, Oklahoma.
Trey Phipps, who averaged 7.5 minutes in 16 games, is the only Sooner currently on the portal.
The only Wildcat in the portal, who could follow Murphy, is Ira Lee (10.4 minutes per game in 23 games).
However, there are four players in the transfer portal from Northern Arizona, Murphy’s last stop as a head coach. That includes point guard Cameron Shelton, who averaged 19.2 points and 4.2 assists per game last season.