The Norman Transcript


March 18, 2014

Hotbed of hoops: Basketball on the rise in the heartland



Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who grew up in Iowa and starred for the Cyclones, couldn’t help but gush about the quality of the teams in the region — even those that didn’t make the dance.

“I’ve been very impressed with what Tim Miles has done at Nebraska, and the ending they had, going on the road and winning at Michigan State, having a big run. North Dakota State, I’m a big fan of that team and that coach, so yeah, Midwest has got pretty good teams,” he said.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger grew up in Silver Lake, Kan., played at Kansas State and later coached there. But he’s also coached at Florida and UNLV, and with the Knicks and the Hawks in the NBA. And the college hoops being played in the Midwest this season? As good as he’s ever seen.

“Obviously, you’re selected to play in this tournament, you’re selecting the best 68 teams in the country,” Kruger said Monday, “and a lot come from the Midwest and the heartland, and basketball here in these leagues is outstanding.”

Now, it’s up to them to prove just how good against the rest of America.


AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins and Eric Olson contributed to this report.

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