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    Then & Now: Larry Florence

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    Then & Now: Larry Florence

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    Larry%20Florence.jpgLarry

    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

    Nebraska?

    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

    tournament?

    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

    the worst?

    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

    Nebraska?

    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

    end?

    LF: From the fans?

    HHC: Yeah, the fans

    and media.

    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

    uniform?

    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

    play…

    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

    win).

    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

    something.

    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

    into coaching.

    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

    or add?

    LF: No, not really, other than it was nice

    to speak with you and I really appreciate you doing

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