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    Then & Now: Erick Strickland

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    Then & Now: Erick Strickland

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)

    erickstricklandpage.jpgErick

    Strickland played at Nebraska from 1993-1996, and is

    sixth in all-time scoring with 1,586 points. In addition

    to being a prolific scorer, Strickland was also a great

    defender, as he is second in all time steals at Nebraska

    (257) and earned All Big 8 defense honors in three

    consecutive seasons. (1994-1996)

    Besides

    being a great basketball player, Strickland also played

    some minor league baseball with the Florida Marlins

    organization, and currently will get ready to begin his

    tenth season in the NBA, having spent time with the

    Mavericks, Knicks, Grizzlies, Celtics, Pacers,

    and Bucks.

    Erick

    recently joined HHC to talk about his times at Nebraska,

    and update us on his current situation in the NBA.

    HHC: First off, we want to start by telling you

    that you have made the state of Nebraska very proud, and

    its great to have you join us here on HHC.

    ES: Hey man, no problem, and thank you. I’m

    happy to do this.

    HHC: We've been talking a lot about Nebraska

    high school basketball on our site in recent weeks, and

    you obviously had a great career at Bellevue West in

    that great class of 1992. We know you’re far away from

    high school basketball now, but do you feel that a lack

    of Division One players being produced in the state has

    hurt the Huskers in recent years?

    ES: Yes, I think that it has hurt a little bit,

    but I also think that they haven’t attacked the talent

    pool the way they did when Danny Nee was there. I mean,

    I know there hasn’t been a huge number of D-1 kids

    recently, but I think that more so than not, Creighton

    has been more aggressive at taking the local kids and

    trying to do something with them. However, recruiting

    wise at Nebraska, I think they did a good job this year

    and will continue to do so; I really think that a lot of

    those guys will pan out.

    HHC: So will there ever be a class like 1992

    again coming out of Nebraska?

    ES: (Laughs) Aww man, its hard to say. I would

    like to hope so, but you know, we all just got together

    that year and said, “Hey, let’s stay home. Let’s build

    something that nobody else has done.” And I thought that

    we did a good job of that. So, if you get another

    talented bunch of guys that know each other and respect

    each other and want to do that, then its possible. But

    who knows when that will be.

    HHC: Yeah, it can be tough to judge when

    you'll get great classes like those. In your freshman

    year of 1992-1993, you guys made the school's third

    consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. However, we

    really want to hear more about your sophomore season.

    Talk about the magical year of 1993-1994 when you won

    the Big 8 tournament and made the school's fourth

    consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. What things do

    you remember most about that season?

    ES: Aww man… Well, I just really remember

    the hunger of everybody that summer. Everybody stayed

    that summer, got in the gym, played ball all day, and as

    a result, we really gelled. I think we really took it to

    heart that we were going to be special and work hard and

    compete. We just decided to take care of our home, and

    once we took that stand, it was just like, “Nobody is

    going to stop us.” 

    I

    remember at the start of that year, we came out in a

    tournament and fought off a real good Michigan team with

    the Fab 5. We actually should have won that game, and

    several others along the way. But either way, we just

    made sure that we weren’t going to settle for any short

    cuts - We were going to play and dominate in areas that

    we were strong in.

    HHC: As a team, your junior season was

    a little bit of a disappointment to many, as you made

    the NIT and won 18 games, but fell short of the NCAA

    Tournament. Many outsiders at the time said that this

    team had a chemistry problem, and perhaps had some

    clashing egos. What is your response to this?

    ES: Yeah… I thought that too. I felt that

    we didn’t reach our potential and it was because we had

    a lot of inside turmoil. We did a bad and poor job of

    establishing our roles for our team, and… I guess we

    just really didn’t come together as a unit that year.

    Leadership wise, we were young and didn’t really have

    any great leadership on that team. We had lost a lot of

    seniors, and guys were trying to establish leadership

    roles, but we just didn’t establish them very well.

    HHC: 1995-1996, which was your senior

    season, is one of the most memorable in Nebraska history

    for a couple of reasons. Before we get to the positive

    part, talk to us a little bit about the Danny Nee

    walkout. What do you remember about it, and in

    retrospect, do you regret it?

    ES: No, I don’t regret it. Actually, people

    don’t really understand what happened with that. We

    weren’t trying to cause uproar or controversy or

    anything of that sort. It was actually a day that was

    going to be an off day anyway, and he had ended up

    calling a practice. But the players, we wanted to get

    together and find out what the heck was going on,

    because we knew we were better than what we were

    playing.

    We

    really aired out a lot of things and found out what

    people felt, as far as perceptions of the team and

    coaching staff. And we came to find out that a lot of

    the problems and controversy that was going on was led

    by the coaching staff themselves.

    It was

    like, players would have concerns, and they would voice

    them to coach, and then coach would play those concerns

    off to other players, and basically it started pitting

    us against each other. The coaching staff would say,

    “Well, I understand what you’re saying,” and then your

    teammates would find out that others went into talk

    about them or the situation… It was really wild.

    Once we

    found out all that stuff, we just said, “Screw it man,

    lets go out here and just finish our season off. We

    don’t care about coaches and what people are saying,

    lets just go out here and play man.”

    I think

    for me that was one of the lowest points of my life,

    because I literally almost quit playing basketball. I

    was just so disappointed with people’s work ethic and

    how we were just letting everything fall apart.

    HHC: Not a good situation, huh?

    ES: Yeah, not at all man. (Laughs) And sorry

    about going off on a tangent about that.

    HHC: No, the more, the better. During that

    same year, you guys overcame all odds and ended up

    winning the NIT title. Talk to us a little bit about

    what you remember, and which was more gratifying to you,

    winning the Big 8 tournament in 1994, or the NIT in

    1996?

    ES: I think both of them were equal. The Big 8

    was awesome, because it was a first for the school and

    just an exciting accomplishment. But the NIT was also

    great because we came together after having a horrendous

    season, and we weren’t able to put it all together in

    the Big 8 tournament that year, but we still didn’t

    quit. And, we made something out of nothing, and when I

    say nothing, it was really nothing. 

    We

    basically came out of nowhere for that NIT. I don’t even

    know if we should have been in the tournament to begin

    with, that’s how bad we were. It was really nice to see

    us come together though at the end of that time, and we

    just wish we had more time to do it all over again and

    do something else different, but since we didn’t, that

    was a nice way to end the season and my career.

    HHC: Danny Nee was a textbook character, and we

    ask every player we interview for a classic Danny Nee

    story. Can you think of a funny story or two to add to

    our ongoing list?

    ES: Hmmm… (Laughs) Well, I’d probably say my

    favorite memory of him was when Eric Piatkowski had a

    party that we all went to. I think it was after we won

    the Big 8 tournament, and EVERYBODY was there, including

    all the coaches and Nee. Well at the party, we started

    giving out Danny Nee ties, and he was just so happy. He

    just hung out with us, and we all just had a ball

    together. (Laughs) Man, those Danny Nee ties on all of

    us were just so funny.

    HHC: Roy Williams wore them for years!

    Talk to us about the Michael Jordan you have in you, as

    you have played both professional basketball and

    baseball for the Florida Marlins organization. What does

    baseball mean to you now, and how much do you miss it?

    ES: To be honest, it meant a lot to me,

    actually, because I got to do something that a lot of

    people at first didn’t think I could do. I mean, after

    playing one season of it after my senior year of college

    and making it, and then having a chance to play more, it

    was just a very good experience.

    But,

    about baseball… I think what I take from it is that I

    look back and see all the players I played with in the

    minors, and some of them are still in the big leagues.

    To see them be successful and to know that I played with

    those guys is a very gratifying thing. There were a

    bunch of guys, such as Edgar Renteria, who won a

    championship with the Marlins, and at the time I played

    with him, he was only 16 or 17, but you could tell he

    was special. I played with Tony Sanders, who is the guy

    who played with his arm out of socket when he was

    playing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dave Berg, I’ve

    seen him somewhere recently. And I played against Johnny

    Damon, who was always a hard out. He’d hit the ball to

    shortstop, and you could barely get him out, not too

    mention he used to hit so many home runs it wasn’t even

    funny. Dmitri Young of the Detroit Tigers was another

    worthy opponent.

    It was

    just awesome man, and still is, just seeing those guys

    go through and make their way. It’s real gratifying for

    me to follow them.

    HHC: You've obviously had a very

    successful NBA career, as you are about to begin your

    tenth year in the league. Which teams do you have the

    best memories playing with, and who are your best

    friends in the league?

    ES: Dallas and Boston were great years for

    me, so I guess they stick out. Across the league, I’m

    real good friends with Paul Pierce, Michael Redd, and

    T.J. Ford.

    HHC: What about Pike, Mikki, and Tyronn?

    ES: Aww yeah man, yeah! Pike and I, we get

    together and play golf all the time. I talk to Tyronn a

    little bit too, although he moves around so much that I

    haven’t seen him as much lately. I saw Mikki when he

    came down to Dallas to work out, but I probably talk to

    Pike more than I talk to any of them. And from college,

    I still talk to Jamar Johnson, Terrance Badgett, a lot

    of those guys.

    In the

    league though, it’s kind of weird, because it’s like a

    little fraternity. Some of your teammates you’re close

    to, and some of them you’re not. And, when you leave a

    team, its tough to stay as close as you were with those

    guys, since you were with them all the time. But, I

    still stay in touch with the people who are most

    important to me.

    HHC: Finally, talk to us about where Erick

    Strickland will be playing this season, and how many

    more years do you hope to keep playing?

    ES: I’m in Dallas right now in camp, and

    actually pulling up to the team hotel as we speak. Here

    are the keys, thanks.

    HHC: What’s that?

    ES: (Laughs) Sorry, I just parked my car. But

    anyway, I don’t know how much longer I’ll play, we’ll

    see, but maybe three or four years. Time will tell.

    HHC: Any dreams of coming back to the

    program at Nebraska someday in any capacity?

    ES: I mean we’ll see, I’ll have to play it

    all by ear, because somebody may want to hire me here in

    the league. If not, my heart is still with Nebraska, and

    we’ll play that by ear as time comes.

    HHC: Awesome. We’ll let you go hang with your

    teammates at your hotel, and thank you for taking the

    time to join us. Are you cool with taking some e-mails

    from Husker fans if we set you up an e-mail account

    through the site at

    [email protected] ?

    ES: Yeah, no problem, that’s cool. And

    thanks for having me and for doing the site!<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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