Legendary Sterling coach Kruse to retire at end of season

By Sterling College Sports Information
December 17, 2013
Sterling College Sports Information

STERLING – Sterling College head women’s basketball coach Lonnie Kruse has announced that the 2013-2014 season will be his last as he will retire from his position as the head coach of the Lady Warrior program. 

Kruse will retire as Sterling College's all-time wins leader in women's basketball history and also the all-time wins leader in college women's basketball in the state of Kansas. 

Associate head coach K.C. Bassett will take over the reins of the program at the conclusion of this year.

"It's tough to let go of something that has been a part of your life for 33 years, but with my age and family situation it is time for me to step away from coaching. I look forward to having a chance to watch my grandkids with their own athletic activities," Kruse said. "One of the exciting things about this transition is I will still feel part of the program as K.C. has been part of our program as either a player or coach for the past 10 years. I know where her heart is and she will continue the tradition of Lady Warrior basketball."

Kruse has been the head coach of the women's basketball program for 33 years and has accumulated a 701-230 record, (as of 12/14/13), with numerous awards achieved over the seasons. Kruse has been named KCAC "Coach of the Year" 11 times: 1988-89, 1992-93, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2001-02, 2003-04, 2007-08, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

During his tenure the Lady Warriors have posted 20, 21+ win seasons, won the KCAC regular season title 12 times and qualified 16 times for the NAIA National Tournament while under Kruse's leadership. The women have also maintained a high national ranking, ending 14 of the last 17 seasons in the top 25 nationally.

Kruse also has produced 66 first-team All-Conference selections, 53 All-Conference Honorable Mention selections, 10 KCAC "Freshmen of the Year,” 10 NAIA Honorable Mention All-America selections, two third-team NAIA All-America, five second-team NAIA All-America selections and one first-team NAIA All-American. Since 1989, Coach Kruse has also seen 42 different players become Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes.

Bassett is very familiar with Sterling College as a player and coach. Before joining the coaching staff, she was a four-year starter and twice captain on Sterling College teams that finished with a combined record of 99-28, and won two conference championships and one KCAC Tournament championship. Her teams made three trips to the NAIA National Tournament where they finished in the Sweet Sixteen twice and Elite Eight once.

Bassett began her playing career in 2003-2004 as KCAC Freshman of the Year and honorable mention All-Conference, and ended her senior campaign [2006-2007] as the KCAC's Player of the Year and a third-team NAIA All-American. During her Sterling career, she was named to three KCAC All-Conference first teams and earned Daktronics-NAIA Academic honors, twice. Bassett is Sterling College women basketball's all-time assist leader [549] and sixth all-time leading scorer [1,374].

For the past six seasons, Bassett has been an integral part of the coaching staff, assisting in recruiting, game planning, and day-to-day operations of the Women's basketball program.

 "I am very humbled and very grateful for the opportunity to lead the Lady Warrior basketball program, I am so grateful for coach Kruse and for this chance to continue to build on the foundation that he has built over the 33 years he has been here," Bassett said. "I am thankful for what coach Kruse has done for me and what he will do for me as I step into my new role within the program."

"Sterling College has been blessed to have such a great man as Ccoach Kruse for the past 33 years,” Athletic Director Gary Kempf said. "Lonnie has made an impact on Sterling College athletics that will be felt forever. Lonnie's legacy of success with the Lady Warriors speaks for itself. Coach Bassett, as part of this legacy, is well prepared to continue the high quality leadership that we are used to seeing in the Lady Warrior program."