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    Then & Now: Rodney Fields

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    Then & Now: Rodney Fields

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)

    rodneyfieldspage.jpgRodney

    Fields played two seasons at Nebraska, lettering in 2000

    and 2001. Fields, who will always be remembered as an

    aggressive and physical defender, played a key role in

    Nebraska’s backcourt for both Danny Nee and Barry

    Collier, as he was among the leaders in rebounds,

    assists, and steals on the teams in which he played.

    HHC recently flagged down Rodney to

    see what he is up to these days, as well as what he

    remembers about those in Lincoln.

    HHC: Rodney, thanks

    for taking some time to talk Husker Hoops.

    RF: No problem, I’m

    happy to do anything that helps promote the program.

    HHC: As a senior in

    high school at Tampa Bay Tech in 1996-1997, you averaged

    25 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, and

    actually committed to Nebraska, which many people don’t

    know. However, academic issues forced you to attend

    Tyler JUCO in Texas. Before we talk about your times in

    Tyler, tell us what made you commit to Nebraska clear

    from Tampa?

    RF: Basically it was

    Nebraska’s commitment to me. The summer before my junior

    year in high school, Jimmy Williams came down and gave

    me some workout tips, as far as individual things and

    what I could do during the summer. I felt that for him

    to come down and individually work with me was pretty

    darn loyal. It was pretty consistent throughout my

    junior year as well, and we stayed in contact by phone

    within the NCAA rules. Even by mail, and even after I

    signed, he always sent me letters and workout tips. That

    really showed Nebraska’s loyalty to me, and I also liked

    the fact that the university put a lot of emphasis on

    their academic program.

    HHC:  Once you

    arrived at Tyler for the 1997-1998 season, you were part

    of a team that sent five players to the Division One

    ranks, and yourself averaged 14.3 PPG and 7.1 RPG. Talk

    about what you learned while at Tyler, both on the court

    and off the court.  How tough was it not playing

    Division One ball?

    RF: Tyler was

    basically a stepping-stone and foundation for Nebraska.

    It had really good coaches in Fred Ricke, who later went

    to Memphis, and Kyle Keller. Those guys motivated me and

    didn’t swing me one way as far as school was concerned.

    I give a lot of credit to those guys for their help.

    HHC: When you arrived

    in Lincoln, you had surgery for a stress fracture in

    your right leg, which had to be very difficult and very

    painful. Talk about your redshirt season, and the

    obstacles you had to overcome to become healthy again.

    RF: It was pretty

    tough; I’d never been hurt before outside of a sprained

    ankle. When I got the news, it definitely hit home,

    because when you’re not ever hurt, and then all of a

    sudden your hurt, it crushes your confidence. So, I said

    to myself, “What do I do about this? Do I sulk or do I

    just accept that’s what God had in store for me?” I knew

    it was a greater plan and it wasn’t my time yet, so I

    accepted the latter and knew the following year I’d be

    stronger, smarter, and more in shape. So, I used the

    redshirt year to my advantage and watched my teammates

    as they ran through the offenses and defenses. That

    really enabled me to pick up a lot of tips from a lot of

    people.

    HHC:  Your first

    season on the court at Nebraska was 1999-2000, which was

    a tough season for many reasons. While you started 19

    games and it had to be great to finally be on the floor

    at Nebraska, many feel the team greatly underachieved,

    as you finished just 11-18 and 4-12 in the Big 12. Would

    you agree with the previous statement, that you greatly

    underachieved as a team?

    RF: Yes, I’d agree

    with that, because we had the players to do some very

    promising things. We just kind of fell short… The

    chemistry was there, but it was a lot of other factors

    off of the court, I think. Some guys were unfocused;

    some had some family issues, etc. So, there were mild

    distractions that became more of a factor once the

    season got into play.

    HHC:  Many people

    criticize Danny Nee for “giving up” in 1999-2000, as far

    as recruiting players and working with your team. What

    is your response to that statement, and did the team

    become pretty aware that he was on his way out before it

    happened?

    RF: Before I even

    came to Nebraska, I had heard a lot of rumors about

    coach Nee’s job security. But, I had a lot of faith in

    Danny Nee, because we had a great nucleus. We had Cookie

    Belcher, Larry Florence, Lou Truscott, and Cary Cochran

    stroking from deep. But yes, I saw some things before

    the season started and while the season was going, as

    far as a lot of pressure on coach Nee. I mean, put

    yourself in his shoes; he’s been there for fourteen plus

    seasons, and now he’s losing a lot of respect after what

    he did for the program. His back was against the wall,

    and he needed W’s, which wasn’t easy to do because of

    the conference and injury to Cookie.

    I give Danny a lot of credit

    because he withstood a lot of criticism, and I don’t

    think he gave up at all, so I disagree with that

    statement. He gave everything to us, including an

    unlimited supply of energy, and he worked hard and never

    quit watching film. If he was giving up, then what would

    be the use in watching film and putting all the energy

    in? He came everyday and was there early, teaching plays

    and watching film. I think he gave 110% every day and it

    was sad to see him go, since I was coming in and

    recruited by him.

    HHC: Before we move

    onto your last year at Nebraska, we have to ask you

    something that we ask all players who played for Danny

    Nee. Tell us a classic Danny Nee story or two.

    RF: (laughs) I knew

    that was coming… Well, my story kind of involves him and

    me. I had been out partying the night before a practice,

    and I think we had a morning workout and afternoon film

    session. I dosed off for a quick second during the film

    session, and he got in my face and yelled at me, and

    said “If you don’t get your act together, you’re going

    to be a garbage man Fields. You guys all will, you need

    to get your education and listen.” (laughs) There were a

    million stories with coach Nee, you know, the typical

    fast talking New Yorker, but he always stood behind us

    and took care of us.

    HHC: (laughs) Very

    nice. Anyway, your senior season at Nebraska was

    2000-2001, and the team finished 14-16 with a very

    respectable 7-9 mark in the Big 12. Talk to us about

    that team, and what it was like going through the

    coaching change to Barry Collier.

    RF: The team went

    through a tough transition; I mean, we lost a coach who

    everyone was recruited by. Every player definitely lost

    something, whether it was confidence or comfort, not too

    mention the worry of a new coach coming in and bringing

    his own players along. The players that were there for

    three years, and then Collier for one year, we found it

    hard because coach Nee and Collier were totally

    different. Coach Collier was a straight arrow; you knew

    where he was coming from. Then you had coach Nee who was

    a fast talker, you kind of knew where he was coming from

    but you didn’t. He gave it to you straight sometimes and

    sometimes he didn’t.

    So, it was rough transitioning to

    Collier, but we did some promising things, as we had a

    nucleus that was able to play with anyone in the Big 12.

    It was hard though, because Collier came in with his

    system, we had to readjust, and we had new players along

    with some old ones that needed additional assistance

    when it came to running plays. But, we made the most of

    it and did as well as we could have.

    HHC: Talk about Barry

    Collier and what you thought of your season with him. Is

    he the kind of guy you would have signed with if he had

    recruited you?

    RF: Probably so.

    Barry Collier is very similar to Bobby Knight, in my

    opinion, without all of the crazy antics. He put a lot

    of emphasis on discipline, results, and the idea that

    what you put forth is what you get - if you work harder,

    you get more out of it. I learned a lot from Collier the

    hard way, as I tested his system quite a few times. But,

    I got a lot out of Collier, he was a disciplinary and

    wanted a lot for his players. He loves his players and

    is willing to do anything for his players if they stay

    on a straight arrow.

    HHC: And before we

    get to the “now,” tell us your favorite memories of

    Nebraska. Do you still keep up with the program?

    RF: I keep up with

    the program pretty well on the Internet, and better now

    thanks to your site. I also came back for the

    Pittsburgh football game, and typically make it back to

    two or three basketball games a year.

    My favorite memory at Nebraska was

    winning the Puerto Rico tournament my senior year. We

    beat Miami at Miami and they had a couple of players who

    went to the NBA. I think we won all of those games by a

    total of like three points or less. It was special

    because we really came together as a team, and it’s too

    bad we didn’t have that chemistry consistently

    throughout the rest of the season with Barry. We

    definitely encountered a lot of speed bumps during that

    trip and at Nebraska, but we got through it.

    HHC: What about

    today? Where will we find Rodney Fields, and what is he

    up to?

    RF: I’m not active

    with basketball right now, but I do continue to work out

    and keep my body in shape, because that’s been a very

    big part of my life for a long time. I’m working

    clinical social work for a school program called Saint

    Joseph Orphanage in Cincinnati, Ohio. We house orphans

    and wardens of the state based on their situation. We

    provide care services for individuals from six to

    seventeen.

    HHC: Sounds like

    everything is going well. Would you be willing to take

    e-mails from the readers at

    [email protected] if we set you up an

    account and tell you how to check it.

    RF: Most definitely.

    I’d love to talk to the fans and give back to the

    university in any way that I can.

    HHC: Alright Rodney, thanks a lot for

    catching up with us. We will always have mad respect for

    you for playing through the horrible leg injuries you

    had.

    RF: Hey, thanks a lot for having me. We’ll

    catch up over a beer sometime.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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