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    Then & Now: Tom Scantlebury

    Then & Now: Tom Scantlebury

    Compiled By Dave Brandon

    (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)


    Basketball Hall of Famer Tom Scantlebury played for

    Nebraska from 1968-1970, and is 27th on the

    school's all-time scoring list (965 points). An

    excellent free throw shooter out of the guard position,

    Scantlebury led the 1969-1970 Huskers in scoring average

    at 14.5 PPG, and played with Nebraska Basketball Hall of

    Famers Chuck Jura, Marvin Stewart, Stuart Lantz, and Tom

    Baack, as well as under Husker Hall of Famer Joe


    Scantlebury is our latest guest in this Sunday’s edition

    of "Then & Now."

    HHC: Before we

    talk about your career at Nebraska, walk us through your

    background. Where did you play high school ball at, and

    what brought you to Lincoln?

    TS: I grew up in Oakland, California, and I was

    All-City in high school, and All-Bay Area in Northern

    California. And, I was recruited quite a few places, and

    I chose Nebraska because at the time, they were rated 11th

    in the nation, and they were at some point 7th

    when they beat Kansas that season, but then Kansas ended

    up beating them and won the Big 8 that year, which was

    1966, or the year of the Glory Road movie. 

    HHC: Aw, right on. Tell us what the

    perception of Nebraska basketball was like back then to

    a high school kid like you?

    TS: They were out there, and they played

    Cal Berkley two games in a row, and I saw one of the

    games and that’s when they had Stu Lantz, Nate Branch,

    and Willie Campbell. And, I think they split, but they

    played a high jumping, fast breaking game, and that was

    the type of game that was suited for me.

    HHC: Describe "Slippery Joe" Cipriano,

    both as a coach and a person?

    TS: I think as

    a person, he was definitely a character. He was always

    doing the practical jokes. I remember playing the

    Mexican National Team down in Mexico City after my

    freshman year, and him shooting off the halftime gun,

    which was an actual starter’s pistol, and then chasing

    the referees with a towel and swatting at them. (Laughs)

    So just a total character.

    As a

    coach, he was very well organized and had very good

    assistant coaches. He knew how to win, and he knew how

    to get the results that he needed to get. I did feel

    that my senior year especially, we had three people lost

    to academics, but I thought we had a good chance to be

    Top 10 that year otherwise. 

    HHC: What was

    your relationship like with Coach?

    TS: Up and down. When I first got there

    and was a freshman, I was in a Sports Illustrated

    article as the top freshman in the country. And it

    seemed like after that, that he didn’t want me to get a

    big head for a brief time, so he was always trying to

    keep me in check, so to speak. So it was up and down

    until my senior year, and about then, that’s when I

    think his true personality came out.

    I think

    if we were the same age we would have been best buddies.

    I think I matured a lot at the time of my senior year,

    and he had more confidence in me. I really enjoyed that


    HHC: Since most of our readers don't know

    much about you as a player, describe Tom Scantlebury in

    your own words.

    TS: I was 6’3 and a ½, 190 pounds, played guard,

    and occasionally forward. I was a running type of

    player, a good jumper, hanging in the air, that type of

    thing. I liked to drive and shoot from the outside, kind

    of a slasher and outside jump shooter.

    HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was

    1967-1968, and the team finished 15-10 with a 3rd place

    Big 8 finish. You played with some great players that

    year, but before we get to that, tell us what it meant

    to win the Big 8 Holiday Title?

    TS: Back then, and I don’t know when the Big 8

    post-season tournament started, but back then, they had

    a Christmas tournament. So, we’d have our pre-season

    games, and we’d play about 8 or 9, and then we’d play

    the Big 8 tournament, which would be three games. There

    was a game for 5th, 3rd, 1st,



    remember we beat Oklahoma the first game that season,

    and then Oklahoma State when Henry Iba coached, and he

    ran his passing game and there was no shot clock, so

    they took about 2 minutes off of the clock every

    possession, and we beat them in a very close game. And

    we beat Kansas State for the championship.

    It was

    just a wonderful thing. I don’t think we were rated in

    the Top 20, but we got to the point where it said “also

    receiving votes”. And then we started off the Big 8, and

    I know we lost our first two games, which were on the

    road. But then we won our next six in a row and it

    looked like we were heading toward the championship, and

    then we just kind of floundered. We were 8-4 and ended

    up 8-6 after losing our last two games, so we ended up 3rd.

    I wouldn’t say it was a failure of a year, but we could

    have done better.

    HHC: Now, onto

    the great players you played with your first season.

    Stuart Lantz and Tom Baack were both on that team, and

    that marked the first time in NU history that two 1,000

    point scorers were on the team at the same time. What

    was it like playing with them, and what did you learn?

    TS: When I started playing, the freshman

    were ineligible, so I was kind of used to practicing and

    playing against them my freshman year. But being on

    there team was an extreme honor. Both of them were

    averaging 18, 19 points a game. They were very



    Lantz was very athletic, and I know we used to have

    jumping contests, and he could get 11 and a ½, 11 and 10

    inches up there, and he was about my height, about 6’3”.

    Stu was a very good shooter, very athletic, and played

    pro for ten years.


    was one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen, and was out

    of Indiana.

    It had

    its ups and downs playing with them, because I was kind

    of a 3rd option, but I did learn a lot from

    playing with those guys.

    HHC: Who were

    some other players back then that were great in the Big


    TS: Oh, Jojo White played at Kansas, right

    when I started my sophomore year. Colorado had Pat

    Frank, and then you had Don Smith from Iowa State,

    Garfield Heard from Oklahoma, and I also played later on

    against Clifford Ray, who was a star center for Golden

    State. There were a lot of great players.

    On our

    team alone, we had Chuck Jura, who was the best center

    to come out and in my opinion, could have played in the

    NBA for a long time but chose instead to go to Italy.

    HHC: Talk more about having your picture

    in Sports Illustrated with the "outstanding

    freshman playing college basketball", especially since

    you were honored alongside a couple of half-way decent

    players in Calvin Murphy and Pete Maravich. 

    TS: Well, I did have a chance to play in three

    college All-Star Games, averaging 24 points per game in

    those three, and played for the Midwest

    All-Stars at the end of my senior year. I got to play

    against Nate Archibald, Dave Cowens, Rudy Tomjanovich,

    and Pete Maravich was supposed to show up to that

    tournament, but he didn’t, although his father was the

    coach. There were a lot of great players that year.

    HHC: (Laughs)

    Was your hair really as wild and crazy back then as

    everyone says?

    TS: They said that? (Laughs)

    HHC: Someone

    did, I think it was (Chuck) Jura.

    TS: Really?

    Well, I didn’t have a lot of money to get a haircut back

    then (Laughs).


    really, I don’t remember that so much. The 70’s, people

    were wearing their hair longer with sideburns and stuff,

    man, but I never wore and never would wear a pony tail

    or anything like that.

    HHC: (Laughs)

    Hey, we have to ask the tough questions! Speaking of

    which, 1968-1969 saw a disappointing finish of 12-14 for

    your team, although you finished strong in Big 8 play,

    going 5-5 after beginning 0-4. What was the problem that


    TS: First of all, we didn’t have one senior on

    the team. It was kind of chaotic, because we started off

    the non-conference 5-1. We beat Michigan State, and then

    we went off to Phoenix to play in the Sun Devil Classic,

    and we played Cal and Arizona State, but we lost two

    close games there. And then we went to the Big 8

    Tournament and we lost the first game to Kansas, and if

    I remember correctly, Coach Cipriano wanted us to stall

    because Kansas had this 1-3-1 that they called the

    “Jayhawker regular zone defense”, so there was no shot



    Marvin Stewart and I were guards, and we were playing in

    front of 15,000 people, and I think we got the jump

    ball, and I just had the ball under my arm until

    everyone started booing so loud, and I threw it to

    Marvin and we just started to play catch. And the final

    score was super low, and they beat us, and that was the

    worst game I can remember being in, as far as

    embarrassing goes.


    that, we won the next two games in the Big 8 tournament,

    and ended up in 5th place, and then we were

    just inconsistent. We beat Oklahoma, we beat some good

    teams, and then we’d be silly and lose close games. We

    just didn’t have any seniors or leadership.

    HHC: What was it like playing in the

    Coliseum back then?

    TS: Oh, I loved it. Everybody was up close

    and personal. I think it held 8,500 people, and it was

    extremely loud when games were close. It was a good

    floor, and it was a lot of fun.

    HHC: Your last

    season was 1969-1970, and you led the team in scoring at

    14.5 PPG, while the team finished in a 3rd place Big 8

    tie at 16-9. What sticks out about your senior season?

    TS: That was a year that I felt we could

    have been a Top 10 team, as I mentioned earlier. We had

    Marvin Stewart, who was later an All-Big 8 player, and a

    great player. He and Cliff Moller from New York City,

    and Jim Brooks from Akron Ohio, they all got the

    academic bad grades, and were ineligible. And I think if

    we would have had them, we would have won 20 games and

    gone over the top, and maybe won the Big 8 and gone to

    the NCAA’s.

    All in

    all, regardless of that, I still enjoyed that season. I

    was within one vote of making All-Big 8, as I made

    second-team All-Big 8, and made the Midwest All Star Team, like

    I said. Coach and I were getting along well and had

    respect for each other. And I really enjoyed playing

    with guys like Chuck Jura, Marvin Stewart, Cliff Moller,

    Jim Brooks, etc.

    Oh, and

    another player who was great was Leroy Chalk, who played

    in France for a number of years. He and Jura, Stewart, and Sam

    Martin were my best friends, and we all got along great.

    HHC: What do

    you remember most about your times at Nebraska, and when

    was the last time you made it back?

    TS: The last time was Veteran’s Day

    weekend, I went back to see my good friends Chuck Jura

    and Sam Martin. And Janet Jura and Leslie Martin, their

    wives, were also great to see. We flew back and stayed

    with Sam one day and one night, and Chuck the other two.

    And we

    went to a couple exhibition games, and we saw Creighton.

    Then we saw Chuck’s son play at UNK, and he’s a great

    player. Its too bad he didn‘t go to Nebraska, he would

    have really helped them, but I think he’s real happy

    with where he went. He’s a big strong kid, and he’ll

    play somewhere after college.

    Then I

    saw Nebraska play an exhibition game down there against

    Holy Family, and it was not a real pretty game to watch,

    but Nebraska’s doing pretty well lately, except when my

    wife Gayle and I were in Hawaii, and I know Nebraska had

    won their first two and lost to Iowa State. And they

    were playing Kansas in a national television game, and I

    almost said “let’s go to a bar and watch Nebraska play

    Kansas”, and then I thought something might go wrong and

    I didn’t wan to embarrass myself, and that was like a 45

    point game, so I’m glad I chose like I did.

    HHC: (Laughs)

    Did you get a chance to play any professional basketball

    after your career at Nebraska?

    TS: I signed a contact with the Milwaukee

    Bucks and went to veteran’s camp, and they had a 14-man

    roster, which I was on. And then as the exhibition

    season went on, and I got cut after they made a trade

    and brought in Lucious Allen, who played at UCLA with

    Lew Alcindor, and also Bob Boozer from Omaha. And then

    that was it for me.

    I played

    in the CBA for two years, and we won the CBA

    Championship, and I was All-CBA and scored 21 a game.

    And then I went to Australia and finished out the year,

    and then I wanted to get back over here.

    I could

    have stayed there for quite awhile, because I was

    scoring like 30 points a game, but I wanted to get into

    coaching, and I had a family and a daughter. And unless

    you were in the NBA back then, I didn’t see that being

    that financially beneficial, so I thought I’d just get

    on with my life. But I did play three years after


    HHC: And, what have you been up to the

    past thirty years, and where are you at today?

    TS: I coached in Nebraska in a small town

    called Fort Calhoun for four years, and then I took a

    job with Jostens, which is a yearbook/ring company. I

    did that for twenty-five years, and I just kind of

    retired early.

    It took

    three people to take my spot, so I figured I worked

    three times as hard as I should have, so I quit early.

    And then my wife retired, and we did that a couple years

    ago. I won’t tell you our ages now, because my wife’s in

    the room, but she’s younger than me, which she just

    pointed out. (Laughs)

    So I did

    all that, and I have never quit playing basketball.

    Chuck Jura, Sam Martin and I play for this team out

    of Chicago, and we were just up in Edmonton, Canada, and

    we won the world championship for over 50, and before

    that, we were in Australia. I played with these guys in

    Park City and Florida, and Australia, and Sydney again.

    And this guy out of Chicago pays for everything and puts

    us up in Five Star hotels. It’s great because there are

    lots of ex-NBA players that play, and they have World

    Games each year, and you can have a team for each group.

    I have two kids, Jason and Lisa.

    Jason played basketball, and also ran track and cross

    country in high school.  Now he's an administrator

    of a business.  Lisa ran cross country in her high

    school days and now she's an

    elementary school teacher, my wife also used to be a

    teacher, and Lisa is also the mother of a five-year-old


    HHC: Awesome. Hey, thanks a lot for taking

    the time to join us. We've set you up an e-mail account


    [email protected], and hope you will take

    some e-mails from the fans. Are you cool with that?

    TS: Yeah, definitely. It might take me

    awhile because I’ll have to use my daughters computer,

    but most definitely.

    HHC: Not a problem,

    this interview will be up for a long time! Is there

    anything you’d like to add before we let you go?

    TS: Well, we go to

    Europe once a year, my wife and I, and last time we went

    to Paris, we saw Leroy Chalk, and we’ve seen him a

    couple of times over there. He’s doing well, and I know

    he was the leading rebounder in Nebraska history at one

    point, but I know he’s been beaten out since then. But

    you’ve got to remember, we weren’t allowed to play as


    But anyway, thanks a lot for doing this, it’s been nice

    talking with you.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

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