HHC: Good to talk with you! What's this about you having your own cooking show these days?
BC: (Laughs) I don’t know how you found that out… Wow.
HHC: (Laughs) You probably don’t want to know.
BC: Yeah, and you don’t want to watch it, I can tell you that much! (Laughs) The school where I teach does a terrific job with technology and the media, and they have a local television station here, and they needed some different programs, and that was five or six years ago, but I was in the kitchen one day and thought to myself, “Hey, that might be kind of fun to have a cooking show.” So I talked to our media guy and next thing I know I’m making pigs in a blanket on television. (Laughs) I’m not a very good cook by any means, and it’s kind of a silly show,
but it’s for college kids to learn how to make food to eat.
HHC: Very cool. You went to Muncie (Indiana) Burris High School, which is a laboratory school affiliated with Ball State University, and you now teach there, as you mentioned. Explain exactly what the school is about?
BC: The school itself is K-12, and it’s housed in one building and has approximately 30-40 students per grade. What we do is provide services to the university for their pre-service teachers to come teach at our school. The university runs us, but in order to help the Ball State students learn how to teach. So, we’re not only teaching students, but also teachers. It’s a wonderful program and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it.
HHC: So back to your old stomping grounds, huh?
BC: Yeah, I actually teach there now. They let me back man, that’s a shock.
HHC: (Laughs) While you were at Burris in a playing capacity, you lead the team in scoring four straight years, and as a senior (1983), averaged 23.0 PPG and 6.0 APG. You were also All-Conference & All-City each of your four seasons there. However, when you came to Nebraska, you were known as a "sleeper" recruit. Who else besides Nebraska was recruiting you, and what made you choose Nebraska?
BC: Miami of Ohio from the MAC was recruiting me pretty heavily. I had a couple other schools that were in and out with me but not real heavy,
and then Dodge City Community College was interested because I had some connections there and some very close friends out there. And then, there was the University of Nebraska. When I made my recruiting visit to Lincoln, it was pretty easy to make that decision. They really took care of me and I could tell it was a first class place. Plus, my goal was to get an education, and I knew the four years, or actually five that I had, was a great place to get that done. I really didn’t have any confidence that I could play in the NBA, so I just wanted to make sure I could have a career when I left.
HHC: At the time you came to Nebraska, there were a lot of recent and future Huskers from Muncie, in Jack Moore, Jerry Shoecraft, and Henry T.
Buchanan, to name a few. Did you know a lot about all of those guys when you committed, and did that play a role at all?
BC: I had seen them play when they were in high school. I was in middle school when they came through. Shoecraft and Jack were part of a state championship team. So, I didn’t know them personally, but I had seen them play. The other thing was that Coach (Bill) Harrell at Muncie Central had coached at the University of Nebraska, and I’m not sure what years, but it was with Joe Cipriano. (Editors Note: It was 1968-1969) Anyway, Harrell was the Head Coach at Muncie Central and that’s how my connections were made to Nebraska. Well that and Jack Moore, as well.
HHC: What was the perception of Nebraska basketball back then? Did you know anything about the program before coming?
BC: I’ll tell you what happened. In…oh, I would say ‘81-’82 (Editors Note: He’s correct, a 71-57 Nebraska win), Nebraska played Ball State, and that was a big deal because Ray McCallum was a guard and is now coaching at IU, but he was a guard for Ball State from Muncie Central, and then Jack (Moore) was obviously a guard from Muncie Central for Nebraska. I went to all the Ball State games back then, so I knew a little bit about Nebraska basketball, especially thanks to the press conference for Jack and Jerry. There was a guy named Eric Eckelman, too, that went to Nebraska as well and was from around here. And I played against him in the summer.
Obviously, I knew about Nebraska football, but even so, my big concern was getting my education, and I didn’t think I’d play much as a freshman, and I just went in with the belief that I would pay my dues and get a chance to play as I got older.
HHC: You played three of your four years under Moe Iba, who was Head Coach when you first arrived in Lincoln. In your own words, describe him as both a man and coach?
BC: Coach Iba was the greatest guy I’ve ever been around as far as X’s and O’s go; he was so good at it. As a matter of fact, I haven’t had a chance to talk to him in awhile because of the situation that occurred at the end, but I want to thank him for the knowledge I gained. He was just phenomenal, especially defensively, and he taught me an awful lot that I’m still teaching to my kids today. He was a basketball guy; he wasn’t necessarily a rah-rah or a “Hey, how you doing” kind of guy. Rather, he was very much just into basketball and doing his job. He taught me a lot about discipline and practice schedules, as far as what exactly would go on each day. And what I liked about him most of all, looking back, is that his ideas weren’t always the ones that the fans wanted all the time, but they were the right ones, and they were the ones that he had a vision for, and he didn’t waiver off of that. Being a coach now for 17 years, that is so important, and I wish I would have seen that at the time, but I was just young and inexperienced.
HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was 1983-1984, and the team went 18-12 (7-7, 3rd) while making the second round of the NIT after defeating
Creighton. Individually, you were the top reserve guard behind David Ponce and Eric Williams, and played a lot. What do you remember most about that year?
BC: Just the learning. It’s just like drinking water out of a fire hose, man. I learned so much that year, and the two guys that I thank most of all for that are like you mentioned, David Ponce and Eric Williams. Those guys really taught me a lot and had so much confidence in me. I could just feel that they believed in the type of player that I was, and I think they liked the fact that I didn’t come in with any thoughts of taking their spots. I just came in and did the very best that I could, but those were guys awesome at teaching me. I distinctly remember the Wisconsin game where Eric
Williams kept patting me on the back and sticking with me, and telling me to stay positive, and we ended up winning (in 2OT, 71-69), and it taught me a lot, that’s for sure. I remember being pretty skinny too, and getting knocked around a lot. (Laughs) And I also learned that you’d have good games and bad games, and there’s nothing you can do about the bad games. I remember throwing two passes in the crowd and sitting the rest of the game, and then I also remember playing a lot, so it taught me a lot about persevering.
HHC: 1984-1985 was your sophomore season,and the team went 16-14 (5-9, T-5th) while again making the second round of the NIT after beating Canisius. Individually, you set four Big 8 assist records, led the league in assists per game (8.1), and tied the NCAA single-game record of 18 versus Evansville. What made you such a great passer?
BC: I had a 7’0” guy that could score in Dave Hoppen. (Laughs) He was just a great scorer. And we had some other guys that could score, too. And our offense that we ran played into that really well, our motion offense. The ball was in my hand a lot, and I was able to distribute the ball. So the biggest thing I think was that Dave was such a good scorer and Coach Iba got him in the right spots and we were able to get him the ball.
And I have to tell you, I was always a better passer than shooter, and I just had an opportunity to display that during that year. That sophomore year was such a fun year because I was an integral part of that team, and getting a chance to runthe team was really what I enjoyed doing best.
HHC: You also had your best shooting season as a sophomore and hit 56% from the field while averaging 9.5 PPG. Did getting respect for your shot enable you to dish out more assists?
BC: That’s probably because they didn’t know who I was yet (Laughs). So I did get some looks, but I think that goes back to Dave again, because he was their big concern. He was so good inside, and I didn’t shoot a lot of shots, and I made sure when I did, I was wide open. Actually, I remember Coach Iba getting on me a couple of times and telling me to shoot the ball, and I’d always look to pass first, shoot second. But when I took shots, I was usually wide open.
HHC: So, is it possible to be an all around point guard and excellent assist man without being able to score at the college level?
BC: I don’t know. The game has changed so much since when I played. I talked to Coach (Danny) Nee a few years after I played, and I’m glad I played when I did, because I don’t think I could play now. I don’t know, everybody is counted on to score anymore, and just to run the point alone, I don’t know, I’m not sure that you can do that. I think a couple of things happen. One, the players are so athletic, but two, the coaches are so
good now and so good at finding many ways to get things stopped. If you can’t score, they won’t guard you, and if they don’t guard you, they can guard somebody else with two.
HHC: 1985-1986 is a very memorable one for many reasons. Before we get to the positive, we have to ask what you remember about the illegal practice that happened at Mabel Lee. In your opinion, was that blown way out of proportion, and as a player, how did it make you feel?
BC: That was kind of the situation that I was talking about earlier in regards to Coach Iba, as far as making it very difficult. I don’t know… I hated the fact how everything occurred. Not just from the media side and not just from the players and coaching side, but just the whole situation. It was so tough to deal with, especially being 20 years old or whatever. I wish I could go back and change some things that took place and that were said, and so on. It was strange to have your own newspaper do that to you, to have that planted in the paper. But at the same time, if what we were doing was illegal or against the rules, I don’t know, I just did what we were supposed to do, and just learned to play. I didn’t want to deal with that other stuff.
HHC: You mention you’d wished you could have changed some things. What do you mean by that?
BC: I don’t know, I think relationships between players and coaches were really strained that year. It wasn’t just Iba, it was the whole coaching staff. And I’m a coach now, and I see my players and I try to work with them, and I just wish I had sat down with Coach Iba a little bit more and talked to him more about different things. I think he would have been a great asset for me and I think our relationship would have been a lot stronger. And like I said, I wasn’t very mature at that time, and I wish I was, or had been more. We got through it, though, and I felt like it made us stronger as a team, and it was awesome the way we came together.
HHC: Former Assistant Coach Randy Cipriano told us that he thinks, "Someone in our own trusted group set that up, and it didn't surprise me." Do you share the same sentiments?
BC: I don’t know, I’m not sure... I have no idea… If he thinks it was a player, there is no way, I’ll tell you that right now. There were no players that did that. Whether it was somebody else, I’m not sure what he’s talking about. Maybe he means somebody in the basketball operations or what have you, and I can’t speak for that. But I can speak for the player’s standpoint, and there was never anyone that went to the media, or at least that told me that they did, and I sure didn’t do that. That’s too bad he feels that way, because I don’t think it happened.
HHC: Interesting. Now, let’s talk about the good parts of that year. The team went 19-11 (8-6, 3rd) and made the schools first ever NCAA Tournament Appearance (a 67-59 loss) against Western Kentucky, despite losing Dave Hoppen for the remainder of the season in the February 1st road game at Colorado. What enabled you guys to overcome the adversity of Hoppen and Iba and get that done?
BC: I think it brought us together as a team. We really focused on ourselves that year. That was a team with a bunch of guys that really got along well. And I don’t know if that was because of all the adversity going on, but we really got together well on that team and had a great time with each other on the court. And even off the court, we were good friends. So, I think that was part of it, and I think we felt like we had something to prove as a team, and that we could compete no matter the situation. And I think it was coaching; Coach Iba did a tremendous job that year in
his situation, and especially considering all of the adversity. He had a vision and he knew what he wanted to do and what worked and stuck with it.
HHC: Was that your favorite season at Nebraska?
BC: No, I’d say my senior year was. There were a lot of us that had been together three or four years. But as far as that junior year goes, yes, I enjoyed that year. Obviously we won a lot of games and did something that the school had never done in getting into the NCAA Tournament. But, like I said, there was so much adversity in different areas that it just kind of drug it on a little bit.
HHC: After the Western Kentucky game, Iba resigned, although he told us that was only because he was forced to. As a player, was that shocking to you, or did you pretty much know it was coming?
BC: No, we didn’t know what was going to happen. Nothing was said, and I’ll tell you what, Coach Iba had a lot of class in what he said in the locker room, and I won’t go into all of it since I think it should stay there, but one thing he did say was that it was a great university and that there are terrific people there. He didn’t bash people or get upset to the point where he was unkind, and he just had a lot of class, and I really admire him for doing that.
HHC: How tough was it for you to see him go, especially after he recruited you and you played three seasons under him?
BC: It’s the unknown, too. With Coach Iba,I knew what to expect, and I knew what he wanted. I did everything he asked me to do; I worked extremely hard, and you get in a comfort zone with that. There were some times that I was frustrated, and we’re all like that during the season. And I keep telling my players that go on to college that it’s not everyday you are going to enjoy; that’s just not going to happen. You are going to get tired of practice, and so on, but I guess the unknown that was out there after Coach Iba, and that was kind of a weird thing for me. Plus, I
obviously didn’t like seeing a guy lose his job.
HHC: Danny Nee was hired as Head Coach prior to your senior season of 1986-1987, and came to Lincoln from Ohio U. What was your initial reaction of him?
BC: We had a meeting, and he asked us what we liked and disliked from the previous years, which I thought was great, and he really listened to us. He had a lot of energy and a lot of neat ideas. The first impression was that, “Hey, this guy is ready to go, and he’s going to be pretty good. He’s going to get both us and the community fired up.” So, when I did meet him, I was excited to see that this guy had this enthusiasm. (Laughs)
And, he was pretty classy too, the way he dressed and waved his money around and stuff. He was a neat, interesting character.
HHC: Understatement of the year there. (Laughs)
BC: No kidding.
HHC: (Laughs) Describe Nee as both a coach and man.
BC: Well, I got to know Coach Nee a little bit better than Coach Iba from a personal standpoint, and I think that’s because I was older then and I wasn‘t afraid of talking to coaches when I was off the court. But as a coach, he loved to run and wanted excitement, and played to the crowd a little bit and to the community more than Coach Iba did. Right, wrong, or indifferent, it was just different as compared to Iba, who was more of a quiet,internal kind of guy. Coach Nee was real vocal, so that was interesting. I learned a lot from him on how to deal with the media, on how to talk to people and so on, and I felt like I really watched him deal with people, and it was fun to see that and learn from him. He was creative in his offenses and defenses. Coach Iba was, “You’re going to run this, and you’re going to have to stop us,” whereas Coach Nee would be more innovative and change things. I remember one night I had to guard Danny Manning at 6’0” tall.
BC: Yeah, and this sounds weird, but my job was just to make sure I was behind him while we had another player at 6’8, who I think was (Bill) Jackman, that was in front of him. We just let Cedric Hunter run free. So that was totally different, where under Coach Iba, I think we played 20 possessions of zone my first three years combined, MAYBE, and with Coach Nee, we’d run all sorts of weird defenses and zones and presses and stuff.
HHC: Prior to that senior season, you were basically told you were going to play more of the "2 guard" while Henry T. Buchanan would play the point. When talking to Buchanan, he told us "Carr was probably the best tandem I have ever played with in my life... He should still be in the NBA today, that's how good he was... If it weren't for Danny Nee forcing me to play point and him two, he would have been the all-time assist leader in the Big 8." Do you agree with T's statement, and how frustrating was it to be moved around in your last year?
BC: Well, what was fun about Henry was that we were both from Muncie, and we would both kind of run the point at different times. But I loved playing with him, man, he’d take care of the ball, he could shoot it, he was just fun. Sometimes I think we called him grandpa because her was so old. (Laughs) But he was a neat, calming factor on the floor. I don’t know, I think I was as good as I was going to get, and I don’t know… I did the best I could and I really appreciate T. saying that, that’s really nice of him. (Laughs)
HHC: He definitely speaks his mind huh?
BC: Oh yeah, he’s fun. But yeah, I got the opportunity to shoot the ball a little bit more that year, and that was the first year for the three-pointer, which was different. And it was just fun for T. and I to be starting guards, both from Muncie, and when they’d announce our names, that was kind of cool as well. I miss him a bunch, man! His family has connections here in town, but he’s doing really well out there in Lincoln.
HHC: Nee's first year turned out well, and he says, "It might have been the easiest coaching job of my life." You guys went 21-12 (7-7, 5th) and finished third in the NIT. Talk about what you remember most about that senior season?
BC: Oh gosh, there were so many great times. Like I said, we were supposed to run, and we were turning into a running team, and we got beat the first game when we both scored 100 points and lost, and it was against Cal-Irvine (109-101). And I just remember thinking, “Oh my gosh.” I
remember we played Oklahoma, and Coach Nee was committed to running, and Head Coach (Billy) Tubbs made some comment that we were still slow. And it was just a transition time. Here’s the biggest thing of all that sticks out most about that senior year. We had so many close calls! And, I just remember looking at Coach Nee, especially at Oklahoma State, and we had the ball, down 2 after getting a turnover, and he called a timeout, and just winked at me with a grin. It was so great; probably one of the greatest coaching-player times for me, knowing, “Here we go again, same situation.” And I got fouled and hit both free throws, and then we won the game in overtime, and that was the game that pushed us
into the NIT with that win (79-77, 2OT). So just the culmination of all the seniors was great, too, all of these guys that had been around together, and I can’t tell you all the stories (Laughs).
HHC: Oh, we heard about a few of them from Jackman, especially the ones about when you won the Rochester Classic (Laughs).
BC: Oh, yikes! I remember getting on the phone with my brother that night, and I don’t ever remember hanging the phone up (Laughs). And
besides that, one more thing from that year, beating Washington to go to the NIT in New York City was great, and I remember catching the ball on the wing in that game, and Coach Nee was yelling, “Shoot it, shoot it” and I passed it to the top. And then I got it back right away, and he yelled it again, and I made the shot to put us up one. And then T., Mr. Clutch at the line, hit a couple of free throws to seal the game. And then to hear the “New York, New York” song in the background, and then my wife and I getting a chance to go to New York and getting to play at Madison Square Garden…I mean how lucky can a guy from Muncie be to get all these things?
HHC: In retrospect, was it a positive that you got to play for two different Head Coaches?
BC: Yeah, from learning different things, and experiencing different people. It’s not good for Coach Iba by any means, and I feel bad for that, but it was good for me because I learned two different styles and two different personalities, and even our assistant coaches were different personalities. There were just a lot of life lessons. Anybody who says you don’t learn life’s lessons through athletics is crazy, and I hope I’m teaching those lessons to my players. That’s part of the reason I’m doing my job, is the joy of seeing young kids develop into young men and learning life’s lessons through sports.
HHC: Can you give us a funny Danny Nee story or two that stick out in your mind?
BC: Yeah, I’ve got a few. The one at Oklahoma when he got kicked out is very memorable. We were playing them down there, and it was a pretty close game, and we got a bad call. I remember it was on the sideline, and they called me out of bounds when I wasn’t, but I didn’t respond too much. But I look over, and Coach Nee was livid and on fire. Coach Nee starts yelling, gets a tech, and at that time, you had to have three to get kicked out, and then he got another one while they were shooting free throws, and we were all like, “Holy cow, calm down, we’re in the game.”
And they were getting ready to take it out of bounds, and he took his hand and put it to his throat like the ref was choking the game away, and he got his third tech. And I just remember the look on his face that he couldn’t believe he got his third, and we just tanked it after that situation. But you could see his care for us and his desire to win, and I really liked the fact that he got fired up. Another memory is that he got on us for our manners when we’d go out to eat. And so we were at Texas Tech, and we walk into the restaurant, and we’re all scared to death because we don’t want to do anything wrong. And he sits down, puts his feet on the table, and is real loud, and our jaws were dropping because he’d just gotten on us for this. But what he was doing was showing us how people misbehave and how they are not classy with how they look and act, so that was great, and a great learning tool for us. We had some nice real yell sessions, too, but he had a lot of different phrases that aren’t repeatable for Husker Hoops Central. (Laughs) But it was really fun; he was just fun to be around. And to this day, I still talk to him, and he still sends me a card wishing me luck, and I’ll call him, too, if I need help with things. We still have a good relationship.
HHC: You played in a lot of big games while at Nebraska, and were a part of some amazing plays. What are your three favorite games and three favorite individual plays?
BC: I think my junior year, right after Dave went down, we beat #10 Oklahoma and I hit a shot to win the game (66-64). I just remember going to the bench and Coach Iba was telling us what our defense was, and I didn’t hear a word of what he said, because to be honest, I was thanking the lord that I actually hit a shot to win a game (Laughs). Beating #16 Kansas my senior year at our place was great, too (83-81, OT). We had come so close, so many times, and my respect for Larry Brown and Danny Manning and Ed Manning was so high, and I had so much respect for that program, and then to finally beat them was very special. And then the first game I ever played in was very special (Augustana (S.D.)). I took a charge on the first play I got in and got the call, and that was great. I just remember being really skinny, scared, and excited all wrapped up into
one game. As far as individual plays go… One of my favorite things to do was throw the ball up towards the goal, and the greatest jumper I’ve ever seen was Bernard Day. That guy was phenomenal. T. said some things about me, but if Day would have been 6’6” or 6’7”, wow, watch out.
He was unbelievable; he would jump so high. I just remember we’d run a lob play, and I don’t know if you can capture this in your thoughts, but the crowd would gasp like, “Oooh… What’s he doing?” And I threw one once where I thought there’d be no way Bernard would get it, and he
just went up and dunked it. I’d say that shot against Oklahoma was pretty special, and then my favorite thing to do was to pass the ball, so any
pass that I made that a guy got a shot and was able to score was pretty cool. I also remember getting knocked out quite a bit. Getting undercut one time against Oregon, and a guy ran in my back one time against Creighton, and I thought my teeth were on the floor. I’d get migraines, too, when I got hit in the head, and I’d have a tough time. But those were battle wounds; you can talk about those, and especially to my students. When they get tired of hearing me talk, I’ll bring them up from the glory days (Laughs).
HHC: What are your favorite off the court memories of your times in Lincoln?
BC: The University is really nice. But I’m going to go with a couple of my roommates that I met out there from Nebraska, Kirk France and John Dubas, who have been really good, life-long friends that I got to know and hang out with. Just to hang out and be together was great. I got
married my junior year in college, so having my wife out there with me was wonderful. We didn’t have much money, and we talk about that, but yet we seemed to have a great time. We are making pretty good money now, and we wonder how in the world we ever did it. And Lincoln parents, too. We had a couple sets, in Jim and Marva Wasser, and David and Linda Bouwens. They were just assigned to different players where if you needed someone to talk to or a place to hang out just to get away, and that was kind of our link to the city itself. And football was awesome, too. That was such a great experience for me, and to this day, I will spend more time watching Nebraska football than Nebraska basketball.
HHC: Aw, come on man!!!
BC: I know (laughs). But when you are that close to it, and when you are a player, it happens. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it or won’t watch basketball, it’s just that I didn’t experience any football as a player. When you’ve been on the court and done that, it’s not as new to you, I guess.
HHC: Do you still watch Husker Hoops on television or anything?
BC: We don’t get to see much Nebraska basketball in Indiana. I went back the year prior to my Hall of Fame induction in 2001 and played in the alumni game, and I couldn’t make it for my induction into the Hall of Fame because of coaching. We are either playing or practicing, so it’s pretty tough for me to get away. I do miss it though. I miss the people. My family is here in Muncie, which is why we’re here. If not, we’d still be in Lincoln.
HHC: What has Brian Carr been up to since 1987, and what is he doing today?
BC: I went to Canada for a couple of months and played professional basketball up there for a little while. It wasn’t long, but it satisfied me to see
what that life was like. And I’ve been teaching the last 17 years in physical education and health, and I have my Masters degree in Physical Education, and I’ve got two twin 13 year old daughters, Kendra and Kelsey, and my wife Becky and I, this will be our 21st anniversary this year.
And I’ve just been coaching and teaching on the high school level, and I’ve also coached baseball for 8 years, and basketball for 13 years. Right
now I’m teaching elementary and middle school physical education, and high school health, at the same school I attended. And I’ve been there the last nine years.
HHC: And then you’re doing the cooking show, right?
BC: (Laughs) That’s weak, I try to get away from that. (Laughs) But I also do a lot of outdoor stuff and like to hike and fish, camp, stuff like that, so I spend a lot of time in the outdoors, and a lot of time watching my daughters play volleyball. They actually won the national championship last year in 12 and under.
HHC: Very cool! Hey, we've set you up an e-mail account at firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you all right with taking some e-mail from our readers if we tell you how to check it?
BC: Absolutely, that’d be great. Anything to stay in touch out there and help you guys out.
HHC: Great! Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to add?
BC: I appreciate you doing all this stuff, it’s really neat. And I’ll tell you what; I’m really, really, lucky to have been a part of that. There are so many kids that don’t get those opportunities, and for some reason, I got it, and Nebraska was great to me, and I hope I provided something for them. But I obviously got the better end of that deal, that’s for sure.