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    Then & Now: Stu Lantz

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    Then & Now: Stu Lantz

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy Topps Sports Cards)

    Stu%20Lantz.jpgNebraska

    Basketball Hall of Famer Stu Lantz played for the

    Huskers from 1966-1968, and finished his career ranked

    thirteenth on the Nebraska all-time scoring list (1,269

    points.)  Lantz also ranks in the top ten of career

    scoring average, and grabbed 571 rebounds while at NU.

    After the two-time All-Big 8 pick

    graduated, he went on to play eight seasons in the NBA,

    spending time with San Diego/Houston, Detroit, New

    Orleans, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Lantz currently

    serves as television analyst for the Lakers.

    Lantz recently joined HHC as the

    latest Sunday guest of “Then & Now.”

    HHC: Stu, we want to

    start by thanking you for taking the time to join us.

    SL: No problem. When

    the Lakers gave me your contact information today, I was

    excited to check out the site. I haven’t had time to

    check it yet, but after this phone call, I am definitely

    going to be going there.

    HHC: That’s what we like to hear! We want

    to start off by asking what brought you to Lincoln,

    Nebraska clear from Uniontown, Pennsylvania? 

    SL: Well, my best

    friend Ben Gregory and I had gone to the same grade

    school, junior high school, and high school together,

    and he got a scholarship to play football there, and I

    got one to play basketball, so that’s kind of how it

    happened. It was the only school where we both could get

    scholarships in our sport, and we wanted to go pretty

    far from home, since if we didn’t, we knew it’d be a

    temptation to go home on weekends. And if you go home on

    weekends, then you don’t get your studies done.

    But yeah, Ben Gregory was his name…

    He was a fullback, and unfortunately passed away about

    eight years ago. 

    HHC: You played under “Slippery Joe”

    Cipriano in his early years at Nebraska. Since most of

    our fans know very little about him, describe to us what

    kind of coach he was.

    SL: (Laughs) Well, he

    was a character. He was a fun coach to play for because

    he was so “shooting from the hip,” so to speak. You

    never knew what to expect from him.

    The type of teams that we had at

    that time were obviously smaller, and we pressed and ran

    quite a bit. And, Joe’s style was very good for that. He

    was a good coach to play for. I would say overall, his

    players liked him, and I don’t remember any real

    problems with that. Of course, there’s always going to

    be a player or two who feels they should be starting or

    playing more on every team that’s ever existed, but no

    problems to the point where we had a player or coach

    dissension.

    HHC: How did he earn

    the nickname “Slippery Joe?”

    SL: (Laughs) That’s a good a question. I

    don’t really know how he got that nickname, but it was

    one that definitely followed him around. It could have

    had a bad connotation to it, but at the same time, could

    be something comical. I’m not really sure.

    HHC: In your own words, what kind of

    player and teammate was Stu Lantz?

    SL: I was the type of

    player that did whatever it took to help the team at

    6’3”. I was playing out of position just about my entire

    college career. Center my freshman and sophomore years,

    and forward after that. I was the type of player that

    did whatever it took to win. As far as what type of

    teammate I was, you’d have to ask the teammates, but I

    thought I was a good teammate.

    HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was

    1965-1966, and you guys won twenty games, finished the

    year ranked eleventh, and enjoyed the school’s first

    winning season in fifteen years. Talk about how exciting

    that year was, and remind us of some of your teammates?

    SL: Wow, you’re going

    Watergate on me here. (Laughs) Where were you on

    December the 6th, 1910, ya know? (Laughs) I

    remember that we were a team – we really played well

    together. I didn’t see any problems then, and obviously

    we had ourselves a pretty good year. But, it was

    obviously overshadowed by the football program.

    Tom Baack was a teammate that was

    with me for four years, and when we left, we were one

    and two in scoring. Ron Simmons was another; we just had

    lots of guys that just got along really well. Nate

    Branch was also was a teammate at that time, and he

    ended up playing for the Globetrotter’s. A local guy

    from Omaha named Fred Hare was there, and I’m sure

    people still remember him, because he was a legend back

    then.

    HHC: 1966-1967 saw you earn All-Big Eight

    honors, and as a team, Nebraska made the NIT for the

    first time in school history. Talk to us about how much

    of an honor making the NIT was back then, and tell us

    how the post-season was set up?

    SL: It was really an

    honor to get to the post-season, especially when nobody

    really expected much out of the basketball program, I

    don’t think, as football was and probably still is the

    number one sport. Everything else is just something you

    play in between spring and fall football. But it was a

    real pleasure for us to go to New York and play in the

    NIT. What wasn’t a pleasure was losing in the first

    round.

    If memory serves me right, we

    didn’t have the right attitude to really win. I think we

    were a little to “laze” going to the NIT. In other

    words, I don’t think from top to bottom, we were as

    serious about what we were trying to accomplish as we

    should have been.

    HHC: Besides the post-season being set up

    much differently, what else was different about the game

    of basketball back then?

    SL: Aside from the rules you mean?

    (Laughs) Well if memory serves me correctly, back then

    they outlawed the dunk, which was the Lew Alcindor rule.

    So that was different. Obviously, the emphasis on

    television games was not there, and uniforms were way

    different. (Laughs)

    However, the game itself though,

    its pretty much the same then and now. I mean, you can

    change some of the rules, but the fundamental parts of

    basketball will always remain the same.

    HHC: How many more points do you think you

    could have scored with a three-point line?

    SL: Of course I shot from out there, so at

    least a few, but as I mentioned before, my major asset

    was around the basket. So, I would assume that I would

    have scored a couple of more points, but not enough to

    over take the number one rating, as Tom Baack scored

    about all of his from beyond the three-point line.

    HHC: If you were

    being recruited today, would you still be as good as you

    were back then, especially considering the different

    sizes of players?

    SL: I would like to

    think I’d be more effective today because of the old

    adage of “If I knew then what I know now.” But, at the

    same time, the desire and drive would have been the

    same, too. I think maybe what would have been different

    was how I was approached from the coaching aspect. Maybe

    I wouldn’t have been playing out of position, so I’d be

    even better.

    HHC: Your senior

    season was 1967-1968, and you were again an All-Big

    Eight pick, while as a team, you guys won the Big Eight

    Holiday title. Describe to us what this means? Is it

    similar to the Big 12 Tournament?

    SL: That would be the Big 8 Christmas

    tournament. All of the school’s went, and you had a

    tournament there. I don’t know if Nebraska had ever won

    that before, since Kansas had been the power for quite

    some time, so that was a real nice achievement.

    As far as specifics of the

    tournament go, I think if you lost, you went into the

    loser’s side. But again, I can’t remember exactly how it

    worked without going back to the books and checking. It

    was similar to one and done and the Big 12 tournament

    today, though.

    HHC: What are your favorite memories of

    Nebraska, both on and off the court, and how often do

    you get back?

    SL: My favorite memories… Well, I loved

    going there. I went there, and at the time, I was going

    to get an education, unlike a lot of athletes that go to

    college today who are going as a stepping-stone to go

    somewhere else. I had no aspirations of playing

    professional basketball when I enrolled. I was there as

    an Elementary Ed. Major, and I got my degree in it, and

    I was looking forward to doing it.

    One of my fondest memories of

    Lincoln were the people. They were just so nice. Like I

    said, I was used to the city life of Pennsylvania, and

    when I got there, I was totally shocked with how the

    people treated everybody. It was really a very, very

    friendly city. It was so friendly that in fact, I met my

    wife there and we were married in college. That was my

    biggest thrill of going to the University of Nebraska,

    getting to meet my bride.

    Normally, we get back every summer,

    as her father is still in Lincoln, although I missed it

    this past summer. But we normally get back there once a

    year, and normally in the summer.

    HHC: After your senior season in 1968, you

    were a third-round selection in the NBA draft by the

    Rockets. Your NBA career spanned eight seasons, and you

    played for several teams. Tell us about the most

    memorable teams you were a part of?

    SL: I remember all of

    the teams in that regard, but I would assume my rookie

    year was pretty memorable, since like I said, I had no

    aspirations of ever playing professional basketball. So,

    that was a surprise and great, just the people you

    become friends and teammates with.

    Elvin Hayes was the #1 pick, and we

    became teammates and roommates for four years. Then, I

    had the opportunity to go to Detroit and play alongside

    a guy that is one of the best people both on and off the

    court that I’ve ever known, Dave Bing. He is a Hall of

    Fame guard that really is quite an individual. And also

    there was Bob Lanier, who now works in the NBA office as

    something under the commissioner. I tease him all the

    time about his title. (Laughs) And I also played

    alongside “Pistol” Pete Maravich, who I became great

    friends with.

    And when I finally joined the

    Lakers, I came right after Jerry West was there, but

    became friends with him and still am to this day. I also

    got to become friends with Karrem Abdul Jabar, and lots

    of other great players. It was an honor to play against

    the best athletes in the world.

    HHC: Tell us more

    about your job as television analyst for the Lakers. How

    long have you been doing that for?

    SL: My first year was

    1987-1988, so this is my nineteenth year with them as

    the color analyst on TV. It doesn’t seem like that long,

    but it’s something where when you put it on paper,

    that’s what it comes out to.

    It’s been a real thrill, and it

    sure beats working for a living. Anytime you can be

    involved in professional sports, you’ve really got to

    count your blessings, because you can’t really count

    that as a job, because the jobs are guys that work 9-5.

    It’s not athletes who are just doing what they love to

    do.

    Today, as an announcer, I do the

    same thing as you do, as far as sitting and watching the

    game and talking about what happened or what should have

    happened. The difference is that I get paid, and you

    don’t.

    HHC: And how are the

    Lakers looking this year?

    SL: Not real healthy. They came into the

    year as a young team, and then they’ve just absorbed so

    many early injuries. So, they are struggling along right

    now, as they’ve lost 5 of their last 6 games, so we’re

    cruising along with a bad record. It’s still early, but

    when you’re young and hurt, it maybe doesn’t spell the

    recipe for a great year when you get in such a hole

    early, because it’s tough to dig yourself out of it. 

    HHC: Thanks for your time, Stu, and if we

    set you up an e-mail account at

    [email protected] , would you be willing to

    take e-mails from Husker fans?

    SL: Not a problem, and thanks a lot for

    having me Dave.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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