Then & Now: Henry T. Buchanan
Compiled By Dave Brandon
(Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)
T. Buchanan played at Nebraska from 1987-1988, and is
one of the more interesting Huskers of all-time, as he
served a six-year tour in the U.S. Air Force between
high school and college.
played on Danny Nee's first team at Nebraska, and played
an intricate part in the 1986-1987 21-12 and third place
NIT team, as he led the team in three-point percentage
and was among the leaders in several other categories as
the Husker point guard.
former third-team All-Big 8 player is our latest guest
in this Sunday's edition of "Then & Now."
HHC: Henry, thanks for joining us. Before we
talk more about you, tell us what your son Bryan is up
to these days, as we know he played a year under Coach
Nee and later transferred and started at IUPUI.
HTB: He’s working for UPS, and doing some
refereeing around Lincoln, and still playing a little
basketball here and there. He actually plays with me and
in my league quite a bit.
HHC: Ron Hunter is the coach at IUPUI, and
he'll long be remembered for putting them on the map and
leading them to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Is he as
amazing a man and coach as he seems?
HTB: Well, I can’t speak for Bryan, but
he’s here right now if you want to ask him.
HHC: Yeah that’d be great.
here he is.
HHC: Hey man,
just wanted to ask you about Ron Hunter at IUPUI. Is he
as cool of a guy and great a coach as he seems?
BB: Oh yeah, actually he is a real good
coach. I’d say he was a really a player’s coach. He
helped out players a lot, and was easy to get along
with. During the game, you would give him a suggestion
on the court, and he actually listened to you. Just a
real good players coach, and I’m glad I got a chance to
play for him.
about what it was like playing under Danny Nee in
1998-1999, the season in which you redshirted and spent
BB: That was probably one of the best
experiences I had actually. He helped me develop,
because out of high school, I wasn’t really physically
gifted or real athletic. But my first year I got in the
weight room and developed better, so I definitely think
that helped me out a lot in the long run.
HHC: Awesome, it was good to talk with
BB: No problem, here’s my Dad.
T., now onto your career. You went to high school at
Muncie Southside High School in Muncie, Indiana, and
became the third point guard from there to play for the
Huskers in the 1980's, as you joined Brian Carr and the
late Jack Moore. Did you know anything about those guys
before coming to Nebraska?
HTB: Well, I played against Jack Moore and
Jerry Shoecraft in high school, and they were like
rivals. Moore and I also played against each other at
the YMCA in pickup and stuff growing up. And then I
heard about Carr when I was in the military, which I of
course did before coming to Nebraska. I used to always
call back and check on high school sports there, and I
remember my friends telling me that this kid was leading
the city in scoring and assists for two years in a row,
and they told me his name was Brian Carr. I had no idea
I’d end up playing in the backcourt with this kid later.
probably the best tandem I have ever played with in my
life, and that includes high school, JUCO, and in the
military. He should still be in the NBA today, that’s
how good he was. Great passer, amazing court vision, and
a flat out leader.
weren’t for Danny Nee forcing me to play point guard and
him to play two guard, he would have been the all-time
assist leader in the Big 8 in front of Cedric Hunter.
But unfortunately, Nee wanted me to be the point guard,
and him the two guard, so it was kind of a struggle, as
far as trying to make that work my junior year on the
court, because I understood that he was a better passer
and had better vision than me.
could shoot the three, but I don’t think Danny Nee ever
liked my jump shot because of the way that I shot. I
wish I would have played for Nee in the later years,
because I think he would have allowed me to do more and
put Carr where he should have been.
again, I can’t tell you how great Carr was. And today,
believe it or not, besides coaching basketball and
baseball back in Muncie, he has his own cooking show.
HTB: Yeah man, I’m serious, he’s like a chef.
I’ve never been fortunate enough to try his cooking, but
I hear it’s great from my brother, who runs a restaurant
up there and runs into him from time to time.
HHC: If we’re
ever in Muncie, we’ll try that out!
HTB: You need to!
After you finished high school, you actually joined the
U.S. Air Force and spent six years in active duty. What
made you choose to go that route?
HTB: Well, I only had one basketball offer
out of high school, because I was kind of a 6th
man and a late bloomer. The only offer was a community
college, and my grades weren’t good enough, so I decided
to go the military route. I worked on F-16 fighter
planes, which are still the number one plane in the
world, and I did hydraulic systems on that. I actually
almost took a job after my service time was up, but
luckily I didn’t, or I would have never played college
thing that was lucky about the military was that they
take their sports real seriously, and I really developed
my game. I knew Paul Westphal, who actually tried to
recruit me to some school he was at in Arizona, Grand
Canyon or something. And then Larry Brown knew me as
well, and he helped get me to Hutchinson in Kansas,
where I went before going to Nebraska.
HHC: Speaking of Hutchinson, you were a
teammate of one of your Husker teammates, Derrick Vick.
Did you guys agree to go to the same college, or was it
coincidence that you both ended up at Nebraska?
HTB: Oh yeah, it was definitely a package
deal. We both got recruited by KU, but at the time, they
had Cedric Hunter, and I didn’t want to go there and be
a backup, although Coach Brown assured me he’d take me
and wanted me. I had too much pride at that point, and
with the campus at Nebraska selling itself, and
especially Danny Nee, I chose Nebraska.
tell you that Danny Nee is a smooth talker Dave, and it
was tough to turn him down, as I told you at lunch last
week. He just had that military background and made you
believe in him, and after spending time with him, he was
a person you wanted to play for.
HHC: You were there for his first season
at Nebraska in 1986-1987, but before we get more into
your times at Nebraska, we've got to know; Was Nee
mellower in his early years, or was he the same right
off the bat?
HTB: Oh no, he was most definitely NOT
mellower. And, I could tell you so many stories about
HHC: Please do, because that was our next
HTB: Do you
want the bad or the good?
HHC: (Laughs) Both please.
some of the bad was on the personal side. Rich King was
one of his big recruits out of Omaha, and of course Beau
Reid came down with his Dad and had known Danny from
Ohio. And let me tell you, Beau Reid is one of the
toughest competitors ever. The guy never took a night
off, even in practice, and that’s why
article that he wrote for you guys after the
Creighton game was him, word for word. He just never
took a day off, and played just as hard against us as he
anyway, one day in practice, I was running the baseline,
and Beau throws this cheap elbow in my ribs, and I went
after him. And they broke it up, and nothing transpired,
but then Danny starts ripping me about it, and I had had
enough by this point, and we got to arguing. So, he
makes the rest of the team start running, and I made
some statements about him spoiling King and Reid, and we
stood at mid court, arguing nose to nose while the rest
of the team ran. So I commented to Danny, and I said to
him, “If you just brush against me, I’m going to knock
you out man.” (Laughs) So I told him he was messing with
the wrong guy, because I wasn’t no kid, and to this day,
I will say that he almost got his butt kicked that day.
was my bad incident with Danny, as far as my playing
career goes. But winning man, that’s why you wanted to
win for him so badly, because he was one of the best
guys ever to be around when you won games, and the worst
when you lost. I remember we beat Furman out in North
Carolina, and came back and played Grambling and we lost
at home. And he made us practice after the game he was
just not the person you wanted to be around when you
lost, but when you won, he was the man. I remember
winning games under him, and he would buy us Bud Light,
and I’m still a Bud Light man to this day because of
I’m serious Dave, I used to be Miller Lite, but now it’s
Bud because of that. There was nothing better than
drinking Bud Light and watching game tapes with Danny
HTB: Yeah, but I also want to say, one thing
that people don’t know about Danny is that he preached
academics and the corporate world. He may have talked to
you individually about the NBA, CBA, or playing
overseas, but Danny was all about getting an education,
and constantly preached to you about how important
academics were, because after basketball, you needed to
have a life.
after I graduated, when I was applying at State Farm, I
honestly included everyone on my reference list on my
resume that I thought would put in a good word for me…
Coach Bargen, teammates, boosters, anybody, but actually
didn’t include Danny, because I didn’t feel like we left
each other on the best of terms. But get this, my boss
at State Farm didn’t call anybody except Danny, who told
him I was one of the best leaders he ever coached. Had
it not been for Danny, I would never had been at State
to this day doesn’t know that I didn’t put him as a
reference, so I really appreciate him more now than I
HHC: Now, onto
1986-1987, when you guys went 21-12 and finished third
in the NIT Tournament. When we talked to Danny Nee a
couple of weeks back, he said that the success of that
team could be traced to the great Moe Iba defense that
had been installed the previous year. Do you agree with
HTB: I do agree with that. Those guys they
had at Nebraska were so good defensively, like (Keith)
Neubert, (Anthony) Bailous, (Bernard) Day, (Brian) Carr,
(Mike) Martz… But I will also tell you that I’d like to
give Gary Bargen a lot of credit too, because Derrick
Vick and I came with him from Hutchinson, and we
complimented the Iba coached players so well
Iba was a big reason for our success, but I have to give
Gary Bargen credit for instilling that defense in myself
and Vick, especially me. I wasn’t a good defensive
player at all prior to being coached by Coach Bargen,
and he really taught me how to become a stopper and grow
as a player and person.
quick thing about Keith Neubert, and I know this is off
topic, but I wish he would have come back out for
basketball my last year. He had one of the best shots I
have ever seen from 15 to 18 feet, but just didn’t get
along with Coach Nee, which was unfortunate, so he stuck
with football that last year.
HHC: What are
your favorite memories of that first season at Nebraska?
HTB: Man, just hitting those free throws
against Washington with virtually no time left on the
clock to seal the trip to New York in the NIT. I
remember waving my arms and telling the crowd to calm
down, because they were so loud that it made me nervous
and I couldn’t focus.
after I hit them, I remember hearing “New York, New
York” and having my 6 or 7 year old son in my arms as I
cut down the net on that ladder. Man, that was amazing.
your senior season at Nebraska, you were the oldest
player in the Big 8. Did you catch a lot of flack about
that from opposing fans and players?
HTB: Actually, not really, because there
was another guy at Georgetown at the time named
Hightower, and then a guy at K-State my junior year that
was the same age and had been military. So, I caught
more flack from my teammates, who called me grandpa,
than the rest of the guys and fans, to be honest. And
The Sporting News did a story on my age too, but in
the end, it worked out well, because I was like a big
brother to my teammates and really took care of them.
HHC: And speaking of your senior
season, 1987-1988 was a disappointment, as you guys
finished 13-18. However, you were named a third-team
All-Big 8 selection, and a first-team academic All-Big 8
performer. Which award meant more?
Academics, and I’ll tell you why Dave. Believe it or
not, my cumulative GPA from my high school was a 1.59.
All I did was play basketball, and after basketball, I
never showed up to class. I don’t know what I learned in
high school, pretty much nothing. So, to be able to get
a bachelor’s in science with an emphasis in accounting
was by far the biggest accomplishment in my life.
I got from the university is awesome as well. They used
to have in the basketball offices there, a picture of me
trying to shoot a reverse layup against Danny Manning,
and under it, it says, “First team academic All-Big 8.”
And, I have it in my basement now, its pretty awesome.
HHC: And while you guys didn't win a lot
that season, you had to have felt that you helped plant
the seeds for success of that 1990-1991 team, because on
that team your senior season were Beau Reid, Clifford
Scales, Rich King, and Kelly Lively. Did you feel like a
mentor on that team?
HTB: Oh yeah, most definitely. At the
time, to be honest, the losing was tough, because I felt
like Danny was really sacrificing the senior season of
myself and Vick. But in retrospect, I see that he had to
rebuild for the next year, and I just didn’t understand
what that was at the time. But I definitely think we
could have been better at the same time.
year, we did have some big wins, like against KU when
they went on to win the championship. We also beat
Missouri. that year, Missouri, etc.
we had a disappointing season, but I understand it more
now than I did then, since he was just trying to rebuild
and get Scales, Reid, etc. the chance to develop. I
still to this day feel we could have easily been a .500
or better team in the Big 8 though, but at least we had
big wins and beat Larry Brown and Danny Manning two
years in a row at the Devaney Center.
still let Danny know about that whenever I talk to him.
HHC: Oh yeah?
HTB: Yeah, and speaking of disappointment, and I
don’t want to switch subjects, but he’s so disappointed
in this era’s basketball players and the fact that the
players today aren’t like they were then. He says he
can’t believe how these guys everywhere won’t even play
pickup ball, so that just goes to show you that it’s a
new generation, and that puts the nail on the head of
what Beau Reid said, about how these players think they
are better than they are.
I am, 45 years old and playing against them, and they
are quitting before I do. Back then, you couldn’t peel
us out of the gym, but it’s just a new generation today,
and they don’t understand the work ethic it takes to
succeed. It’s a big step from high school and junior
college to play at the Big 12 level, and I don’t think
several kids don’t understand.
HHC: What are your favorite memories of
your times at the University of Nebraska?
HTB: Oh, the one that sticks out in
particular was the game we won against Washington to go
to New York, as I previously mentioned. That kind of
made up for me missing that shot against K-State in the
Big 8 Tournament my junior year, which probably would
have propelled us to the NCAA Tournament instead of the
NIT. I hit that shot a thousand times, and it was an
open three in the corner off of a perfect pass from
Brian Carr, but I saw Mitch Richmond out of the corner
of my eye and just missed it because I lost my focus. We
still should have gone to the NCAA’s that year though
because we had a better record than K-State, but we lost
to them in the first round of the Big 8 Tournament so I
guess that made sense.
the coolest thing about hitting those free throws and
sending us to New York was that I picked up my son at
that time, which I already talked about. But when he was
at Nebraska for that year, they did a feature on him in
the program, and I have it in my basement. And they
asked him what his favorite memory was of his Dad
playing at Nebraska, and he said his favorite memory was
that same one, me holding him in my arms as I cut down
that net when he was 6 or 7 years old.
court, my best memory was going to my graduation
ceremony, and having my parents there. I was the first
family member in my immediate and extended family at
that time to achieve my bachelor’s degree, so I think
walking across the stage, and having everyone there, was
just great. And then today, I’ve got a niece, brother,
and cousin’s that have degrees, so its almost like I
opened the doors and set the stage for several relatives
to walk the same path. So, I think that was my proudest
moment off the court.
HHC: And you have stayed around Lincoln
since graduating, and we hear you still follow the
Huskers closely and play ball against some of the
current Huskers from time to time. Tell us about that?
HTB: Oh yeah, I have never not played
pickup ball. From the Strickland’s to Lue’s to the
current players, I play with and against them all. And,
I worked out with (Charles) Richardson and (Jason)
Dourisseau over the summer, and got the chance to play
against some of the new recruits, too. I think they all
have the skills, but I think it’s a new generation, and
that their philosophy of basketball is different and
they don’t understand what they are lacking.
think its tough to be a leader on this Nebraska team
because of the lack of the respect that some of the
players have for each other. And, it’s kind of
disappointing for some of the older players, I think,
who really have that pride and respect of the Nebraska
program, such as (Wes) Wilkinson, who I played against
in the state games awhile back, and Dourisseau. These
guys have so much pride, and I honestly think they are
the new generation of basketball in general doesn’t
understand the opportunity that they have been given, as
far as playing basketball at the highest level and
getting their education. I just don’t think they have a
grasp on that.
yeah, I’m a big supporter of the program, but I will say
that I was a little disappointed in how some of the new
player’s played pickup ball against me this summer, and
how they treated each other, as well as the work ethic.
I know that when I played, Danny Nee had a genuine
concern of what you were doing during the summer. Sure,
he knew we drank beer and everything, but as long as you
were in that gym in the off-season and working out, he
was fine. But if you weren’t doing it, he was on you,
because he understood the most important time of the
year was the summer.
honest Dave, I’m not surprised they struggled against
Creighton, because Creighton has more pride in beating
us than we do beating them. But, the good news is that I
still think they can have a successful season, but
somebody is going to have to step up. But unfortunately,
it’s the younger generation that needs to step it up.
Joe McCray needs to change his attitude and start
listening to Coach Collier. And I think Richardson and
Dourisseau are some of the most laidback people that
should be leaders, but you almost can’t blame them
because of what they are dealing with. You have freshman
who think they are better than they are, and you’ve got
sophomore’s who don’t listen.
tough, but I think they will pull through.
HHC: Let’s hope so. Tell everyone what
Henry T. Buchanan up to these days, both personally and
HTB: I’ve been working at State Farm for
17.5 years now, and I’m contemplating following Beau
Reid’s footsteps and becoming an agent. I run a
basketball league, and I still play on a high level, and
run the best league in Lincoln, as far as talent wise
goes, at Sports Courts. I run that on Tuesday’s and
Thursday’s, and I’m still very involved in the
community, as far as the Nancy and Tom Osborne mentoring
program, and I’m a coordinator for State Farm and
recruit mentors for kid’s in the 3rd-12th
grade. And this is my fifth year doing that, and I have
a kid I’ve been mentoring since 4th grade, so
I’m heavily involved with that.
been involved in the LPS graduation requirement
committee, and I did that a few years back. I also get
involved in interviewing potential principles, K-12.
I still try to be active and involved in the community.
(Laughs) I picked up golf a few years ago and still
suck, but I like doing it. (Laughs) Waist of money for
HHC: If we set
you up an e-mail account at
[email protected] , would you be willing
to take some e-mails from Husker fans?
HTB: Most definitely, I’d love that. And
keep up the great work with this site, and thanks for