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    Then & Now: Randy Cipriano on

    Then & Now: Randy Cipriano on

    Joe Cipriano

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)


    Cipriano was an Assistant Coach at Nebraska from

    1982-1986, and saw his teams go a combined 91-57 (.615)

    while serving under Coach Moe Iba.


    is the son of the late Joe Cipriano (Head Coach,

    1964-1980), who is second on the all-time victories

    list at Nebraska (253-197, .562).


    is our latest guest in this special two-part/two-week

    edition of "Then & Now."

    HHC: Thanks

    for talking with us about your Dad last week and for

    joining us for a second installment about yourself this

    week. You grew up in Lincoln, and were obviously around

    Nebraska basketball a lot. What are some of your

    favorite memories and teams?

    RC: I really remember the players. I’m still

    really good friends with Mike Naderer and Terry Novak,

    and (Jerry) Fort, like I said.

    As far

    as the fanatic part, as far as do you remember this game

    or that game, or this tournament, not really. I remember

    the relationships and the friendships more than


    HHC: You had

    an outstanding career at Lincoln Southeast High School

    under Coach Wally McNaught before ultimately going to

    Kearney State under Coach Jerry Hueser. What was it like

    being a coach’s son, and did your Dad encourage you to

    play, or was that something you did on your own?

    RC: My Dad’s philosophy was that if you

    want to succeed, whether it is reading, basketball, or

    dancing, whatever you do, do it because you want to do

    it, not because someone else does. I don’t ever remember

    him pushing me to play basketball.

    HHC: Before

    going to Kearney State, was there ever the thought of

    you walking on at Nebraska?

    RC: No. Coming out of high school, I

    wasn’t even near good enough, although by my junior year

    of college, maybe I would have been good enough.

    But I

    played against the players all summer long, and even

    playing at Kearney, there is a big division between the

    athletes, size, quickness, and speed. There were one or

    two kids at Kearney that could have played D-1, and that

    was it, and its still that way today.

    HHC: At Kearney State, you scored 1,039

    points and set Antelope season and career assist marks

    of 150 and 329. You also led the team to the finals of

    the 1978 NAIA Tournament and won the Hustle Award, along

    with garnering All-Tournament honors. What were those

    years like?

    RC: Fantastic.

    I was away from home, out on my own, my own person,

    feeling my own way through life. Had some successes, and

    got away from Lincoln a little bit. It was great, I

    loved it. I played for a coach that gave me freedom to

    grow up and be myself, and he knew we’d compete and

    play, and we won a lot of games.

    So, once

    you get involved in a program, no matter what level, its

    important to you. We should have won the national

    championship my junior year, and I do remember we got a

    bad call at the end of the game against Grand Canyon and

    it cost us the game. The kid traveled and they didn’t

    call it and we should have won. But you learn a lot from

    that, too.

    But as

    far as Coach Hueser goes, I think that he had a lot of

    influence on my life, and even some of his basketball

    philosophies impacted me later.

    HHC: What person prepared you most for


    RC: I had a really unique opportunity to

    pick and choose what I liked since I was around so many

    great coaches, so I don’t think I can be pin holed into

    one. I think Moe Iba was a big defensive side to my

    beliefs, and then there was Norm Stewart, and gosh, lots

    of other guys.


    got to remember that since I was six years old, I was in

    my dad’s office listening to these guys talk basketball.

    HHC: You got your first coaching gig in

    1980-1981 at Ogallala (NE.) High School. Talk about that

    year and what it taught you?

    RC: It’s your first job. I loved Ogallala

    because I like to fish and hunt, so Lake McConaughey was


    At that

    time, Ogallala hadn’t had a lot of success, and I think

    we won 5 or 6 games my only year there, but I was

    playing with only one senior and lots of sophomores and

    juniors. We came back to the university to a team camp

    in the summer and we won the thing, a perfect 14-0, and

    I knew we would have been good my second year. But I

    left in August for Lincoln.

    While at

    Ogallala, I had an opportunity to develop some of my

    strategies for coaching, and it was nice to be my own

    boss for a while.

    HHC: In 1981-1982 you were hired by Moe

    Iba in Lincoln, as you mentioned. How much of a thrill

    was that?

    RC: My

    ambition was to be a college coach at that time, so it

    was more of an expectation of getting where I wanted to

    be than a thrill. Whether it was Nebraska or somewhere

    else, it was great no matter what.

    HHC: 1981-1982 was a good year for you

    guys, as the team went 16-12 (7-7, T-4th) and scored a

    67-51 victory over #1 and 19-0 Missouri. Jack Moore also

    won the Naismith Award, which is given annually to the

    nation's best player under 6'0" tall. What do you recall

    most when you think about that first year?

    RC: Well, I think we were really

    competitive. We had to play that way to be competitive

    because we didn’t have near the talent that other teams


    HHC: What kind

    of player was Jack Moore?

    RC: He was a pretty good player, really

    smart. He could control the game.

    HHC: 1982-1983 saw the team go 22-10 (9-5,

    T-3rd) and make it further in the post-season than any

    team before it, as you guys went to the semifinals in

    the NIT. Dave Hoppen was a freshman that year and was

    named to the All-Big 8 Freshman Team. How exciting was

    that year?

    RC: That was a pretty exciting year

    because our gym was packed; we were getting 14,000 a

    night, and then we played in Lincoln against Iona in the


    We had

    some good players, and that was the year we went to New

    York and there was a lot of following. A lot of fans

    came out to New York, and it was a good year.

    It (the

    NIT) wasn’t where we wanted to be (the NCAA’s), but that

    was a good stepping-stone that said we were making


    HHC: 1983-1984 was another good year with

    the team finishing 18-12 (7-7, 3rd) and getting to the

    second round of the NIT after defeating Creighton.

    Anything stick out about that year?

    RC: Not too much. Creighton was always a

    fun game for us because it was so competitive. And they

    had and still have a good program, and with the

    Interstate Rivalry, I just remember how fun that

    competition was.


    you play a game that has that kind of attention and

    intensity, I think that’s what you play for.

    HHC: 1984-1985 saw the team make the

    second round of the NIT again by going 16-14 (5-9,

    T-5th), but it would be the next year that everyone

    remembers. After that 1985 season, did you have any idea

    of the success the next season would bring?

    RC: Well yeah, I think we were getting

    better every year. We felt like we had a really good

    chance to make the NCAA Tournament, and as things would

    end up, we did.

    HHC: 1985-1986 is one of the more

    memorable years in Husker history for a couple of

    reasons. Before we get to the positives, we have to at

    least ask about the illegal practice that occurred at

    Mabel Lee prior to the start of the season. Do you feel

    that the situation was blown out of proportion by the

    media and that Coach Iba was treated unfairly?

    RC: Yeah, he was. (Laughs) I think they

    should have given him a raise; he’s working overtime

    (Laughs). Seriously though, I don’t think that was

    really a big deal. I think the press blew that up, and I

    think we had someone inside our own trusted group that

    set that up, and it wasn’t a surprise to me.

    HHC: Do you feel like the negative

    sentiment towards Coach Iba brought the team together,

    or did it not really have much of an impact?

    RC: No, I don’t think the media had

    anything to do with success or losses that we had, ever.

    HHC: Now, to

    the season itself. You guys finished 19-11 (8-6, 3rd)

    and made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in

    school history, even despite the injury to Dave Hoppen

    at Colorado on February 1st-

    RC: No. According to the media we finished

    19-11, but Kansas State or one of the teams we got beat

    by played an illegal player, and they had to forfeit

    (Editors Note: It was in fact Kansas State). But check

    into it Dave, but I think really we should have credit

    for 20 wins, but you can find out. That should be


    HHC: We’ll ask

    around. How tough was it overcoming the loss of Dave

    Hoppen that year in the February 1st game at


    RC: Dave was a great player, and our offense was

    set around him, but we had a kid named Chris Logan who

    was a really good player, too. He was 6’5” or 6’6”, and

    he could compete and play, and I’m a firm believer that

    if you have philosophy and a solid structure, one player

    isn’t going to make or break you. You have to go


    Look at

    Creighton this year, they lose their All-American (Nate

    Funk) and everyone is singing the blues and saying they

    can’t compete, and hell, they have a great year.

    So don’t

    me wrong, losing Hoppen was a blow, but as a coach and

    team, you think about it the first night, but the next

    day, you go put your tennis shoes on and play.


    don’t think those kids playing behind Hoppen didn’t want

    a chance to play and prove themselves? Yes, of course

    they did.

    HHC: Is the 1985-1986 team one of the most

    under appreciated teams in Nebraska basketball history?

    RC: Oh, I don’t know what you mean by


    HHC: Well,

    from talking to some of the former players from the team

    like Harvey Marshall and Bill Jackman, and from many of

    the longtime fans, many feel that team doesn’t get the

    kind of respect it deserved.

    RC: Well, you have to remember the media was so

    dead on trying to run Moe off that they probably lost a

    lot of the story. Had they just reported the games and

    how successful they were, it would have been more

    appreciated in Harvey’s mind, and I can 100% see why

    Harvey and others have said that, and I recruited


    HHC: Were you fully aware that Coach Iba

    would step down following the NCAA Tournament (loss to

    Western Kentucky in Charlotte, NC.), or was it a

    surprise to you?

    RC: No, not at all, he told me in December

    we weren’t coming back, that it was over.

    HHC: What kind

    of a man was Moe Iba?

    RC: Great man, absolutely solid as a rock.

    And really underappreciated. He’s still a good friend of


    HHC: Following

    that season and his resignation, you also left the

    Nebraska basketball program. Did you do any coaching

    after that?

    RC: No, 1986 was my last year. I shook my

    head and couldn’t believe they were doing what they were

    doing. I said, “I’m done with it, I’m never letting

    anyone control my life again,” and I went on.

    HHC: What are some of your favorite

    memories during your years as a coach at Nebraska?

    RC: Making the NCAA Tournament. Recruiting

    the kids that had a big impact on that.

    HHC: And favorite players?

    RC: Oh, favorite players, as far as

    talent, I thought we had some great kids. Bernard Day. I

    really thought Dave Hoppen was a good player, Greg

    Downing, Stan Cloudy, David Ponce.

    I mean,

    we had a hand full of good players, but here’s the

    thing. We’re playing with a 5’10” point guard who is

    really a good player. Kansas is playing with a 6’3”

    point guard that is really a good player. We had to go

    down a notch and try to compete, so we had to play


    HHC: Talk about the state of the current

    program. Is Nebraska basketball healthy right now?

    RC: Wow, that’s loaded (Laughs).

    HHC: (Laughs) True, I apologize.

    RC: Geez man. Well, I’m going to answer it two

    ways then. Is it healthy? Well, if you’re going to

    analyze wins and losses, and say that it is the

    barometer for healthy, I don’t think that’s fair. Barry

    Collier is a good basketball coach, very good. But he

    doesn’t have near the players that some of the rest of

    the league has. I think they are getting better, but

    Dave, everyone analyzes the program by NCAA Tournament

    appearances or by how many games you won.


    really, that’s the bottom line thing, and you know what

    the records are, and whom they have played.

    HHC: Fair enough. What is Randy Cipriano

    up to these days, and what has he been doing since 1986?

    RC: When I got out of coaching I started a

    marketing firm, and I work with restaurants and hotels.

    My corporate office is in Lincoln, and my biggest office

    is in Omaha. I own property in the Haymarket that we


    I live

    on a 600-acre farm near Branched Oak Lake and have a

    14-year-old daughter and have been married for 25 years,

    and had 39-40 people on my payroll last week.

    HHC: Sounds like all is well. If we set

    you up an e-mail account at

    [email protected] , would you be willing

    to take some e-mails from our readers?

    RC: Sure, I can do that.

    HHC: Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time,

    and for discussing your Father with us last week. Is

    there anything you'd like to say or add?

    RC: Yes Dave, my Dad thoroughly enjoyed

    his time at the University of Nebraska, don’t get me

    wrong. He had some good friends and it really gave him

    an opportunity to develop himself in many different

    ways, and I still follow the University of Nebraska. I’m

    excited about the football team and like watching them

    on TV. I’ll catch basketball occasionally, and it’s a

    lot of good memories.

    But my

    whole thing is more about relationships and friendships,

    and I remember competing and going to bat, and having to

    work through problems with players, recruits, and

    teammates, and trying to get inside someone’s head to

    make them compete. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship

    part of it.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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