Then & Now: Larry Florence
Compiled By Dave Brandon
Florence played at Nebraska from 1997-2000, and is
fifteenth on the all-time scoring list for the Huskers
with 1,223 points. Florence also ranks third in Nebraska
career starts (105), eighth in games played (123), and
seventh in steals (137).
The former four-year starter and
6’5” forward is the latest Husker Alumni to join HHC for
a Sunday version of “Then & Now.”
HHC: Thanks for
joining us. You had a very successful high school career
at Phenix City High School (Alabama), where you averaged
19.2 PPG and 13.2 RPG as a senior, and earned All-State
Alabama honors before choosing Nebraska. Who else
recruited you besides the Huskers, and what sold you on
LF: I had a lot of
schools that were offering, but Nebraska, Auburn,
Alabama, and Wake Forest were my top choices.
I chose Lincoln because when I went
there, they were really focused on having me get out of
college with a degree, and I was going to have a one on
one session with a tutor. And also, when I came up there
I met Tyronn (Lue) and we hit it off well and I wanted
to play with him.
Jimmy Williams also played a big
role in me coming there and was the assistant who
recruited me most.
HHC: Did you know
anything about Nebraska Basketball before they started
recruiting you, and what was the perception of Husker
Hoops to you at that time?
LF: Well, I knew it wasn’t a basketball
school, but it was a program that I felt was reaching
toward basketball goals. And I just felt comfortable
when I went there.
The only thing I knew about
Nebraska was football, though, because the only thing we
ever got down here Nebraska related was football, and
never any basketball.
HHC: Your first year
in Lincoln was 1995-1996, and you sat out and attended
classes at Nebraska. Your first season on varsity was
1996-1997, and you started immediately. Talk about what
it meant to you playing right off the bat?
LF: It was really
exciting when coach decided he was going to start me. I
really was excited in getting to play with guys like
Cookie (Belcher) and Tyronn (Lue). I knew I could play
with those guys, even though there had been a lot of
talk about me not being able to adapt to the Division I
level, so I was excited to get that chance and show
everyone what I could do.
HHC: You guys made
the NIT that season, and 1997-1998 would be even better,
as you won 20 games and made the NCAA Tournament playing
against Arkansas. What do you remember about that
season, and how tough of a loss was that game in the
LF: You know what?
That was really tough losing to Arkansas, because we had
those guys. We had it won. They actually had folded and
then Coach Nee made some decisions that changed the
outcome of the game, and I was really upset with that
and it stuck with me for quite awhile, because I felt
like we had a great chance to beat them.
HHC: What do you mean
by decisions that changed the outcome of the game?
LF: Substitutions; let’s leave it at that.
HHC: Not a problem. 1998-1999 saw you guys
achieve similar successes to the previous year, as you
again won 20 games and made the NIT. You also went down
to Oklahoma and spanked the Sooners 96-81, but they
still made the NCAA Tournament over you guys. How big of
a travesty was that?
LF: It was hard, but
thinking back about it, they had the upper hand because
they were more known basketball wise, and their coach
was well known and well liked in the conference. But
yes, it was a hard thing to swallow.
HHC: Besides that,
another disappointment from that year was losing at
Texas Tech (73-68) in the final seconds of the game,
which most feel made the NCAA Tournament bubble pop. Do
you still have nightmares about Rayford Young going
coast to coast in that game?
LF: No, not really. A
lot of stuff I went through up there, it’s still in my
mind, but I don’t think about it like I used to. I
always felt we underachieved each year I was there.
HHC: Which year was
LF: The worst year
was my senior year. Cookie was out, Coach brought in
some new guys and a new system, and everything went
haywire that year.
HHC: Before we talk more about that
1999-2000 season, talk about what you remember with
Danny Nee’s job situation. Did you have a good idea it
would be his last season before the season even started,
or did you guys have no clue until the end of the year?
LF: We had a good idea that it was going
to be his last. We had talked about it and heard rumors
about it. But it didn’t really matter playing wise.
HHC: How difficult
was it to play that season and not make the post-season,
especially after making it your first three seasons at
LF: That was the
hardest thing because that was supposed to have been my
year, where we put it all together and we win on top of
that. I was supposed to become a more complete player,
and I thought we had enough talent to go to the NCAA
Tournament. It was just a really tough ending.
HHC: Do you agree with the sentiment that
had Cookie Belcher not gotten injured that year, you
guys would have made the post-season and Danny Nee might
still be at Nebraska?
LF: Yes, I do. I was
looking forward to Cookie and I being out there
together. We had talked about it all summer and all year
long, what we’d accomplish together. And Cookie brought
so much to our team that of course it took a lot out of
us. I think that was tough.
HHC: In your opinion,
did Danny Nee get a raw deal and unfair treatment at the
LF: From the fans?
HHC: Yeah, the fans
LF: Well… I mean, I
don’t really think that he got a fair shake for a couple
years there, because he always had a lot of pressure on
him. But if you look at the talent that he had, then you
could say that we underachieved; I’ll leave it at that.
HHC: What was the
biggest shot or play you ever made in a Nebraska
LF: Man, you’re
making me go all the way back here, I hadn’t thought
about this in awhile (Laughs)! Man… Biggest shot or
Okay, it was a game when we played
Baylor at home in 1997-1998, and Tyronn was injured, and
we were down, but we needed a spark and I started that
spark and I ended up having a pretty big game. I hit a
couple of last second shots, and none to win, but just
some to help spark it (Editors Note: A 66-55 Nebraska
HHC: And favorite
place in the Big 12 to play?
LF: I really enjoyed
Kansas, and that time we beat Kansas in 1998-1999, at
Kansas, it was on television and that was probably my
biggest highlight of my career (64-59 Nebraska win).
Man, what a feeling.
HHC: What are your
favorite off the court memories at Nebraska?
LF: I would say my
first two years. Anytime that we got together during
those years were great because those were more family
than the last two were. We would get together and go
hang out or go to Coach Nee’s house and go to a movie or
HHC: When was the last time you were in
Lincoln, and do you still follow the team at all?
LF: Man, I think it
was 2000 the last time I was there. But I’ve been trying
to keep up with both the basketball and football, yes.
HHC: And before we get to today, we have
to ask you for a funny Danny Nee story or two. Can you
add a couple to our ongoing list?
LF: Yes. I remember
one day we had gone to that laser tag thing in the maze
out there in East Lincoln, and Coach Nee thought he was
free and safe, and he took off running and ran into a
wall and busted his nose (Laughs). And his nose busted
wide open and everybody was laughing.
(Laughs) It was funny even for him
to be out there playing with us to begin with. But just
off hand, that’d probably be one thing I can think of.
HHC: (Laughs) That guy never ceases to
amaze us. Anyway, talk to us about what Larry Florence
is doing today, and what he has been up to since 2000?
LF: Well, I started
off alone because when Danny left, I never did hear any
contact from anybody that had said they would help me
out with my dreams of pursuing basketball. So what I did
was take it upon myself to get myself overseas, and I’ve
been doing that and trying to move my way up, and I’ve
also been working odds and ends jobs over here.
But my last basketball job was over
in Argentina, and if everything goes well and I get a
good contract, I’ll play overseas again next year. If
not, then I’ll try and use my education and get back
HHC: Awesome, sounds
like everything is going well. Larry, thanks a lot for
taking the time to join us, and are you cool with taking
some e-mails from the fans at
[email protected] if we set you
up an account?
LF: Sure, I’d like that.
HHC: Great! Thanks a
lot for your time, and anything else you’d like to say
LF: No, not really, other than it was nice
to speak with you and I really appreciate you doing