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    Then & Now: Anton Lawry

    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).

    A 6’4”

    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.

    Lawry is

    our latest guest in this Sunday's version of "Then &


    HHC: Thanks

    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.

    So, I

    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


    AL: No.

    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

    don’t know.

    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).

    And Bus

    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

    about scoring.

    HHC: Besides

    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

    like that.


    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

    played with?

    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.

    HHC: Finally,

    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

    it all the way through. I’m glad I went there.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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