Then & Now: Anton Lawry
Compiled By Dave Brandon
(Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)
Lawry played at Nebraska from 1947-1950 under the late
Harry Good (1947-1954, 86-99).
guard/forward from Omaha South High School, Lawry saw
his teams go a combined 53-44 (.546) during his four
years in Lincoln, and was a part of the squad that
appeared in the 1948-1949 NCAA District game.
our latest guest in this Sunday's version of "Then &
for joining us. Do you keep up with the basketball
program at Nebraska anymore?
AL: I go to quite a number of ballgames.
HHC: Good to
hear! How do you think we’ll do next year?
AL: Well, all I’ve got to say is that you
don’t know who is going to be there. Is (Aleks) Maric
going to be gone? And we got rid of what, 3 or 4 players
this year? It’s going to hurt them, because it makes a
lot of difference if a person has a little experience.
The more experience you have, the better you should be.
HHC: This is
true. Let’s talk about you now. Tell us about your high
school career at Omaha South.
AL: I was a forward at South High, and we
ended up second in the state my last year. But we beat
(Omaha) Benson at Benson during the year, and we doubled
their score. And we met them in the district and they
beat us 22-18.
HHC: Ouch. And then what made you choose
to play basketball at UNL? Did they come to you, or did
you go to them?
AL: Well, we were under the GI Bill. I had
a scholarship to go to Wyoming, and two days before I
was supposed to go there they cancelled my scholarship
because I tried to transfer a couple of credits in
Spanish from Omaha U., and they said they couldn’t give
a scholarship to a transfer student. So, I hitchhiked to
Lincoln and talked to Coach Harry Good and he was open
arms to me. He said, “Yeah, come out,” and that was it.
ended up at Nebraska.
HHC: Your first season at Nebraska
(1946-1947) was also the first for Coach Harry Good.
Before we talk about him, did you ever meet L.F. Klein,
who coached at Nebraska for just one year the previous
HHC: And what
was your relationship like with Harry Good? Did you guys
get along well?
AL: Oh yeah, I got along with him real
well. Harry was a very quiet coach, and he was not too
proud to go on his own. We copied a couple of plays from
KU and Oklahoma.
HHC: What brought him to Nebraska from
AL: Just the money (Laughs). No, I really
HHC: Do you
remember any funny stories or moments with Coach Good?
AL: We had so many (Laughs). We had really
a great bunch. We were the last champions that Nebraska
had. In ’49 we had a playoff and we ended up as the
champs. And in ’50, we were co-champs again, there was
no playoff, but they gave it to Kansas University
because they had a sophomore by the name of Clyde
Lavella who was a great ball player. But there were
three teams who were good back then. Us, K-State, and
HHC: Before we talk more about those
years, 1946-1947 was your (and Good's) first year at
Nebraska, and the team went 10-14 (3-7, T-5th). What do
you remember about that first year on varsity?
AL: The only
thing I remember was I didn’t play that much. Second
year, I played pretty good, but I think my sophomore
year or my junior year we played Harvard in the Kansas
City Tournament, and they were the team that was asked
to come in and play with the Big 7 teams (Editors
Note: It was his junior year of 1948-1949, and Nebraska
won 56-54). Anyway, I had 11 free throw attempts in
that game against Harvard, and only made 4 of 11, and I
just can’t get over that (Laughs). And I just had lunch
today with Bob Cerv. Bob was my roommate on the road,
and I lived with him until he got married.
HHC: Talk more about your sophomore year
of 1947-1948, when you guys went 11-13 (5-7, 5th). As a
team, the Huskers led the Big Seven in scoring at 55.9
PPG. What made Harry Good's offense run so well, and
describe how the offense worked?
AL: It was our set plays - most of our scoring
came on set plays. It was kind of rare back then to use
them, but teams used to just drop back, and we’d start a
play, and they knew that we were trying to break a man
loose for a lay-up.
HHC: 1948-1949 was your junior season and
as you mentioned earlier, a very memorable one in
Nebraska history, since the team went 16-10 (9-3, T-1st)
and beat Oklahoma 57-56 to make the schools first ever
NCAA District Tournament. What do you remember about
that game against Oklahoma?
AL: Well, we played Oklahoma, and they had
their high scorer who I always guarded. And I forget his
name, but anyway, I guarded him my last two years, and
he didn’t score very many points off of me (Editors
Note: It was Wayne Glasgow).
Whitehead just bumped into him about ten years ago, and
he still talked about me and said that “I followed him
no matter where he went; I’d always be there.”
HHC: Do you remember who scored the
winning basket in that game or anything else about it?
AL: No. To be
honest, nobody cared who scored, as long as we won, and
that was the only thing I cared about. I never cared
making the NCAA District Tournament that year, Claude
Retherford finished his career at Nebraska as (then) the
schools all-time leader in points. Talk about what kind
of player he was?
AL: Claude was really… Well, I don’t know
what you want to call him. But first of all, he was a
lot of fun and a great shooter. And actually, he was a
really bad defensive ballplayer, and sometimes we’d
holler at him to switch, because if you got picked, you
yelled it and were supposed to, and his man would be
laying up the ball for a basket, and we’d holler switch,
and then he’d have the nerve to say, “Darnit, how come
you don’t switch, don’t you want to switch,” and stuff
Claude was really gaudy and a showboat, really, and a
heck of an offensive player. He could score from
HHC: Who were some other teammates you
AL: Bus Whitehead was the big guy during
that time, and he was 6’9”, but there weren’t that many
6’9” guys in the country playing then. Now you have at
least one on each team, and maybe two or three guys that
big. But back in the 40’s, you didn’t see that.
senior year Bob Pierce started the other forward with
me, and my junior year Joe Malecek started. But at
guard, Bob Cerv started all the time, and the other
guard was sometimes Joe Brown or Bob Gates, or Henry
Cech, the dentist.
HHC: Your last year at Nebraska was
1949-1950, and the team went 16-7 (8-4, T-1st) with a
chance to win the conference crown outright, but lost a
63-60 game to Kansas State on the last game of the year
to finish in the tie. How tough of a loss was that, and
what do you remember about it?
AL: We should have won that ballgame. That
is fact, and I’m not going to point my finger, but I
know who really lost the game, and I could say something
bad about two guys, but I don’t want to bring up
anything like that.
HHC: Fair enough. That season was also the
first year in school history that Nebraska was ranked,
as you guys were #16 in the AP Poll on the week of
February 28th, 1950. How big of a deal was that?
AL: It was a pretty big deal, and I think
it kind of went to some of the guy’s heads. Anytime you
are in a poll, it can happen, and I think that’s what
happened to our baseball team this year; they read the
papers too much.
HHC: What was the biggest play or shot
that you ever made in a Nebraska uniform?
AL: I think the biggest thing that I
always enjoyed was holding my man scoreless or to very
few points. That was my highpoint. And, I always had, or
usually had, the high scorer for any team except for the
great big men, and then Bus Whitehead would have them,
or if it was a little bitty guy, Bob Cerv would have
usually, I guarded the scorers, since I played guard my
first two years, and then forward my last two.
HHC: What are your favorite memories, both
on and off the court, while at UNL?
AL: Just being with the guys and stuff. I
thought we were a great bunch and everybody got along
with everyone, and we had just a lot of fun. And the
trainers were great, too. Buck Barder, George Sullivan,
or Sully, as we called him. Sullivan was a
student-trainer when we were there, and he would make
the road trips quite often. And then Doc was the trainer
when we were freshman.
what has Anton Lawry been up to the last fifty years,
and where will we find you today?
AL: After I left Nebraska, I taught and
coached for 35 years. I was a head coach at Cairo
Nebraska, out by Grand Island, and I was there my first
four years. And then after that, I spent six years at
Gretna, where I was also the principal. But after
awhile, they wanted me to be nothing but principal, so I
went to Elkhorn and got back in the classes and I
coached all the junior high kids at Elkhorn for 25
years. And I had football, basketball, and track at
Elkhorn. At the start I had one assistant, and when I
left, I had 3 or 4 assistants in every sport.
retired in 1985.
HHC: If we set you up an e-mail account at
[email protected] , would you be able to
take some e-mails from our readers?
AL: I don’t have a computer; my wife
doesn’t want one (Laughs).
HHC: (Laughs) Not a problem. Thanks a lot
for your time. Anything else you'd like to say or add?
AL: No, except for the fact that I really
enjoyed my four years at the university, and just loved