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    Then & Now: Jerry Shoecraft

    Then & Now: Jerry Shoecraft

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)


    Shoecraft played at Nebraska from 1979-1982, and led the

    Huskers in rebounding his senior season.

    Shoecraft, a 6'5" small forward, was a high school

    teammate of former Husker Jack Moore, and played a key

    role in helping the Huskers to the 1980 NIT.

    Shoecraft is our latest guest in this edition

    of "Then & Now."

    HHC: Jerry,

    thanks for joining us. You played high school basketball

    with Jack Moore at Muncie Central High School, and you

    guys led your team to a state championship in your

    senior season. How special was it to win a championship

    in a basketball-crazed state like Indiana?

    JS: It was

    pretty awesome, because in Indiana, that state is known

    for basketball. And, to win the state championship is

    very difficult considering the Indianapolis school’s

    usually dominated. Plus, the fact that we hadn’t won a

    championship for fifteen years until that year was

    pretty special.

    HHC: Speaking of Indiana, is the state

    really as crazy about basketball as they portray in


    JS: Yeah, it

    really is. Just as Nebraska is known for its high school

    football and producing products from its programs,

    Indiana is the same for basketball. It’s fascinating

    when you watch the movie (Hoosiers) and see my high

    school going against a smaller class school, and how the

    small school beats the big school. That’s a great film. 

    HHC: So the

    movie is based on your high school getting beat?

    JS: Yeah, that

    was our high school that got portrayed, because in

    Indiana, it’s not Class A-D like in Nebraska. You have a

    small school of 15 versus a school of 1,500 or so. So,

    you have to play the big schools in order to win it, and

    that’s how the movie showed my high school getting beat

    by a small school. It showed that with will and

    determination, a small school can overcome the odds.

    HHC: What

    brought you to Nebraska? Did you and Jack Moore agree to

    go to a school together, or was it just coincidence?

    JS: It was

    more of a situation where Jack and I were best friends,

    and he was getting a lot of offers. Nebraska was heavily

    recruiting me, and at the end, some high school kids

    wait too long before deciding, and he was in a situation

    where he had some choices but had waited awhile. So, we

    discussed it and decided we wanted to play together, so

    we both got the chance to come to Nebraska as a packaged

    deal and that’s what we did.

    HHC: What had you heard about Nebraska

    basketball before being recruited? Anything?

    JS: It wasn’t

    that I heard about the program, it’s just that when I

    first came here the atmosphere was what sold me. Just

    the people, the facilities, and it was a place that I

    knew beyond basketball would give me an opportunity to

    succeed in life. And that’s what sold me on signing with


    Just how

    great the Bob Devaney Sports Center was, and Nebraska

    football had a wonderful tradition, but I thought it was

    the atmosphere and people in Lincoln that I thought

    would give me the opportunity to get out of a somewhat

    negative atmosphere and elements in Indiana to give me a

    chance to realize my dreams.

    HHC: Describe Joe Cipriano in your own

    words, and talk about your relationship with him?

    JS: I really didn’t have too much of a

    relationship with him, because I got there towards the

    end of his life. But, when I did have the pleasure of

    getting to know him, he was a very funny guy who was

    always good to communicate with. He was competitive even

    though he was somewhat considered a funny character.

    And, his knowledge of the game was good and I felt like

    it was great to play for him and learn everything he had

    to teach us.

    He also

    took care of us freshman when we first got there.

    HHC: Your

    first season at Nebraska was 1978-1979, and the team

    finished 14-13 and 5th in the Big 8. What do you recall

    about your first season at Nebraska?

    JS: I thought

    it was pretty awesome. I got to start about five or six

    games as a freshman, and I thought it was great bringing

    a lot of energy into the game as a freshman, and

    hustling, diving, and playing defense. It was a little

    bit overwhelming at first going against the Big 8

    competition that existed here, because you had guys like

    Ricky Frazier, Darnell Valentine, and Rolando Blackman.

    It was just awesome competition in the Big 8.

    HHC: At what point after the 1979 season

    did you officially know that Cipriano had been diagnosed

    with cancer, and did you have any clue before finding


    JS: I didn’t have any clue. They told us,

    and I was shocked, and it went really quickly. He

    deteriorated really quickly from losing the hair, to

    getting thinner, and missing a lot of practices and

    games. It happened very quickly from originally finding

    out to him first passing away, so it was a sad moment in

    Nebraska Basketball history.

    I will

    say that I liked the good connection with his son

    (Randy) being here as an assistant, and I felt some

    continued connection with him though Randy, who I

    enjoyed being around, too.

    HHC: Your sophomore year of 1979-1980 saw

    Moe Iba as Associate Head Coach to Cipriano, and you

    guys went 18-13 and faced Michigan in the NIT. Talk

    about that year, and what it was like having Cip around

    one final time?

    JS: It was a great year. It was a

    sophomore season and that year I had the chance to start

    ¾ of the season as a sophomore. It was great going to

    the NIT, but unfortunately, we ran into Michigan, and

    they had a very good, talented team. 

    But, the

    experience of playing against a Big 10 team was great,

    and it was also amazing getting to the NIT and having

    such a successful season with all of those young kids on

    the team.

    HHC: After that season (1979-1980),

    Cipriano became very ill, to the point that he passed

    away just a couple of days before the beginning of your

    junior year in 1980-1981. How difficult a process was

    that to go through, and what do you remember about it?

    JS: It was a very sad time of emotions for

    most of us, as far as going through that and having to

    deal with still participating in the sport and focusing

    on schoolwork. Cipriano was well respected in the state

    of Nebraska and great for the University of

    Nebraska-Lincoln. So, it was a difficult time for us

    going through that transition.

    HHC: How do you feel Moe Iba did as a head

    coach that year (1980-1981), when you guys went 15-12

    and just missed the NIT?

    JS: It was a very difficult year. Just trying to

    adjust to a different style of play, where you come from

    high school and Cipriano where you are more using your

    athletic ability to do some things at more of a faster

    pace, and then going to more of a slower pace, defensive

    style of basketball. It was a big, big adjustment, and

    that’s why I think you saw a big difference in our

    junior years compared to our sophomore years, as far as

    adjusting to that style of play.


    I thought it was a very good disciplined system that

    taught you a good understanding of the game and focus on

    defense. So, it was an up and down year, but a great


    HHC: Before we talk about your senior

    season, talk about Moe Iba as both a man and coach, and

    describe your relationship with him?

    JS: I thought that Moe Iba was a good man

    and a good husband to his wife, and a positive to his

    children. He was a very defensive oriented coach, and

    wasn’t too much in the way of communication and laughter

    like a Joe Cipriano or Tom Baack.

    But, he

    was a good coach and he focused more on defense. He was

    a good, disciplined coach, and had somewhat of a Bobby

    Knight type of attitude, as far as getting things right

    and discipline. In the long run, that was good. 

    HHC: And your last year at Nebraska was

    1981-1982, and your team finished 16-12 while again just

    missing the NIT. You guys scored one of the biggest wins

    in school history that season, as you defeated 19-0 and

    #1 Missouri 67-51. Is that the game that sticks out as

    your favorite during your career at Nebraska?

    JS: Yeah. Well, not necessarily the game

    that sticks out the most, because we had some other

    opportunities in Hawaii and playing against Wisconsin,

    Louisville, and some other schools. But, beating

    Missouri when they were ranked #1 was a great feeling,

    because we did it on their home court in a very hostile

    environment. It was a situation where we played the best

    together as a team as we ever did in my four years, and

    it was a pretty good experience.

    HHC: Jack Moore also won the Naismith

    Award that year, which was given to the nation's best

    player under 6'0" tall. What did that mean to him and

    the team?

    JS: I thought that was great for him and

    for the University of Nebraska. It demonstrated that

    Jack was only 5’9” but had the heart of a lion. He was a

    great floor general who we all fed off of, and I thought

    that was a great moment in Nebraska Basketball history

    to win that. He was just awesome, and a great,

    outstanding player in the Big 8.

    HHC: What was it like playing your entire

    high school and college career with Jack?

    JS: It was great because we started off

    basically playing together in 6th grade, even

    though we went to different schools. We played together

    in the summer and in camps, and finally when we got to 9th

    grade, we decided to go to the same school and continued

    our friendship all the way through college. 


    Moore was my best friend, and it was a sad day when I

    lost him, but his memories live on and he was a great

    inspiration. He did a lot for Indiana basketball and

    Nebraska basketball, so it was great, and I couldn’t

    have asked for a better teammate and friend for all

    those years growing up.

    HHC: What are

    your favorite memories at Nebraska, both on and off the


    JS: Probably one of the things that a lot

    of people tell me, and I’d finally agree with this, but

    for four years, I had a good career at Nebraska. It may

    not have shown up in the stats, but I think it showed up

    in my enthusiasm and work efforts, and the fans

    appreciated it so much because of the excitement that

    they had when I was in the game and throwing shoes on

    the floor, and it made me very popular in Nebraska

    Basketball history from a fans stand point. Maybe not

    necessarily leading in the stats, but there were other

    intangibles that make up a great basketball player other

    than stats. And, I think I was an example of someone who

    was a blue-collar basketball player that did what he

    could for the team in order to win, and I think the fans

    appreciated that.

    Also, I

    was respectful to people on and off the court, and had

    great relationships with people in the dorms and in the

    city of Lincoln, and so it helped me out a lot just

    being a good person on and off the court.

    HHC: And when was the last time you were

    in Lincoln, and do you still follow the team at all?

    JS: I live in Lincoln, actually. I don’t

    follow them as much as I used to. When you’ve got

    changing coaches and things of that nature, you tend to

    drift away a little bit.


    some new coaches are more inviting of the alumni still

    being part of the program, while others seem to not

    think that’s very important. So, these last five or six

    years, it seems like it hasn’t been communicated with

    the alumni very much, so I don’t follow it as much as I

    used to.

    HHC: Finally, what has Jerry Shoecraft

    been up to the past twenty-three years, and what is he

    doing today?

    JS: I’m in Real Estate working for

    First Management. I have a strong passion for real

    estate, so I’m doing that. I did a little coaching on

    and off at Doane College, and was an assistant there.

    Now I’m just involved with my boys who are participating

    in sports and are very active in basketball. And, I’ve

    got a daughter who is very talented in basketball and

    volleyball, and my two boys are also great in

    basketball. So that keeps me busy, just helping them

    realize their dreams.

    HHC: If we set you up an email account at

    [email protected] , would you be willing

    to take some notes from our readers?

    JS: Yeah, sure.

    HHC: Awesome. Jerry, thanks a lot for

    taking the time to join us. Anything you'd like to add?

    JS: Just the fact that Henry T. Buchanan

    thinks he’s better than me, but he’s still not today.

    HHC: I know,

    he talks a lot. Grant and I had lunch with him and Beau

    a couple of weeks back and he kept blabbing about how

    good he was and still is!

    JS: (Laughs)

    Unreal. Yeah, he does talk a lot, and we’re in a league

    together and still competitive. Plus, we’re still

    whopping up on these 20 year olds because they don’t

    understand the game like we do, or keep their bodies and

    mind as strong as us.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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