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    Then & Now: Lynn Mitchem

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    Then & Now: Lynn Mitchem

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy UIC Media Relations)


    Mitchem was an assistant coach at Nebraska from

    1987-1992, and helped coach the Huskers to a 106-82

    record, along with two NCAA tournaments and two NIT's.


    was instrumental in the 1991 recruiting class that was

    considered one of the nation's ten best, and played

    a large roll in helping the Huskers land Rick King

    and Eric Piatkowski.


    who played his college ball at Butler and finished his

    career third all-time on the Bulldog-scoring list, came

    to Nebraska when Danny Nee did (1986-1987), and is now

    an assistant coach at Illinois-Chicago.

    He is

    our latest guest in this Sunday's edition of "Then &


    HHC: Thanks

    for joining us. How did the season go for UIC this year?

    LM: We were

    16-15, and we finished tied for 3rd in our

    conference, and we got beat by Wisconsin-Green Bay in

    the second round.

    HHC: Not bad, sounds like you’ll be real

    good next year from what I hear.


    Definitely, we’ll get things going here.

    HHC: You

    finished your playing career as the third all-time

    leading scorer at Butler, and besides that, have been

    coaching in the Horizon League the last five seasons.

    With all those Horizon League and Butler connections, do

    you know Barry Collier at all?

    LM: Oh yeah, I

    know Barry. I was also in the Horizon League at Loyola

    of Chicago, and so we coached against him then. And the

    funny thing was that Barry first started off as a

    graduate assistant at Idaho, in like 1979 when I

    graduated from high school, and I remember him calling

    my house when he was an assistant at Idaho.

    HHC: Small world, huh? Hey, prior to

    coming to Lincoln with Danny Nee in 1986-1987, you

    served one season as an assistant coach to Gene Keady at

    Purdue. What was that experience like, and what did you

    learn from him?

    LM: Coach Keady is obviously a legend, and

    I learned a lot from him. He taught me how to handle

    people, players, and how hard we had to work to get

    results. Just basically, things like that.

    HHC: Talk about your background with Coach Nee,

    and what sold you on coming to Lincoln with him in


    LM: I remember Coach Nee being an

    assistant coach at Notre Dame, so he was recruiting one

    of my teammates, and he recruited me just a little bit,

    although not much. So I knew him prior to that, and when

    the opportunity came, I took it, because I liked his

    personality and how he did things, so it was a no

    brainer to go to Nebraska.

    HHC: Do you

    still stay in touch with him?

    LM: I saw him

    this summer, but haven’t talked to him since he resigned

    at Duquesne.

    HHC: 1986-1987

    was an exciting year at Nebraska, as in your first year,

    you guys went 21-12 and finished third place in the NIT.

    What stands out about that team and year?

    LM: You know what, I remember we had good

    guards in guys like Brian Carr. Him and Bill Jackman

    provided great leadership, we had a great player in

    Bernard Day, and Derrick Vick and Henry T. Buchanan came

    off of the bench and gave us a spark. So the first year

    there, that was a great, great experience, just going

    that far with those guys, and was very enjoyable.

    HHC: Right around that time, the coaching

    staff really started to jump start recruiting, as you

    got guys like Rich King, Beau Reid, and Clifford Scales.

    How were you able to sell the program so well?

    LM: Rich King was from Omaha, so we sold

    him on the fact that we wanted him to be another Dave

    Hoppen and break all of his records. And his parents

    could see him play, and he could be the next big guy

    coming from Nebraska, so that was a good sale. He was a

    hard one, though, because we beat out Arizona and

    Kansas, but to me, he was a very good player.

    HHC: Speaking

    of recruits, who were some of the guys that you

    especially helped in bringing to Nebraska, and which was

    your biggest?

    LM: Dapreis Owens from Mansfield, Ohio was

    big. Lewis Geter was good, but he left after his

    sophomore year. Rich King, Pete Manning, all those guys.

    Basically, all the good players we brought in I think I

    had a little hand in helping to bring. Carl Hayes was

    another one who was very good and very smooth. 

    HHC: 1987-1988 was a tough year, as you

    guys finished just 13-18. However, 1988-1989 was a solid

    year, and saw a 17-16 record and NIT appearance. What

    memories do you have of the second NIT and that season?

    LM: It was good to see Eric Johnson have a

    great senior year. He played really well, and then

    Clifford Scales and Dapreis played a little and got


    So, I

    definitely remember the younger guys growing. But Eric

    Johnson having a real good senior year is what stood out


    HHC: 1989-1990 was an injury plagued season and

    a 10-18 finish. Did you honestly have any idea of how

    special the following year would be at that time?

    LM: No, I didn’t. I knew we struggled and

    wanted to get better, and so we did, but those guys

    worked really hard in the off-season, and they decided

    that we needed to turn it around and get things done,

    and that’s obviously what we did.

    HHC: The 1990-1991 team is the best team

    in Nebraska history, and finished 26-8 with the schools

    second NCAA Tournament appearance and a #9 ranking to

    end the year. At what point in that season did you know

    it was going to be a magic carpet ride?

    LM: I think we went like 16-1 in the

    beginning of the year. Actually, when we first started,

    we played in Puerto Rico and we beat Saint Louis and

    Illinois by 20, and then lost to Murray State in the

    championship. But we had a lot of guys returning and a

    lot of guys coming in, and it just clicked, and we had

    such a good year.

    HHC: What made that team so successful,

    and were you ever around a better team?

    LM: I’ve been coaching over twenty years,

    and it was the most wins that I’ve ever been around, I

    think. The guys got along real well and we had good

    leadership. We had inside, outside, and it was just a

    special team overall. Guys played well together, and we

    found ways to win.

    HHC: Talk about some of your favorite

    memories of that team?

    LM: Keith Moody hitting the shot against

    Oklahoma in the Big 8 tournament when we were down like

    11 with three minutes to go, and we came back and won

    that. Puerto Rico was very rewarding, and then playing

    in the Big 8 championship game and losing to Missouri,

    but just winning those two games before that were great.

    HHC: How disappointing was it to have

    things end on such a sour note against Xavier in the

    NCAA Tournament?

    LM: It was real disappointing because…

    Well, I don’t want to make any excuses, but we played a

    late game, and it just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.

    But they

    (Xavier) did play well, so we had to tip our hats, but

    that was a disappointing loss, no question about that,

    because I thought we could have gone pretty far in the


    HHC: Your last season at Nebraska was

    1991-1992, and you guys finished 19-10 with another

    appearance in the NCAA Tournament against Connecticut.

    The team lost, and to this day, many feel that it was

    because of a combination of lack of focus and

    concentration. Do you agree with that, or did Nebraska

    simply get beat on those days?

    LM: We just got beat both years, and UConn

    was a better team. Donyell Marshall was there, and they

    had real good players, so it wasn’t like it was a lack

    of concentration. They were a great, talented team.

    HHC: What made you choose to leave

    Nebraska following 1992?

    LM: I was

    there six years, and I liked Lincoln, but it was just

    unfortunately time to leave. A lot of things happened,

    good and bad, but it was just time to break ship, I


    HHC: What are your favorite memories of

    being in Lincoln?

    LM: I was a young man who was twenty-five

    years old when I got there, and being a full-time

    assistant at that age at a place like Nebraska with that

    magnitude was great.

    We had a

    great football program and were working on a great

    basketball program, so it was just a great, great

    experience being at Nebraska, and is something that I’ll

    always cherish. Lincoln was a nice city, and we had

    great fan support. It was a first class institution and

    still is.

    So I

    have a lot of fond memories about the University of

    Nebraska, and that was really my start as a full-time

    assistant, and you can’t beat that.

    HHC: Do you keep in touch with anybody you

    knew from Lincoln and make it back at all?

    LM: I haven’t

    been back. I talk to Ellen (Shutts) the secretary a bit,

    and I have a real good friend Patrick Campbell, who is

    almost a judge there. I talk to Gary Bargen a lot, as he

    and I are still pretty close, and I know they had the

    reunion and you guys helped with that, and it would have

    been nice to come back for that but besides those three,

    not really anyone else.

    HHC: Finally, update us on your life since

    1992, and tell us what you are up to today at UIC?

    LM: I’m an assistant here and have been

    for five years under Jimmy Collins. After Nebraska, I

    was at Washington State for five years under Kelvin

    Sampson. I went to Ball State as an Associate Head Coach

    under Dick Hunsaker, and then Loyola in Chicago for four

    years under Ken Burmeister, and then took a year off

    from coaching before getting back into it at Southern

    Illinois under Bruce Weber for two years.

    And I’ve

    been here at UIC since 2001.

    HHC: Right on. Are you cool with taking

    some e-mails at

    [email protected] if we set you up an

    account and tell you how to check it?

    LM: Oh yeah,

    no question.

    HHC: Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time,

    and anything else you'd like to add?

    LM: I’d just like to say that I really did

    enjoy Nebraska, and at that point in my life, it was

    really good for me. And I have a lot of fond memories

    about Nebraska, and I just wish everyone there well.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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