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    Then & Now: Larry Cox

    Then & Now: Larry Cox

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)


    Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Cox played for the

    Huskers from 1974-1976, and is the all-time leader in

    field goal percentage at Nebraska (.672). Cox also was

    the Big 8's all-time leader in the same category.

    Cox, who is 44th on the all-time

    Husker scoring list (757 points), is a former Academic

    All-Big 8 in addition to his accomplishments on the

    court under the late Joe Cipriano. 

    The 6'6" Cox, who played center at

    Nebraska, is our latest guest in this Sunday's edition

    of "Then & Now".

    HHC: Welcome aboard.

    When was the last time you talked some Nebraska


    LC: Oh golly, a longtime. I think its been

    years. Every once in awhile, it comes up around here

    (Indiana) because Jack Moore is from Muncie, and Brian

    Carr coaches around here in the high school ranks.

    Actually, just this morning, a guy came up to me while I

    was working out and said, “You know Jack Moore is from

    around here and Brian Carr is still in town.” So, it

    does come up from time to time, but not much.

    HHC: You came to Nebraska in 1972, and

    arrived from Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver

    (Colorado) where you were an All-City performer. What

    made you choose Nebraska, and who else recruited you?

    LC: I was recruited by the University of

    Missouri and Colorado. But, some place in the middle of

    the recruitment process, both of them decided I wasn’t

    big enough and quick enough, so they dropped off

    somewhere in my senior year, and Nebraska was really the

    only one that stuck with me all the way through.

    HHC: Phil Chambers, Rickey Harris, and

    yourself were all from Denver and played at the same

    time. Was that pure coincidence, or was there some sort

    of connection from one of the coaches?

    LC: Well, Lonnie Porter was one of the

    assistants, along with Moe (Iba), and he was from a high

    school (Manual High School) in Denver. He didn’t have

    anything to do with me, but definitely Phil Chambers and

    Rickey Harris were his connections.

    HHC: What was the perception of Nebraska

    basketball back then to a high school kid from Denver?

    LC: (Laughs) I was really naïve. I knew

    nothing outside of my own city. I didn’t even know that

    Nebraska had been #1 in football the year before, so I

    had no perception of anything anywhere. I actually

    thought Nebraska was somewhere around Arkansas, and I

    thought I was going someplace warm. And I showed up on

    campus my first winter and said, “What did I do to

    myself here?” (Laughs) 

    But as it turned out, it was a

    great choice for me, but I had no perceptions before.

    HHC: Talk about the late Joe Cipriano,

    both as a man and basketball coach.

    LC: I really liked

    Joe. Joe was funny and always doing extravagant things.

    He was just kind of a dandy… Sort of always thinking

    about stuff. He always seemed to buy new shoes, and I

    got along with him real well. He was good at recruiting

    and good at public relations, and just a nice man. I was

    sorry to see him pass.

    And, I had a pretty good

    relationship with his son, Randy.

    As far as on the court, I think he

    was influenced quite a bit by Moe Iba’s style. Moe

    brought the theory to the basketball team and made sure

    we played tough defense. Joe, I think, emulated Bobby

    Knight somewhat with that style of play. Of course we

    never had the talent or size of Indiana schools, but he

    was a good coach and very flamboyant, and fun, to play


    HHC: What are your favorite memories of


    LC: One of my favorite memories was one

    time he got real upset and things weren’t going our way,

    and he went on the court and was circling in this

    pinkish/purple sports coat, and he swinging it over his

    head and got a technical foul, which I think was at

    Kansas, who he especially hated.

    Actually, he’d made us go out

    during the “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant and have us go

    around the Jayhawk during that and dribble just to get

    them to boo, and he’d go talk to them and egg them on


    HHC: (Laughs) Classic. You were a little

    bit undersized to be a center at 6'6", but led the

    Huskers in rebounding in 1976 and led the Big 8 in field

    goal percentage in 1975. What made you play bigger than

    you were?

    LC: Hmm… That’s a great question. I think

    I was really a role player and our offense was a very

    set offense. So, as long as you told me where to go or

    whom I was supposed to pass to, I was okay.

    I was never really a good one on

    one or individual player, like Marsh or any of those

    guys. I was a role player, and I tried to do what the

    coaches said. And, Coach Iba had us playing good defense

    and in good position for rebounds, and so I just tried

    to follow the plan.

    HHC: Your first year at Nebraska was

    1972-1973, and it was spent on the JV team, where you

    averaged 19.4 PPG and 16.5 RPG. At that time, were you

    forced to play on the JV team one year before you could

    play varsity, or what was the reason for you not being

    on varsity?

    LC: What happened was they had some really

    talented guys ahead of me. They had Ron Taylor, he was

    6’10”. Mark… from Iowa… I think it was Enright, and he

    was there that year. And then I think Brendy Lee was

    still there, and Don Jackson.

    So, they had some people ahead of

    me, and I was like the fourth center. Playing on the JV

    was a way of keeping me active and playing.

    HHC: 1973-1974 was your first year on the

    varsity team, and you guys went 14-12 (7-7). You

    averaged 7.0 PPG and 4.4 RPG, and the team got to travel

    to Italy following the season for three weeks, where you

    guys went 2-5. What was that experience like?

    LC: You know, I didn’t even make the trip.

    I opted out and missed out, and heard it was quite a

    trip. Lots of Bob Siegel stories about monks and

    monasteries, lots of things, but I wasn’t there


    HHC: (Laughs) In 1974-1975, you guys again

    went 14-12 (7-7), and lost three Big 8 games by a

    combined four points. Individually, you led the Big 8 in

    field goal percentage, and the team in free throws. What

    do you remember about that year?

    LC: They all blend

    together now, all those years… Boy.

    (Long Pause) I guess I remember the

    sense at the end of the year that we were improving and

    getting better, and that we were close. And I enjoyed

    that year especially because Kent Reckewey and Steve

    Erwin were older, and just being around them and having

    those friendships.

    HHC: 1975-1976 was

    your last year at Nebraska, and the team went 15-14

    (7-7), while you led the team in field goal percentage,

    rebounds, and free throw shooting. Your team also led

    the Big 8 in scoring defense and finished eighth

    nationally. What made that team so good defensively, and

    how big of a role did Assistant Coach Moe Iba play in


    LC: I think we played

    a very tough, aggressive defense, and we slowed the ball

    down. We played hard-nosed, man-to-man defense, and

    especially for a post on the inside, we worked a lot at

    not getting caught or pinned by the big man. I was

    always moving around and trying not to get touched or

    pinned with an elbow so we could steal the ball and keep

    them from it, so we spent a lot of time on defense.

    HHC: You finished

    your career as the Big 8's all-time leader in field goal

    percentage. What made you such a good finisher, and how

    big of an honor was that?

    LC: It was a tremendous honor. And the

    funny thing is people think of the percentage that I

    made, but if you think about where I was shooting from,

    the question is how could I have missed 33% of those?

    (Laughs) They were all put backs and dump offs, and I

    was trying to tell my son that I don’t remember a single

    move I ever put on somebody. All my scoring was

    offensive rebounds and put backs.

    HHC: (Laughs) You are

    way too modest.

    LC: It’s the truth

    (Laughs). The question is, how did I miss 33% of those


    HHC: After fifty

    years, the Coliseum also saw its last year of basketball

    in 1975-1976. Talk about what it was like playing there.

    LC: Oh, it was a

    wonderful place to play because it was awful. You go

    into the new stadiums and they are so comfortable, and

    it’s almost like watching a movie. At the barn, it was

    uncomfortable to sit, and so people stood, and they were

    so tightly packed into the bleachers. And I remember

    they used to put the big bass drum behind the opposing

    teams so that the band made the opposing team not hear.

    And, you had to move the fans on

    the side when they’d pass the ball in, and fans would

    pinch the players and pull on their shorts, it was


    When the place was full, it just

    rocked, and you just don’t get the sense from the new

    stadiums. There’s just something about playing in an old

    place that is great.

    HHC: What are your

    favorite memories of Nebraska, both on and off the


    LC: The one I get the

    most mileage out of is when we played the University of

    Indiana in the Indiana Classic in 1975. And, at the end

    of the game at Indiana, if you lose by 20 points, fans

    can take their ticket to McDonald’s and get a hamburger.

    And, if you lose by 30, they get a hamburger and fries.

    And with 5 minutes let, the fans were chanting “burgers,

    fries, and shake, to go,” “burgers, fries, and shake, to


    And the funny thing was that at the

    end of the game, Joe wouldn’t give as much as money to

    eat if we lost. Usually we’d get $7.00, but we’d only

    get $3.00 if we lost. So, we got $3.00 that night, and

    we were trying to figure out what to eat, when somebody

    said, “I wonder if we go to McDonalds, if they would

    give us a burger, shake, and fries, to go” since we

    don’t have money.

    So we go, and you’ve got 6’5”,

    6’6”, and 6’7” kids standing there, so obviously we’re a

    basketball team, and the kid behind the counter cracked

    up because he knew that we were trading in for our

    burger, shake, and fries.  

    So anytime my kid asks me if we

    were any good, I say “yes, we held the opposing team to

    less than a Happy Meal.”

    HHC: (Laughs) That is


    LC: (Laughs) Off the court, my favorite

    memories were that I was very involved with the Campus

    Christian group at the time (the Navigators), and that

    was a highlight. I learned a lot about myself and my

    relationship with God, and it was a very meaningful time

    for me.

    HHC: When was the

    last time you were back in Lincoln, and do you still

    keep in touch with anyone you met while in college?

    LC: I do keep in touch with people, mostly

    my Navigator friends. Last time I was there was the Hall

    of Fame Induction in 2000, and I brought my family, as

    we were living in Kansas City at the time.

    I read a lot of your articles and

    actually just e-mailed Jerry yesterday, but I hadn’t

    talked to him in probably ten years, and I think he was

    being inducted into the Hall of Fame last time I saw

    him, and I came down for that and talked to him.

    HHC: And what has Larry Cox been up to the

    past thirty years, and where will we find him today?

    LC: After graduation,

    I joined a non-denominational Christian organization

    called “The Navigators”, taking campus ministry

    positions at Iowa State University and then Drake

    University. After eight years in the ministry, my wife

    and I moved to Denver to start a business selling

    industrial oils, greases and filtration products along

    Colorado’s front range. We

    moved back to Lincoln in 1987 where I started graduate

    school in 1989. I completed my PhD at Nebraska in 1995,

    and have essentially been a business professor and/or

    entrepreneurship center director since then. I’ve taught

    at Florida International University, the University of

    Missouri-Kansas City, and at the University of

    Wisconsin.  I’ve also worked at the Kauffman Foundation

    in Kansas City, Missouri. 

    I’m currently an Associate

    Professor and Entrepreneurship Center Director at Ball

    State University in Muncie, Indiana. My wife, Elly,

    teaches special education at an elementary school. My

    oldest daughter is a junior on the crew team at the

    University of Wisconsin. My second daughter will be

    attending Wisconsin next year. My son is a junior at

    Muncie Central High School (Jack Moore’s alma mater),

    and my youngest daughter is a 7th grader.

    HHC: If we set you up

    an e-mail account at

    [email protected] , are you game

    with taking some e-mails and questions from our readers?

    LC: Oh sure.

    HHC: Great. Thanks a

    lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to add?

    LC: No, I think you covered it all. Thanks

    a lot for the interview.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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