Kruger bypass surgery a success

UNLV basketball coach Lon Kruger was resting comfortably Thursday at St. Rose Hospital after undergoing successful open-heart bypass surgery.

Kruger, 54, is expected to be released next week to continue his recovery at home. He plans to return to work before the Rebels open practice in October.

Doctors performed six bypasses during the four-hour surgery, which was not an emergency procedure.

Kruger took his annual stress test last week. After further testing early this week, blockages were identified and the determination was made to proceed with the operation.

"I would like to thank everyone for their concern and support," said his wife, Barbara Kruger. "The surgery was very successful, Lon is doing well and we are looking forward to his full recovery."

Wink Adams, a junior guard who is UNLV's top returning scorer, said Kruger called a meeting this week to inform the team of his health concerns. Adams said Kruger calmly spoke to the players.

"Anytime you hear someone is having heart surgery, it's a pretty big deal, and that's how we took it," Adams said. "We were nervous about it, but I've heard he's doing OK."

Kruger, 64-34 in three years with the Rebels, guided the team to a 30-7 record last season.

His son, Kevin, was the starting point guard as a senior and played a big role in UNLV reaching the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 for the first time in 16 years.

Lon Kruger received a new five-year contract in June that guarantees him $5.2 million.

An avid golfer, Kruger was an all-around athlete at Kansas State, his alma mater. In 1974, he was drafted in the ninth round by the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, and he also excelled in baseball and was drafted as a pitcher by the St. Louis Cardinals. Kruger starred in football in high school and was invited to the Dallas Cowboys' rookie camp as a quarterback.

The UNLV athletic department requests all cards and well wishes be sent to the men's basketball office and that the coach's privacy is respected.