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  1. Then & Now Through The Decades Coaches 05-07-06 Then & Now: Randy Cipriano on Head Coach Joe Cipriano (1964-1980) 10-30-05 Then & Now: Head Coach Moe Iba (1981-1986) 05-14-06 Then & Now: Assistant Coach Randy Cipriano (1982-1986) 04-02-06 Then & Now: Assistant Coach Lynn Mitchem (1987-1992) 11-26-07 Then & Now: Assistant Coach Gary Bargen (1987-1995) 12-04-05 Then & Now: Head Coach Danny Nee (1987-2000) 1940s 11-12-06 Then & Now: Lyle King (1940-1942) 04-30-06 Then & Now: Fred Hecox (1945-1946) 06-11-06 Then & Now: Anton Lawry (1947-1950) 10-16-05 Then & Now: Bus Whitehead (1948-1950) 1950s 06-11-06 Then & Now: Anton Lawry (1947-1950) 10-16-05 Then & Now: Bus Whitehead (1948-1950) 07-02-06 Then & Now: Willard Fagler (1952-1955) 06-25-06 Then & Now: Norman Coufal (1955-1956) 01-08-06 Then & Now: Bob Harry (1958-1960) 1960s 01-08-06 Then & Now: Bob Harry (1958-1960) 01-21-07 Then & Now: Neil Nannen (1962-1964) 08-20-06 Then & Now: Fred Hare (1965-1966) 11-27-05 Then & Now: Stu Lantz (1966-1968) 02-05-06 Then & Now: Tom Scantlebury (1968-1970) 1970s 02-05-06 Then & Now: Tom Scantlebury (1968-1970) 11-13-05 Then & Now: Chuck Jura (1970-1972) 10-02-05 Then & Now: Jerry Fort (1973-1976) 03-26-06 Then & Now: Larry Cox (1974-1976) 01-07-06 Then & Now: Rickey Harris (1974-1977) 10-27-07 Then & Now: Eric Coard (1975-1977) 04-23-06 Then & Now: Gerard Myrthil (1978-1979) 01-22-06 Then & Now: Mike Naderer (1978-1981) 03-19-06 Then & Now: Jerry Shoecraft (1979-1982) 1980s 01-22-06 Then & Now: Mike Naderer (1978-1981) 03-19-06 Then & Now: Jerry Shoecraft (1979-1982) 10-29-06 Then & Now: Claude Renfro (1981-1983) 08-06-06 Then & Now: Trent Scarlett (1982-1983) 09-18-05 Then & Now: Harvey Marshall (1985-1986) 06-18-06 Then & Now: Brian Carr (1984-1987) 07-31-08 Then & Now: Mike Martz (1984-1987) 01-01-06 Then & Now: Bill Jackman (1985-1987) 08-17-08 Then & Now: Bernard Day (1986-1987) 12-25-05 Then & Now: Henry T. Buchanan (1987-1988) 01-29-06 Then & Now: Derrick Vick (1988-1991) 08-28-05 Then & Now: Rich King (1988-1991) 08-21-05 Then & Now: Beau Reid (1988-1991) 02-26-06 Then & Now: Kelly Lively (1988-1991) 12-18-05 Then & Now: Dapreis Owens (1989-1992) 1990s 08-28-05 Then & Now: Rich King (1988-1991) 08-21-05 Then & Now: Beau Reid (1988-1991) 02-26-06 Then & Now: Kelly Lively (1988-1991) 09-04-05 Then & Now: Keith Moody (1990-1991) 05-21-06 Then & Now: Tony Farmer (1991) 04-09-06 Then & Now: Jose Ramos (1991) 12-18-05 Then & Now: Dapreis Owens (1989-1992) 08-14-05 Then & Now: Chris Cresswell (1990-1992) 03-05-06 Then & Now: Carl Hayes (1990-1992) 06-04-06 Then & Now: JF Hoffman (1991-1992) 08-09-05 Then & Now: Derrick Chandler (1992-1993) 08-01-05 Then & Now: Bruce Chubick (1991-1994) 01-15-06 Then & Now: Eric Piatkowski (1991-1994) 10-23-05 Then & Now: Jamar Johnson (1992-1994) 07-16-06 Then & Now: Tom Best (1993-1994) 02-12-06 Then & Now: Jason Glock (1992-1996) 09-11-05 Then & Now: Terrance Badgett (1993-1996) 10-09-05 Then & Now: Erick Strickland (1993-1996) 11-11-07 Then & Now: Tom Wald (1995-1996) 12-03-06 Then & Now: Andy Markowski (1996-1999) 07-23-06 Then & Now: Larry Florence (1997-2000) 11-06-05 Then & Now: Craig Wortmann (1999-2001) 2000s 07-23-06 Then & Now: Larry Florence (1997-2000) 11-06-05 Then & Now: Craig Wortmann (1999-2001) 09-25-05 Then & Now: Rodney Fields (2000-2001) 11-20-05 Then & Now: Andrew Drevo (2001-2004)<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> Click here to view the article
  2. Then & Now: Fred Hecox Compiled By Dave Brandon Fred Hecox played for Nebraska from 1945-1946, and was coached by both the late A.J. Lewandowski (1941-1945, 24-63) and L.F. Klein (1945-1946 season, 7-13). Hecox, a 5’10” point guard from Cozad, is our latest guest in this Sunday's "Then & Now" feature. HHC: Thanks for joining us. Did you ever think you'd get an interview about Nebraska basketball again? FH: I sure didn’t. It’s been awhile, quite awhile. HHC: Well it’s great to talk to you! What was your high school career in Cozad like? FH: Well, we weren’t state champions or anything, but we won about 50%, I suppose, of our games. HHC: How much has basketball changed since back then? FH: One of the big things is of course the three-point shot. And they were very strict on us palming the ball back then, and these guys get away with murder today with that ball and changing directions. They used to call us for palming the ball if you ever rolled your hand over the ball, so that is a big one. And of course the guys are so much better shooters than we were. HHC: What made you choose to play basketball at Nebraska? FH: I was going to dental school there at the time, and I was in the service, but they sent me back to Nebraska to complete my dentistry, and that’s when I went out for basketball. I remember going over and watching them practice, and decided I could make the team, so I went down and talked to the coach (A.J. Lewandowski) and he said, “Where were you when we had tryouts?” And I said, “I was busy in dentistry, and I’ve been watching you practice and I think I can make the team.” So he tried me out, and I ended up playing. HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was 1944-1945, and the team went 2-17 (1-9, 6th), although you did beat Kansas (home, 59-45). What do you remember about that game? FH: Well, I guess it made it a successful season to beat the Jayhawkers. I think they had Charlie Black back then, but I can’t remember, for sure (Editors Note: They did). He was the center for KU, and I think that’s right, but I’m not sure. But Kansas was the best in our conference back then, them and Oklahoma. HHC: 1944-1945 was the last year for Coach A.J. Lewandowski. Did you guys have a good idea that he would be replaced at the end of the season, or did it come as a surprise to you? FH: Gosh, I don’t know what to think about that. I guess we weren’t too surprised. HHC: What was he like as a man? FH: He was a fine fella. I don’t know how good of a coach he was. You hate to knock anybody, but we had cooperation with him. No dissention, and he was a good man. HHC: As a basketball coach, what did he believe in? FH: Well, we had the same stuff as today. We ran a zone and man-to-man on defense. We did a lot of rotations back and forth. HHC: What came of him after he left Nebraska, and when did he ultimately pass? FH: He was a business manager, I think. He became in charge of the tickets at the football stadium. And I don’t know how long he was there, but at least two or three years, I know. I don’t know what happened to him after that. HHC: 1945-1946 was your last year at Nebraska, and the team went 7-13 (3-7, T-4th) under first year coach L.F. Klein. What do you remember most about that last year? FH: I remember mainly after the season. I had to decide if I was there to play basketball or go to dental school. And, I knew I could never make a living playing basketball, so I decided to pursue dentistry, because I was spending so much time on the road and missing so much class that it made it difficult to complete my dentistry. I was in the Navy, assigned to Nebraska, and they would only give me a 48-hour pass. And so sometimes we’d go by train on our road trips, and I’d only be able to go to one game before coming back. HHC: Really? So you’d miss one of the games and come back alone? FH: Yeah. Sometimes we’d go down to Kansas or Oklahoma, and it’d be two games, and I’d only be able to go to one because of my pass. HHC: Wow! I never knew that. Do you remember where L.F. Klein came from, and what his background with basketball was? FH: Gosh, we used to call him “Pop Klein”. I’m not just sure where he was from. Things were pretty tough with the war on, and you just didn’t have coaches like you normally had. And they just kind of filled in for both football and basketball. Sorry I’m not much help for you. HHC: No, you are doing great! FH: One thing I do remember about Klein was that he just kind of filled in. I think football was his main sport, and they needed a basketball coach, so they put him in. He was very well liked. HHC: What was the reason for him only serving as Head Coach for one season? FH: I don’t know for sure. I think he was just more or less filling in for that one year due to the hardships of the war and us needing a coach. HHC: What came of him after he left Nebraska, and when did he ultimately pass? FH: I can’t remember. He was at Kearney for a while, I know. Whether he was at Kearney first or went afterward, I’m not sure, but I believe he was there. I believe Nebraska was the only basketball job he ever had, though. HHC: Besides missing some games on road trips, how did the war affect college basketball for you? FH: Well, of course you would be drafted, and actually I enlisted in the reserves so I could finish out the (second) year. But before I was at Nebraska, I went to Miami (Ohio) for my pre-dental work, and then came back to the university after I got into dental school. That was before basketball. I had a year of pre-dental at Nebraska, and then I went back to Miami (Ohio) for three semesters. So I started playing basketball after my three semesters at Miami (Ohio). HHC: So when you decided to quit basketball, you could have played longer? FH: Yes. Actually, I had 2 or 3 more years of eligibility, because they didn’t count the times you were in the service. But like I said, I knew I couldn’t make a living playing basketball, and so I just had to tell coach I had to quit. So much of the work in dentistry was demonstrations, and it was very difficult to make it up, and then I had to go to class every afternoon. So I’d be trotting up on the floor many times and the coach would say, “Let’s call it a night.” HHC: Which coach did you like playing for more? FH: Klein. I played more under him. I was a reserve the first year. And the middle of the year, I came up to the varsity. And the next year, I played varsity the whole year. So I played more the second year under Klein. HHC: Talk about some of your teammates from back then, and what kind of players they were? FH: Well, there was Joe Brown, James Sandstedt, Donald Barry, Gayle Lebsack, Bob Korte, Chuck Mulvaney, Leo Schneider, and Robert Koenig. We didn’t have a lot of height back then. But down low, Donald Barry was out of Norfolk, and he was the center. Bob Korte also played center, and I think Bob went on to Kearney after he played to the university, and then was a referee in Arizona. James Sandstedt was a forward, and Joe Brown played both forward and guard. Leo Schneider was from Iowa, and went back and played for Iowa State after the war, and he also played center. Chuck Mulvaney played power forward, and he was a Benson Bunny, I can always remember that. He was quite the character, and a very nice guy. Gayle Lebsack was out on the perimeter, and he was a good shooter. I would say the same thing about Robert Koenig, just a good shooter. HHC: Did you stay in touch with any of them after your times at UNL? FH: Well, Joe Brown was in Lexington, and I think he got hit by a train, but I’m not sure. So, I didn’t have too much contact with most of them, because most of them were out of state. HHC: What was the biggest play or shot that you made while at Nebraska? FH: Oh gee. The one I remember most of all, I went in for a lay-up with seconds to play at Missouri during my first year (1944-1945). The game was tied, we were in the second overtime, and I drove in for a bucket, and they knocked me clear off of the floor, and while I was waiting for them to call a foul, they went down and scored a basket and I never got a foul called, so we lost the game (February 17, 1945, Missouri 55-54, 2 OT). HHC: Wow, that sounds like the officiating Nebraska basketball still gets today. FH: (Laughs) Yeah. HHC: What was it like playing in the Coliseum? FH: Well, that’s all we knew, so we didn’t think of it as the barn until it got a few years later, and it just kind of became the barn. It was just open, and big. The fans were great. The home team always had an advantage. HHC: Was basketball as popular as football back then? FH: No, I don’t think we ever were, and I don’t think it ever will be. Of course that was before (Bob) Devaney, so I could sit almost anywhere in the stadium, I can remember that. Football was king, though, and of course not like now, but it was still king. HHC: What are your favorite memories, both on and off the court? FH: I think playing basketball was the big thing. One funny thing is that I can remember some of the guys on the team were older than just freshman, since they had been in the service and were coming back. Some of them smoked, and they used to get me to go talk to the coach and keep him busy so they could get a smoke. And I was supposed to talk to him and keep him busy so he didn’t know about it (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) Did they ever find out? FH: No, he never found out (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) That’s hilarious. What else do you remember? FH: I can remember playing in four overtime games, and we didn’t win one. I don’t like to remember that so well (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs). Finally, what have you been up to the last sixty years, and where will we find you today? FH: I’m in Cozad, Nebraska, and I’m a retired dentist. I enjoy watching my grandsons play ball. One of them plays for Kearney, and I did go to the finals of the Class A Tournament. They had two wins, but in the semifinals lost. But yeah, I practiced in Cozad, except for an interruption in the Navy during the Korean War, when I went in as a dentist, since I was in the reserve and they called me up. And the rest of the time I’ve been in Cozad. HHC: Would you be able to take some e-mails from our readers if we tell you how to check an e-mail account we’ll set up for you? FH: Well, I’m illiterate on the computer. So I wouldn’t be able to, I’m sorry. HHC: Not a problem at all. Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to say or add? FH: Yeah, I remember something else. There was a little guy from Iowa who was an All-American, and I can’t think of his name. But I remember playing against him and I asked coach (L.F. Klein in 1945-1946) if I could just guard him. And at the half, we were tied, and he only had 4 points and I had 5, but the problem was I had 4 fouls (Laughs). So coach took me out, and I didn’t get back in until there was about 10 seconds to play. And I hate to say it, but he called my name, and I acted like I didn’t hear it because I was so disgusted from not playing the whole second half. We had been tied at halftime, and then they blew us out the second half. HHC: (Laughs) Thanks a lot for the chat, this has been fun. FH: Yeah. Thanks for calling. HHC: No problem. Take Care. FH: You too.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  3. Then & Now: Fred Hare Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy Fred Hare) Fred Hare played at Nebraska from 1965-1966 under the late Joe Cipriano (1964-1980, 253-197), and is likely best remembered for his follow-up basket as time expired to beat #1 Michigan in 1965. A 6’2” “jack of all trades” forward from Omaha, Hare led the Huskers in scoring (15.2 PPG) and rebounding (7.4 RPG) in 1965, and later went onto a storied career with several of the Harlem teams (Clowns, Magicians, Aces, and Globetrotters). Hare is our latest guest in this Sunday's version of "Then & Now." HHC: Thanks for joining us. You are a charter member of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame (1994) and helped lead the 1963 Omaha Tech basketball team to the state championship. Basketball historians call that team one of the best of all time; agreed? FH: Absolutely. I think with a team like that, we could have beaten the Boston Celtics. As a matter of fact, that’s what Coach Neal Mosser used to tell us. In practice before a game, he’d say, “You play like you do in practice, you’ll beat the Boston Celtics.” That was a very, very unique team, and while Neal wasn’t the easiest coach to get along with, he was real tough and a great coach. So I told the guys, “If you don’t like Neal, don’t play for him. Because if you don’t like him, we’re not going to win ball games.” And that’s the problem that we had for two years, because I believe that we did win it (state) in 1962 even though it wasn’t given to us against Lincoln Northeast. HHC: Following the 1963 season, you were named the Nebraska High School athlete of the year by several publications. You ultimately chose to play basketball at Nebraska, but who else was recruiting you besides the Huskers? FH: All the teams in the country. There wasn’t a college in the United States I didn’t get an offer from. UCLA, Bradley, Drake, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Baylor, and even the Naval Academy. Just about any college you name was interested. HHC: What made you choose Nebraska? FH: Well, I didn’t have any idea that Joe Cipriano would be the coach when I committed. Actually, I signed because I thought Neal Mosser, my high school coach was going to get the coaching job, but at the last minute after I signed the contract, they decided to bring someone out of Idaho (Cipriano) instead of Mosser, who was one of the winningest coaches in Nebraska History. Another reason I came to Nebraska was that my mother was sick with cancer, diabetes, and arthritis before ultimately passing in 1967, but Nebraska was close to home, but not to close like Creighton. I grew up three blocks from Creighton. I loved the campus, too. Nebraska really has a beautiful campus and atmosphere, and there’s nothing like being in your home state. HHC: In your own words, describe Joe Cipriano, both as a coach and man? FH: Joe Cipriano was a great person and a great friend. He had problems coaching in the sense that he had such a diverse group of guys on the team from Chicago, New York, California, and Norfolk, that I don’t think he had the experience of coaching a lot of different ballplayers or of putting the right combination in. But on a one on one basis, Joe was a great person. I do think he was concerned a little too much of what Tippy Dye and the alumni would think at times, but that wasn’t really Joe’s fault. At the time, Nebraska would only allow two African-Americans out on the court at the same time, and it was either me and Grant Simmons, or me and Nate Branch, or Stu Lantz, and that kind of put a burden on us, because when we’d go to play Kansas or Michigan, they had four or five blacks on the team that were much bigger than us, too. But Joe had a lot of compassion for me, and I really liked him and his family. He was a big help to me when I ultimately went to try out for the Phoenix Suns a few years later. They had asked him why I quit at Nebraska, and he told them it was because of family problems, and ironed out any problems him and I may have had. HHC: Talk about what it was like playing in the Coliseum. Was that a big home court advantage, and how did it compare to other venues in the conference? FH: It was the worst in the conference, to be honest. The arena was cold, and we used to call it “The Barn.” It seemed like during practice it took you forever to get warmed up. It was an old hard floor with a high ceiling, and most other places like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri had beautiful, nice coliseums or gymnasiums. Our uniforms were the worst, too, although we were proud of them. But I loved the “Old Barn”, and it didn’t make a difference where we were playing, although when I was at Nebraska, it didn’t seem like we ever had a home court advantage. Rather, it seemed like the referees were always against us, and it seems like the crowd was. One time I was booed during the Michigan game, but we won it anyway, as you know. I had a tendency to teach the ball players to make your own home court advantage by being in shape, running your plays, and not giving the referees any problems. I never paid attention much to the crowd, but I could never really understand home court advantage. I mean, we certainly didn’t have one against Michigan. HHC: Since you bring up that Michigan game, lets talk about it. Your first year at Nebraska was spent on the freshman team in 1963-1964, and your first year on varsity was 1964-1965, when your team went 10-15 (5-9, T-6th). Perhaps the biggest shot in Nebraska Basketball history was made by you that year, as you hit an over the head and backwards buzzer beating layup to defeat #1 Michigan and Cazzie Russell (74-73). In your own words, describe the last possession of that game and what that was like? FH: That was the most unique game I ever played in, especially in respect to the crowd, which had booed us earlier in the game. And during that whole week, it was in the Lincoln Journal as “the night of the Wolverines.” But that last shot, it wasn’t designated that I shoot it. I told Grant (Simmons) to take the ball out, and I told him that I was, “Going to pretend that the game is over since we only have 2 seconds left, and I’m just going to drop my hands and walk toward the Michigan basket and act like I’m disgusted.” And that’s the only way I knew to shake that guy (Russell), because he was guarding me so tough all night that they couldn’t hardly get the ball to me. So Grant threw the ball to me just a few feet away from the half court line, and I shot it right away with my typical high arch so I could see where it was going to hit and come off. I had a tendency to always follow my shots so I did that, and I noticed all the guys from Nebraska were standing on one side, and all the guys from Michigan on one side, so when I ran from half court, I saw a guy getting ready to rebound and went over him and got it before he caught it. And I didn’t have much time to stuff it and there was a hand in the way, so I just took it while in the air and flipped it over the back. That was so exciting and such a great way to end that game after the press, the fans, and even some of my own teammates and coaches didn’t believe we were going to win. HHC: Was that your favorite game at Nebraska? FH: Yeah, it was, but that’s not the best or favorite game I’ve ever played. I think the best was when I was with the Harlem Clowns in Pomona, California. We were down by 10 points one night with about 5 minutes to go, and I stole the ball 6 times in a row, and it was similar to the Michigan game. All the guys on the team used to call me “the Omaha Kid,” because they didn’t think people from Omaha could play basketball. And then there was the performance in the Phoenix camp, too, where I averaged 25.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG. Those three times between the Phoenix camp, the Pomona game, and the Michigan game were my most exciting. HHC: 1965-1966 was your last full year with the Huskers, and the team finished 20-5 (12-2, 2nd) and ended its fifteen straight seasons of losing. What do you remember about that year? FH: I remember it was a dismal year, because some people within the program didn’t want me to have a knee operation I needed prior to that season because they felt it could keep me out longer. I ended up having it anyway and played with tape from head to toe that whole year like a warrior, and also with cortisone shots before each game in my knee. I gutted it out but it felt like some people were mad at me for having the surgery, which hurt my minutes. HHC: 1966-1967 was your last season on the team, as you left after the second game at Wyoming (102-98 loss). What led to you leaving? FH: It was the culmination of everything, from not being able to play the minutes I had felt I deserved to being taken out of games when I felt I shouldn’t. I really enjoyed the University of Nebraska and I can tell you that I don’t have any bitterness. However, I certainly don’t think I’d do it again, but there was a guy and old teammate of mine from high school named Big Bob Brown who said, “You didn’t make a mistake by going to Nebraska. You just stayed too long.” And Neil Mosser, my old high school coach told me, “It doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you do the best you can.” Nobody considers me a quitter or failure because I opened up the way for a lot of young people, I think, and especially African-Americans in Omaha, from helping them find a place to play and practice such as churches and Creighton to giving them someone to look up to. I had to perform Dave, because I played ball to get my Mother and siblings out of the ghetto, and I did my best and always gave it my all, and I think that’s why people respect me and don’t consider me a quitter. At least that’s what I hope they think. HHC: Have you stayed in touch with any of your former teammates or coaches, and do you still follow the program at all? FH: No. Matter of fact Dave, I didn’t stay in touch with anyone. My Mother passed on in 1967, and after the funeral, I sold all my belongings, took a plane to Mexico City, and enrolled at the University of Americas, which was an American team, but down there, you have 80% natives, and more natives on the court more than Americans. So it would always be 2 Mexicans and 3 Americans. HHC: And where did you go from there? FH: Well, I did that for a year, and then I learned that I couldn’t graduate because I had to come back to the United States to get all my credits to transfer. So after Mexico, I ended up back in the United States, and was eventually cut from the Phoenix Suns because nobody knew who I was. I literally just walked on the court there and wasn’t invited, so they made it a goal to shut me down. But during that training camp, I averaged 25/11 and they recruited guys to come to that camp to stop me, and by playing there, I opened up some doors. After the Phoenix camp, the Lakers heard of me from Neil, my high school coach, who knew somebody out there, and they wanted me to go to Dallas and play in the ABA, but I never went, because I was tired and didn’t feel like it. So, I decided to play with the Harlem Clowns while I thought about what to do with my professional career, and when I got there, Nate Branch, my former Husker teammate and roommate was there. I did that and various other Harlem teams for a while, and then I went up to Canada and played in the Canadian League. My brother got killed shortly after, so I came back to the States for a while longer before going back to Mexico and playing four seasons, and then when I came back, Bob Cousy called me after that last game in Mexico and had arranged it so I was supposed to go to either Dallas and play in the ABA or play with the Globetrotters. But I decided I wanted to wait and try to come back to Omaha or Kansas City, since they would someday soon have a pro team. Turns out I got wiped out in a serious car accident in Denver, Colorado in 1970. I had contusions of the liver, spine problems, and I was all crippled up, to tell you the truth. After the accident, I notified the director of the Kansas City/Omaha Kings what had happened. I was 37 at the time of the accident, and still got an offer for a contract to play for Kansas City, but I was so far behind and so tired that I didn’t do it. HHC: You have a new book out called "The Best of the Best", which is a biography about both basketball and life, and its available through your website at http://www.fredhare.com/. Talk about this book and what motivated you to write it? FH: I’ve always wanted to give back what I know. The secrets, which are really not secrets, but things that never cross your mind, are in there about basketball. For example, I always wondered why such guys as Bob Boozer and all the other guys that came through Omaha Tech never won Neil a championship. I was under the bleachers before I played there at their practice one day watching, and I could see why he didn’t. They were often racially divided and would fight and battle each other in practice. And I thought to myself, “How are you going to beat Benson or North when you are beating yourselves?” I also know that the way I added 6 inches to my vertical every year during high school was by wearing braces that my Mom had made me around my ankles. They were weights and held me down. Or the fact that as a kid, I wore thick rabbit gloves and my Mom would make me shoot around outside in the middle of the winter while my brothers laughed at me. I was horrible at shooting, but over time, when I’d take them off after hours of having them on, I had the keenest sense of touch and I could shoot extremely accurate. It was scary, to be honest. So I started wearing gloves and making everything I did harder so that it’d make it easier later. I also wrote the book because I wanted to give back to society and my fans, and as a tribute to the talent that God gave me. I wanted to give back and tell of all the beautiful experiences and haunting memories from when I played. I’ve been to four or five other countries, and I said, “What am I going to do with this now?” I read a book by Jerry Masters where he said that I wasn’t as good as my one time high school running mate Ronnie Boone. And that didn’t upset me, but it touched me. I called Jerry on the phone right away after that and I said, “You know the score. I thought it was supposed to be a high school book for athletes. Ronnie Boone didn’t break any records in high school, and neither did Bob Gibson.” So I asked him why he put that statement about me in there and he says, “I put that in there because I knew that someday, you’d read it. I had tried to reach you and nobody knew where you were for eight years.” But that call prompted me to realize what I had and to put it into words. In summary, writing that book was for the Lord, and part of a promise to my Mother that I’d finish college, which I did in part through all the writing classes I took to write it. I’d never opened up before, and I wanted to get my legacy on paper before I went to the grave, which is the richest place. I wanted to have these same questions asked that you’ve asked me today. It’s the joy of giving back. HHC: And I see that you are currently represented by Celebrity Direct Entertainment in Port Charlotte, Florida. That brings us to the now of "Then & Now." What is Fred Hare up to these days, and what are his plans for the future? FH: At this time, I spend most of my time in my electric wheelchair, which is fun and like a vehicle (Laughs). My legs have entirely gone, so I’m involved in artwork now. I’ve got a wonderful caregiver named Tonya Ballard, and she takes care of me. I had open-heart surgery about three years ago, I had two heart attacks in Mexico, and two of my sons were born in Mexico, so I was helping them out in the art business when that happened. But anyway, I am for the first time in my life, for the last two years anyway, enjoying peace and quiet, and not worried about any expectations from basketball or my children. I’m living in Denton, Texas now. HHC: If we set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] , would you be willing to take some e-mails from our readers? FH: Yeah definitely, but I’ll have to have my caretaker type for me, but I’d love that. Send me all the Husker fans e-mails, I’d really appreciate it Dave and it’d mean a lot. HHC: Great! Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to add? FH: Yes. There’s not an answer you can’t find in the bible. Everything I did, I did it in the spirit. And basketball wise, I’ve noticed that God didn’t make you left handed or right handed. He made an individual. I mean, what hand does a monkey use? He uses them both equally. I try to teach young people now to start at an early age, using your left hand, because you defend someone that’s even handed. There’s no defense for them. And one other thing I’d like to say is that I do appreciate the opportunity to talk and tell my story of things after so long of the record not being set straight. Thank you Dave for all you do.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  4. Then & Now: Erick Strickland Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Erick Strickland played at Nebraska from 1993-1996, and is sixth in all-time scoring with 1,586 points. In addition to being a prolific scorer, Strickland was also a great defender, as he is second in all time steals at Nebraska (257) and earned All Big 8 defense honors in three consecutive seasons. (1994-1996) Besides being a great basketball player, Strickland also played some minor league baseball with the Florida Marlins organization, and currently will get ready to begin his tenth season in the NBA, having spent time with the Mavericks, Knicks, Grizzlies, Celtics, Pacers, and Bucks. Erick recently joined HHC to talk about his times at Nebraska, and update us on his current situation in the NBA. HHC: First off, we want to start by telling you that you have made the state of Nebraska very proud, and its great to have you join us here on HHC. ES: Hey man, no problem, and thank you. I’m happy to do this. HHC: We've been talking a lot about Nebraska high school basketball on our site in recent weeks, and you obviously had a great career at Bellevue West in that great class of 1992. We know you’re far away from high school basketball now, but do you feel that a lack of Division One players being produced in the state has hurt the Huskers in recent years? ES: Yes, I think that it has hurt a little bit, but I also think that they haven’t attacked the talent pool the way they did when Danny Nee was there. I mean, I know there hasn’t been a huge number of D-1 kids recently, but I think that more so than not, Creighton has been more aggressive at taking the local kids and trying to do something with them. However, recruiting wise at Nebraska, I think they did a good job this year and will continue to do so; I really think that a lot of those guys will pan out. HHC: So will there ever be a class like 1992 again coming out of Nebraska? ES: (Laughs) Aww man, its hard to say. I would like to hope so, but you know, we all just got together that year and said, “Hey, let’s stay home. Let’s build something that nobody else has done.” And I thought that we did a good job of that. So, if you get another talented bunch of guys that know each other and respect each other and want to do that, then its possible. But who knows when that will be. HHC: Yeah, it can be tough to judge when you'll get great classes like those. In your freshman year of 1992-1993, you guys made the school's third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. However, we really want to hear more about your sophomore season. Talk about the magical year of 1993-1994 when you won the Big 8 tournament and made the school's fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. What things do you remember most about that season? ES: Aww man… Well, I just really remember the hunger of everybody that summer. Everybody stayed that summer, got in the gym, played ball all day, and as a result, we really gelled. I think we really took it to heart that we were going to be special and work hard and compete. We just decided to take care of our home, and once we took that stand, it was just like, “Nobody is going to stop us.” I remember at the start of that year, we came out in a tournament and fought off a real good Michigan team with the Fab 5. We actually should have won that game, and several others along the way. But either way, we just made sure that we weren’t going to settle for any short cuts - We were going to play and dominate in areas that we were strong in. HHC: As a team, your junior season was a little bit of a disappointment to many, as you made the NIT and won 18 games, but fell short of the NCAA Tournament. Many outsiders at the time said that this team had a chemistry problem, and perhaps had some clashing egos. What is your response to this? ES: Yeah… I thought that too. I felt that we didn’t reach our potential and it was because we had a lot of inside turmoil. We did a bad and poor job of establishing our roles for our team, and… I guess we just really didn’t come together as a unit that year. Leadership wise, we were young and didn’t really have any great leadership on that team. We had lost a lot of seniors, and guys were trying to establish leadership roles, but we just didn’t establish them very well. HHC: 1995-1996, which was your senior season, is one of the most memorable in Nebraska history for a couple of reasons. Before we get to the positive part, talk to us a little bit about the Danny Nee walkout. What do you remember about it, and in retrospect, do you regret it? ES: No, I don’t regret it. Actually, people don’t really understand what happened with that. We weren’t trying to cause uproar or controversy or anything of that sort. It was actually a day that was going to be an off day anyway, and he had ended up calling a practice. But the players, we wanted to get together and find out what the heck was going on, because we knew we were better than what we were playing. We really aired out a lot of things and found out what people felt, as far as perceptions of the team and coaching staff. And we came to find out that a lot of the problems and controversy that was going on was led by the coaching staff themselves. It was like, players would have concerns, and they would voice them to coach, and then coach would play those concerns off to other players, and basically it started pitting us against each other. The coaching staff would say, “Well, I understand what you’re saying,” and then your teammates would find out that others went into talk about them or the situation… It was really wild. Once we found out all that stuff, we just said, “Screw it man, lets go out here and just finish our season off. We don’t care about coaches and what people are saying, lets just go out here and play man.” I think for me that was one of the lowest points of my life, because I literally almost quit playing basketball. I was just so disappointed with people’s work ethic and how we were just letting everything fall apart. HHC: Not a good situation, huh? ES: Yeah, not at all man. (Laughs) And sorry about going off on a tangent about that. HHC: No, the more, the better. During that same year, you guys overcame all odds and ended up winning the NIT title. Talk to us a little bit about what you remember, and which was more gratifying to you, winning the Big 8 tournament in 1994, or the NIT in 1996? ES: I think both of them were equal. The Big 8 was awesome, because it was a first for the school and just an exciting accomplishment. But the NIT was also great because we came together after having a horrendous season, and we weren’t able to put it all together in the Big 8 tournament that year, but we still didn’t quit. And, we made something out of nothing, and when I say nothing, it was really nothing. We basically came out of nowhere for that NIT. I don’t even know if we should have been in the tournament to begin with, that’s how bad we were. It was really nice to see us come together though at the end of that time, and we just wish we had more time to do it all over again and do something else different, but since we didn’t, that was a nice way to end the season and my career. HHC: Danny Nee was a textbook character, and we ask every player we interview for a classic Danny Nee story. Can you think of a funny story or two to add to our ongoing list? ES: Hmmm… (Laughs) Well, I’d probably say my favorite memory of him was when Eric Piatkowski had a party that we all went to. I think it was after we won the Big 8 tournament, and EVERYBODY was there, including all the coaches and Nee. Well at the party, we started giving out Danny Nee ties, and he was just so happy. He just hung out with us, and we all just had a ball together. (Laughs) Man, those Danny Nee ties on all of us were just so funny. HHC: Roy Williams wore them for years! Talk to us about the Michael Jordan you have in you, as you have played both professional basketball and baseball for the Florida Marlins organization. What does baseball mean to you now, and how much do you miss it? ES: To be honest, it meant a lot to me, actually, because I got to do something that a lot of people at first didn’t think I could do. I mean, after playing one season of it after my senior year of college and making it, and then having a chance to play more, it was just a very good experience. But, about baseball… I think what I take from it is that I look back and see all the players I played with in the minors, and some of them are still in the big leagues. To see them be successful and to know that I played with those guys is a very gratifying thing. There were a bunch of guys, such as Edgar Renteria, who won a championship with the Marlins, and at the time I played with him, he was only 16 or 17, but you could tell he was special. I played with Tony Sanders, who is the guy who played with his arm out of socket when he was playing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dave Berg, I’ve seen him somewhere recently. And I played against Johnny Damon, who was always a hard out. He’d hit the ball to shortstop, and you could barely get him out, not too mention he used to hit so many home runs it wasn’t even funny. Dmitri Young of the Detroit Tigers was another worthy opponent. It was just awesome man, and still is, just seeing those guys go through and make their way. It’s real gratifying for me to follow them. HHC: You've obviously had a very successful NBA career, as you are about to begin your tenth year in the league. Which teams do you have the best memories playing with, and who are your best friends in the league? ES: Dallas and Boston were great years for me, so I guess they stick out. Across the league, I’m real good friends with Paul Pierce, Michael Redd, and T.J. Ford. HHC: What about Pike, Mikki, and Tyronn? ES: Aww yeah man, yeah! Pike and I, we get together and play golf all the time. I talk to Tyronn a little bit too, although he moves around so much that I haven’t seen him as much lately. I saw Mikki when he came down to Dallas to work out, but I probably talk to Pike more than I talk to any of them. And from college, I still talk to Jamar Johnson, Terrance Badgett, a lot of those guys. In the league though, it’s kind of weird, because it’s like a little fraternity. Some of your teammates you’re close to, and some of them you’re not. And, when you leave a team, its tough to stay as close as you were with those guys, since you were with them all the time. But, I still stay in touch with the people who are most important to me. HHC: Finally, talk to us about where Erick Strickland will be playing this season, and how many more years do you hope to keep playing? ES: I’m in Dallas right now in camp, and actually pulling up to the team hotel as we speak. Here are the keys, thanks. HHC: What’s that? ES: (Laughs) Sorry, I just parked my car. But anyway, I don’t know how much longer I’ll play, we’ll see, but maybe three or four years. Time will tell. HHC: Any dreams of coming back to the program at Nebraska someday in any capacity? ES: I mean we’ll see, I’ll have to play it all by ear, because somebody may want to hire me here in the league. If not, my heart is still with Nebraska, and we’ll play that by ear as time comes. HHC: Awesome. We’ll let you go hang with your teammates at your hotel, and thank you for taking the time to join us. Are you cool with taking some e-mails from Husker fans if we set you up an e-mail account through the site at [email protected] ? ES: Yeah, no problem, that’s cool. And thanks for having me and for doing the site!<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  5. Then & Now: Andrew Drevo Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy Columbia Daily Tribune) Andrew Drevo played for Nebraska from 2001-2004, and ended his career fifth on the all-time transfer-scoring list (737 points). Drevo, a Lincoln Christian native who came back home via Morningside College, averaged double digit scoring in both of his seasons at Nebraska, and played a prominent role in Nebraska's 2003-2004 NIT run. Drevo currently plays professional basketball in France, and recently took the time to join HHC for our weekly Sunday feature, "Then & Now." HHC: Andrew, thanks for joining us from across the ocean. How are things going over there? AD: No problem. Thanks for the invite. Things over here are good. My wife and I are living in the Northwest corner of France right along the coast. We are enjoying the scenery, the food, and the people here in France are actually extremely nice. HHC: How much French can you speak and write? AD: Well, not much. The only French I can speak is the basic greetings and a few other words you need to know just to get by. Mostly words for food since you need to know what you are buying when you go to the grocery store. I can't really write any French because some of the phrases I do know are spelled much differently than you would think since they pronounce words so differently in French. HHC: Prove to us that you know a little - say something in French, and then tell us what you said. AD: Ok, let’s see…"Aller grand rouge!"...which means Go Big Red!....I think. HHC: (Laughs) One more privy question before we get to basketball. We know you’re married, but is what they say true about the French girls being blonde, blue eyed, beautiful, and sweet? AD: Not really, Sweden had more of those types of girls than here in France. France is much more multi-cultural that you would think. But I can tell you this...my wife has red hair, green eyes, is very beautiful, and extremely sweet! HHC: (Laughs) That's what we like to hear! All right, back to basketball now. You are a Lincoln kid, as you went to Lincoln Christian and played on some great teams there with players such as Tom Cockle. Growing up, were you a Nebraska basketball fan? AD: Actually, when I was growing up, I didn't really follow Nebraska basketball until I was in high school. And the thought that I would ever play there was the furthest thing from my mind. I was content with going to Morningside College and playing for a good Division Two program and really enjoyed my time there. HHC: Who are your all-time favorite Nebraska basketball players, outside of yourself and your teammates, of course? AD: Well, not many people know this, but my father Dave Drevo played basketball at Nebraska in the early 70's for two years before he had to quit because of knee problems. I believe he played from 1970-1972 for Joe Cipriano. So, I would have to say that he was! Besides my father, I thought it was always fun to watch Tyronn Lue and Eric Piatkowski play. HHC: After graduating from Lincoln Christian, you ended up at Morningside College, where you played two seasons. Did Nebraska, or any other D-1 schools show any interest in you out of high school? AD: Not really. In high school I hurt my back during my junior year after the 4th game and had to miss the rest of the season. I think that kind of set me back as far as Division One schools hearing about me. I had a ton of Division Two offers and an offer to walk on at Pacific where Tom Cockle ended up going. Besides that, the only other Division One interest that I had was Creighton, but they wanted to wait until after my senior year before they would decide whether or not to offer, and I wanted to sign early so I just decided to sign with Morningside where my brother Matthew was currently playing. HHC: Walk us through how you ended up transferring to Nebraska. Did you have any clue that you'd end up playing in Lincoln again? AD: Well it's kind of a long story, but it all started during my second year at Morningside when the school president announced that starting my senior year, the whole athletic program at Morningside was going down to NAIA because of financial reasons. Well, I decided I was going to transfer to another school because I didn't want my last year of college ball to be a step down. When they released my from my scholarship, conference rival South Dakota offered me a scholarship to play for them, and when I told them no thanks, former Husker Andy Markowski, who was an assistant coach at South Dakota, called up the coaches at Nebraska and told them to give me a look. After that I decided I wanted to see if I could make it playing Division One ball and Coach Collier told me that I could walk on the first two seasons and would have a chance to earn a scholarship for my senior season. HHC: Speaking of Collier, describe him in your own words. AD: I think the word that best describes Coach Collier as a man and as a coach is the word "integrity". He does things the right way no matter how much pressure might be on him to compromise doing what is right. I think this is very important because it sets a great example for his players that there is a right way to do things and a wrong way, on and off the court. His example really encourages his players to choose what is right which will stick with them long after basketball is over. I also believe that he is an excellent teacher of the game. I know that just because I played for Coach Collier I have learned more about the game of basketball, which I know has helped me in my professional basketball career and beyond if I ever want to go into coaching. HHC: After redshirting in 2001-2002, you began your playing career at Nebraska in 2002-2003, averaging 13.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG, both bests on the team. These achievements earned you a spot on the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. How were you able to step right in and contribute at such a high level? AD: I think my redshirt season was one of the best things that has happened to me as a player. I was able to concentrate on lifting weights to get stronger, and also was able to take time to learn Coach Collier's system, as well as just adjusting to a new school and new life back in Lincoln. Already having two years of experience in one of the best Division Two conferences in the country was another thing that I think made the transition so successful. HHC: In your senior season of 2002-2003, you finished with 10.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG, while helping to lead the Huskers to the third-round of the NIT Tournament. Talk about the fondest memories from your senior year? AD: There were so many great memories from that season that I will never forget. So man, this is a tough one, but I'm going to say my fondest memory was beating Creighton at the Qwest Center in the NIT. The other memory that I will always have is our trip to play Hawaii when we lost in the NIT. I will say this - if your season and career has to come to an end, it might as well end in Hawaii! We stayed an extra day and just had fun hanging out as a team in such an awesome place! HHC: What was it like going into Creighton's house and knocking them off during that NIT run? AD: Wow, I don't really know how to explain how good that felt! We had so many faithful Husker fans at the game and just to be able to win it for them and to hear so many Husker fans cheering in that place after we won was just awesome. Especially for us seniors it was special, because that could have been our last game. It was just nice to be able to finally beat those guys. And to do it in the Quest Center on there home floor were they are so tough was something I will never forget. HHC: And, what did it mean to you getting to play in your hometown, in front of your family and friends for those two years? AD: Anyone out there that grew up in Nebraska understands that every kid from here dreams of someday being a Husker, and for me to grow up here and to now say that I am a Husker is something that I never thought would happen. It was so nice to be able to have so many friends and family come to all of my games. When I was at Morningside, my parents tried to make it to almost all of our games to see my brother and I play, so it was nice that for my last two seasons, they only had to drive across town and not across the country. HHC: Finally, tell us how last season went for you in Sweden. Did you have a big culture shock? AD: Last season was really great. I couldn't have pictured my first year of professional ball in Europe going any better, as far as my overall experience. I averaged 21 points and 9 rebounds per game and my team won the Swedish Championship. It was a fun team to play on, and all of the guys got along really well. My wife and I also really enjoyed the Swedish way of life. The culture there is not "shockingly" different because everyone there speaks English, and they have American TV and movies so the transition was pretty smooth. The only big difference is how expensive everything is there. You have to pay about 8 dollars to get a Whopper at Burger King. And gas prices were about 5 dollars per gallon. Also we had to pay 35 dollars for a large Pizza Hut pizza. Ouch! HHC: No kidding, that’s our whole diet! (Laughs) Do you run into any former Huskers or Big 12 players in the league you play in? AD: I haven't run into any other former Huskers in France but there are some former Big 12 players and players I played against in college. Kenny Gregory and Nick Bradford from Kansas, and Michael Bauer from Minnesota are in France this year, and last year Ryan Robertson from Kansas and Hollis Price from Oklahoma played in France. And actually, the point guard on my team this year is Turner Battle, who played at Buffalo with current Husker B.J. Walker. Small world. HHC: What led you to France this year from Sweden, and where are you at, so we can all follow you? AD: We are living in Brest, France in the far Northwest corner of the country. We really loved being in Sweden last year but the league here in France is one of the best in Europe, so the chance to play in such a competitive league was probably the biggest factor. You can follow how my team is doing by going to the French league website which is: www.lnb.fr HHC: Andrew, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us. Are you cool with taking e-mails from the fans if we set you up an account at [email protected] and tell you how to check it? AD: That would be great. I would love to answer any questions or just talk Husker Hoops with fellow Husker fans. HHC: Anything else you'd like to add? AD: I'd just like to say thank you to all of the people out there who have supported Husker Hoops throughout the years. It means a lot to the players knowing that all there hard work is being appreciated. And thank you Dave for what you are doing for Husker Hoops with this website. Keep up the good work!<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  6. Then & Now: Derrick Vick Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Derrick Vick played at Nebraska from 1987-1988, and led the Huskers in blocked shots both seasons, along with field goal percentage in 1987 and rebounds in 1988. Vick is also among the Top 60 scorers (703 points) in NU history. The 6’6” forward played a key part in Nebraska’s 1987 3rd place NIT finish, as he was named to the All-NIT team after leading the team in scoring (17.0 PPG) and rebounding (7.6 RPG) in the five game tournament. Vick is our latest guest in this Sunday’s edition of “Then & Now.” HHC: You went to Corliss High School in Chicago, where you were named one of the top 25 players in the Chicago area as a senior in 1984. After that, you started your career at Hutchinson (KS.) Community College, where you became teammates with former Husker guard Henry T. Buchanan and forward Pete Manning, while also playing for former Husker assistant coach Gary Bargen. Before we talk more about the Nebraska connection there, tell us which Division One schools recruited you out of high school, and what made you end up at Hutchinson? DV: Originally, Kansas was recruiting me out of high school, but my grades weren’t up to par. I had Kansas, Illinois State, and I want to say San Diego and Minnesota on my list, but I think that was out of Junior College. But, those were the main two out of high school (Kansas and Illinois State), although I know there were others that I couldn’t name now. Nebraska though did not, at least not out of high school. But I know I took a visit to Kansas, but since my grades weren’t good enough, I had to go to JUCO. HHC: What did you learn from Coach Bargen while at Hutchinson, and how would you describe him as a man and coach? DV: Coach Bargen is a great X’s and O’s coach, and a good motivator. He teaches fundamentals of the game, and he preaches team and defense. I definitely enjoyed the two years we had down there, and he’s a great team coach. He coaches to the talent of his players with the system he used. There are not enough good things to say about him. I never regretted playing for him at all; I just thoroughly enjoyed my time there. His style of play and the way he teaches the game, he’s hard on everyone, but that’s only because he wants the best for everyone. And, he expected you to be a student first and athlete second. HHC: Henry T. Buchanan told us that you and him decided to go D-1 together as a tandem. What made Nebraska your choice? DV: I fell in love with the facility and the academic environment that they had for support. In the Big 8, I was going to a good conference, and it was very competitive. And that led to my decision to come here. I wouldn’t say Henry and I were totally as a package, because I was also thinking about Kansas State, South Carolina, Minnesota, San Diego State, and Houston. But, I never took all the visits. And at the time I visited Nebraska, I just decided to make that commitment. I think I verbally made the commitment there, but didn’t do the papers until I came back. HHC: We understand that Coach Larry Brown at Kansas had a good relationship with you. Any regrets about not ending up in Lawrence? DV: Well, you know, out of high school they recruited me. But he didn’t pursue me after that. I kind of wish I did have the grades at that time to be at KU, because they were a very talented team, and I love the challenge. And it would have been interesting to challenge myself for playing time at a program of that stature at the time. And, they still are, but in terms of the Big 8, they were cream of the crop, because between Kansas and Oklahoma, they were normally sitting at the top every year. So, regretting not having grades, yes I do regret that, I wish I had gotten better grades early on in my high school career because I didn’t start playing basketball until I was a sophomore, at least competitively. I really had no interest in high school basketball at the beginning, but I was convinced by a neighborhood friend of mine, Larry Harris, to go out and try out for the team, because I was better than anybody they had out on the playgrounds, in his opinion. HHC: You were at Nebraska for Danny Nee’s first season in 1986-1987, and you guys finished third in the NIT at New York’s Madison Square Garden after compiling a record of 21-12. Before we talk more about that season, talk about your relationship with Coach Nee, both during your times at Nebraska and after? DV: My relationship with Coach Nee was up and down. You know, the first year was okay. My senior year was not that good. I mean, me and him had battles the entire season, and I really never played up to my full potential my senior year. My junior year, I played exceptionally well. But my relationship with him was still more professional, and afterwards, it really wasn’t much of a relationship, because he never helped us further our careers, whether it be basketball or anything. Year after you were done, you were done, and there wasn’t much help with anything else. HHC: When was the last time you talked to him? DV: Oh, last time I talked to him, was probably a year or two before he left. I never really did come around the program too many times. I mean, I never had any bad or mixed words with him after the fact, but it was more of just a “Hey, how you doing,” type of thing. And that was the extent of it afterwards. It was never “Hey, help me do this, or guide me.” Outside of getting us to get degrees, that was about it. HHC: Can you give us a colorful Danny Nee story or two to add to our ongoing collection? DV: Oh, well how about the time he kicked me out of practice for three days, have you heard about that? (Laughs) HHC: No, but please share! DV: Oh, that was my senior year, and we had a confrontation at the beginning of the year, about me and my position on the team and where I was going to be playing. And he permanently wanted to play me at the 4, and I was not totally agreeing with him. I was like, “Okay, I’ll play a little, but I need to play the wing as well.” I didn’t want my back to the basket the whole time. But that’s how it got started, and he kicked me out. I’m trying to think if that was the actual first day of practice, or the second. HHC: How’d you get back in? DV: Oh, eventually, I think it was Henry T., and he told me that I needed to come back and do what he says, and play the position he said. And that’s what I eventually did, but I think I was gone for a couple of days. And we really didn’t have any communication to iron it out, really, it was just, “Okay, I’m back, I’ll play your style.” He wasn’t happy, so I was never happy that senior year. It’s not that I didn’t want to play power forward, it’s just that I needed to play other positions if I wanted to further my career. HHC: As we mentioned, you guys went deep into the NIT that year, but before we talk about that, we want to hear what you remember about making the buzzer beating, game winning layup that you made against Kansas. The shot was in overtime, and ended a four-year time frame of not defeating the Jayhawks. Walk us through what you remember about that play and game? DV: Oh, that was a very good game. Dude, I definitely remember most of that game. That game, I didn’t score as much if I recall. One, they had Danny Manning guarding me, which is a tough guy to get around and shoot over, since he was so agile at that time. He didn’t have any knee problems back then. But about that play and that game, it was a back and forth and tight game the entire time it was played, and I remember that last play. It was designed to go to Bernard (Day) or a drive by one of the guards or pull up and shoot the ball - it wasn’t designed for me specifically. But I think Henry T. got the ball on the left side of the court and drove to the middle. And Manning was guarding me, and he pulled up to help on Henry, and by doing that, I snuck right behind to the basket and got the pass, which I knew would come. And the rest, as they say, was “history” on that layup. That was one memorable moment, and I don’t have any film of it, although I wish I did. But that was an incredible feeling, because I think Kansas was in the Top 5 at that time when we knocked them off. That was especially nice since I never got recruited to KU after my high school career, even though I was an honorable mention Junior College All-American, so that was sweet to hit that. HHC: And talk about your memories of the NIT and playing in New York City, especially since you were an All-NIT selection and led the team in scoring and rebounding for the tournament? DV: That tournament...that was an incredible feeling to be able to go to New York and play in Madison Square Garden, the Knicks home court. We were very competitive, and only lost the first game by three or four points. It was a competitive game back and forth throughout. Being able to play in front of a crowd of that size, and knowing that you’re on national television, since its only one of the few games remaining. Knowing everyone’s watching, knowing you’re representing your program and being able to get them some exposure, it was a great feeling, and also, so was being able to play well. Being able to play under pressure was great. I’m not afraid of pressure, and that’s one thing that’s always been true. I just wish we could have filled it and won the entire tournament, but the ball didn’t bounce that way. HHC: Talk about some of your teammates from that first year, especially guys like Brian Carr and Bill Jackman? DV: Brian Carr was a great player. He wasn’t a selfish player, and he ran the offense and was a great point guard. He made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. He distributed the ball, and took his shots as well, which he was supposed to since he was a great outside threat. He was a really heady point guard, and I enjoyed playing just that one-year with him. Bill Jackman was a workhorse - he gave it his all in practice and in the games. He may not have been as talented as some of the big men in our league, as just about each school in the Big 8 had someone big who was real good. But, he played up to his capabilities and then some – he always gave 110% on both ends of the court. I enjoyed playing with him as well, and I always thought that Bill, or as we called him, “Bill the Mayor,” could have won it, because he was that popular. He came from Grant, but he was an extremely popular guy who went to Duke and came back. He would have fit well in Duke’s system too, just with the way they utilize the big man, because he could face the basket and pull up for a jump shot, and that’s the kind of big man that Duke likes to have. HHC: 1987-1988 proved to be a tough season, as you and Henry were the only two starters back, and Coach Nee was building for the future. As a team, you guys finished just 13-18, although a highlight of the season was again defeating (eventual National Champion) Kansas on a Beau Reid buzzer-beater. Is that what sticks out about that season most? DV: As far as good memories, yes. There again, that was a heck of a game, and Beau Reid made a great shot, right by our bench. Yeah, that was one of the things that stuck out in what was otherwise an uncomfortable year for me, because I was pretty much disgruntled the whole year. And even though I played, I look back and I don’t think I played to my full potential. I mean I played hard, but I still think that after looking back, had I not had all that animosity and anger about just playing one position, I think I could have given a lot more, which would have resulted in our win/loss record being a lot different than it was. I take the cards that I’m dealt, and I went ahead and played, and at that time, I was thinking why didn’t I just try and go pro after my junior year, because there were a lot of NBA scouts there watching. But I thought what was best for me was coming back to improve myself and skills in playing both slots, and then see if I could get a shot or tryout. But things didn’t work out as best they should have. And also, I had some stuff that I never received from the coach. I hate to bring up negatives, and like to stay positive, but it’s tough sometimes. That was a tough year, and especially going 13-18, nobody wants to go out their senior year with a losing record. Sure, we did have a young team, but we were talented enough to be better than what we were. HHC: How difficult was it to end your college career on a sour note like that, especially after riding the highs of the previous season? DV: It was very difficult, because what we accomplished the first year, all my thoughts were that it was going to be better the next year. And we were 1 or 2 games away from making the NCAA Tournament that first year, and I think it was between it was and K-State, and that’s when we lost to them in the Big 8 tournament. And, they ended up with the selection. But it was very disappointing to see where we were the first year, and come back the second year and have a down year like that, because we expected better things and more things. So that was very disappointing, and like I said, you never like to end your career with a losing record like that. You’d like to be able to end on a positive note and not have a losing season. And you had to think about what your options would be afterwards, and you knew you were on your own and had no help, so I continued to get my education and degree the following year. I wish I would have done some things differently, like come out with a positive attitude and keep things to my own. As I look back, I don’t think I was giving it my all, because I still had that animosity about only playing one position instead of multiple. So, I didn’t let that go that year, and I still had that chip on my shoulder. HHC: Both on and off the court, what do you remember most about UNL? DV: Off the court, the environment, the atmosphere of the student body. I enjoyed my time here. Lincoln is not a huge town, but it’s a nice college town, and you’ve got quite a few things to do. Of course, you can always get into trouble no matter where you are, but with Lincoln, I enjoyed myself and never really got into any kind of trouble. It’s a good college atmosphere. HHC: And finally, what has Derrick Vick been doing since 1988? DV: After college, I got my degree and started working for Commercial Investment Property, which is a local real estate company, and they are still around, the big dogs on the block here in terms of real estate and property management. They own quite a few properties in and around Lincoln. So, I worked for them for 10 or 11 years. And then I started working for State Farm as insurance. (Pauses) What son? (Laughs) HHC: You there? DV: Yeah, (Laughs) my son just said that I had him in that time too. (Laughs) But yeah, then I went to work for State Farm Insurance working catastrophe claims, so anytime you hear catastrophic laden events, that’s where I’m at. I was just in New Orleans and just left last week, and had been there since early September. HHC: What was that like? DV: Worse than you can imagine. You can’t imagine the devastation. Sure, the pictures tell you one thing, but actually being there and being in it and going around and see it - wow. Imagine Omaha and Lincoln combined, devastated. Everything from electricity being taken away, water, housing, you name it, nothing was available. Just imagine what everything would be like coming to a screeching halt. No university, no hospitals, no nothing. And I was down there September 2nd, which was early, right after it first happened, and it was incredible. Just the amount of flood waters with homes being 10 feet under water, and just sitting underwater. The flooding came and never went away, it came and it stayed. HHC: Puts a new perspective on life, I’m sure. DV: For sure. HHC: Hey, would you be cool taking some e-mails from our readers if we set you up an account at [email protected] ? DV: Yeah, for sure. HHC: Awesome. Derrick, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us. Anything you’d like to add or say to the fans of Nebraska? DV: Nope, tell them that I’m still around and enjoying Lincoln. Keep rooting and keep wishing for the best. Our program is still looking to improve, and we’re working on that, so stay supportive.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  7. Then & Now: Derrick Chandler Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Derrick Chandler, a 6’11” center originally from w:st="on">Hyattsville , Maryland, appeared in the NCAA tournament both seasons he played at w:st="on">Nebraska (91-92 & 92-93.) Individually, Chandler holds the career record for blocked shots in a season at w:st="on">Nebraska , as he swatted away ninety-one shots in 1991-1992. Besides this, w:st="on">Chandler also ranks in the top ten in both career-blocked shots and career-rebound average at w:st="on">Nebraska . Derrick recently joined Husker Hoops Central for an exclusive look at his life, both then and now. HHC: First off, thanks a lot for taking the time to update us on your life. DC: Not a problem, I’m happy to do this. HHC: You obviously had a lot of success while at Nebraska, both as a team and as an individual player. Before we get into that, tell us how you ended up at w:st="on">Nebraska , and what sold you on coming to a school that is viewed as a “football school?” DC: At the time, I wanted to be a part of something new, and I felt that the program was up and coming, so I think that’s one of the main reasons I came. The other was the high graduation rate that w:st="on">Nebraska has. HHC: Have you been back to w:st="on">Lincoln since 1993, and what are your favorite memories of the town itself? DC: Last time I was in w:st="on">Lincoln to watch a game was in 1994, and then I came back again in 2000 to visit a couple of friends, Jamar Johnson and Terrance Badgett. As for favorite memories, the town has grown so much since I’ve been there, so I can’t remember specific places, but wow! I just remember you could get ten-cent chicken wings across the railroad tracks over there, you could take $5, and you could go and eat an awful lot. HHC: (laughs) I know where you’re talking about – didn’t that place have cheap tacos too? DC: Yeah, yeah! I can’t remember the name, (laughs.) HHC: We can’t either, but it went out of business a couple of years back. Anyway, you were a force in the paint while in w:st="on">Lincoln , as you are in the top ten in both career blocked shots and rebounding. What kind of mindset did it take to accomplish that success right off the bat at such a high level of competition after coming from Alvin (TX.) JUCO? DC: I think tenacity and just wanting it more than your opponent was the key. That was one of my strengths; I didn’t want to feel that somebody was working harder than me on the court. I think that when you bring an attitude like that, your teammates and the fans feed off that. HHC: A lot of people remember you for your defense, but you were also second on the team as a senior in scoring, at 11.2 PPG. What did you take more pride in, blocking a shot or scoring, and why? DC: If you asked me that now, I would say probably blocking a shot. And, I guess that back then, I would say the same thing, because blocking a shot can totally change the tempo of a game. HHC: You were involved in a lot of big games at Nebraska, but which game sticks out most, and any particular plays that you made personally? DC: The game that sticks out most would have to be against w:st="on">Kansas my junior year. I think Kansas was ranked like #7. We were losing almost the whole game, and then we made a run. We were down two points with like 0.5 seconds on the clock, and Jamar (Johnson) hit that three-pointer in the corner with no seconds on the clock. That was one of the highlights as a team. For me personally, I would say the game against Oklahoma when I had like eighteen points and twenty rebounds, and coach Nee told me “you should have had thirty,” (laughs.) HHC: Speaking of coach Nee, what was it like playing under him, and do you remember any classic Danny Nee moments? DC: Coach was funny; he’s a great guy and great motivator. He let our team achieve great things with not a lot of talent by making us reach from within and overachieve. Its sad he’s not there anymore, but I understand that people move on. One of best stories I can remember was when we were playing w:st="on">Oklahoma , and coach didn’t too much care for Billy Tubbs, and Tubbs didn’t care too much for coach, it was obvious. It was my senior year, and coach Nee said, “We want to score 100 points on Tubbs, we’re not going to let these Sooners beat us. We want to run them out the gym, so all we’re doing today is shooting.” So he took a timeout and said, “What are you doing, we need to shoot more.” You gotta love coach. HHC: Classic. And now about the “now.” Before we get into what you are doing today, how long did your professional basketball career last after you left w:st="on">Nebraska , and where did it take you? DC: I think I had a good run - I left Nebraska and first went to w:st="on">Turkey . The year after that I played in w:st="on">Spain , and the following year was a tryout with the Suns before going to w:st="on">France . In w:st="on">France , I actually played with Tony Farmer and Eric Johnson, which was a lot of fun. Then I played in w:st="on">Italy for two years, before coming back and tearing my Achilles twice while trying to make the Bullets and Mavericks. I had a good run, almost ten years, or eight years total. HHC: And today, what is Derrick Chandler up to, both personally and professionally? DC: Personally, I’m married with two great kids. Professionally, I’m the Assistant Director of the Foundation For Adventist Health Care. I’m not too active anymore playing ball, but I like to go watch. I’m mostly just focusing on my career. HHC: Sounds like everything is going well. Hey, your former teammate Bruce Chubick was on the site last week, and he agreed to take e-mail from the fans. If we create you an e-mail account through our website, would you be willing to take some e-mails at [email protected] ? DC: Yeah, I don’t mind, I love to see and hear from Nebraska fans. Here in the D.C. area, I don’t get to read or bump into them much, so that would be great to hear from some Huskers! HHC: Thanks a lot for taking the time to update us on where “DC” is these days. DC: Not a problem, I think this is great what you are doing for the program, and I know a lot of my old teammates agree with me.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  8. Then & Now: Dapreis Owens Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Dapreis Owens played for Nebraska from 1989-1992, and was part of two NCAA Tournament teams. The 6’8” Owens started games in three different seasons, and as a senior, led the Huskers in field goal percentage (55%). Owens recently joined HHC for our latest Sunday edition of “Then & Now.” HHC: Thanks a lot for taking the time to join us! DO: Yeah man, thanks a lot for calling. I got your message awhile back and am glad you called back, I’ve been looking forward to this! HHC: As have we. First off, what brought you to Nebraska from Mansfield, Ohio, where you averaged 27 PPG and 14 RPG as a senior? DO: Well, I always liked the Big 8 conference, and remember watching Oklahoma in the national championship game. I just had always been a big fan of the Big 8. And then Lynn Mitchem was the assistant coach who recruited me most, although Coach Nee also came up a couple of times. But yeah, I chose Nebraska over Wisconsin, Cleveland State, Minnesota, and I think Tennessee, if I recall correctly. HHC: Tell us your initial impression of Danny Nee, who is one of the most colorful figures in college basketball history. DO: (Laughs) Well, my initial impression was that he was very outspoken, and good with words. He was a motivator, and a problem solver. HHC: As a freshman at Nebraska, you guys finished 17-16, and made the NIT. Individually, you played in 29 games, and came up big in the NIT game versus Ohio State, where you scored 18 points and grabbed 7 boards. What do you remember most about your first season at Nebraska? DO: I remember a lot of great players, like Eric Johnson, Pete Manning, those guys, and watching them, and just trying to fit in with the chemistry of things and what Nee was doing. And as I look back, after my freshman year, I almost wish I had redshirted because of the minutes. My time as a freshman wasn’t enjoyable at times. HHC: Was it tough being so far from home, and which teammates did you immediately bond with? DO: Yeah, it was tough. I was a homebody and missed it, and still live here now. But, I bonded with my roommate, who was Lewis Geter, and we had known each other previously. And Clifford Scales and I had a close relationship, Carl Hayes of course, Ray Richardson, pretty much all of those guys. Unfortunately I don’t really talk to them anymore, at least not on a regular basis, although Lewis and I communicate maybe twice a month, he’s in Virginia now. HHC: Your sophomore season in 1989-1990 was good for you individually, as you averaged 8.4 PPG and 4.4 RPG while scoring in double figures 11 times. However, as a team, you guys finished a dismal 10-18. How disappointing was that season? DO: We had a horrible season, and it was really frustrating. But, the talent was there, we just couldn’t put it together. It was frustrating my sophomore season. Just losing repeatedly was just tough, game after game after game, and losing convincingly to other Big 8 teams, and looking like we couldn’t even compete. That carried over to practices, off the court, etc. That was tough. HHC: Did Coach Nee make life a living hell? DO: Yeah, pretty much. (Laughs) It was a tough year for the players, coaching staff, and basketball program as a whole. We didn’t do a good job of filling the stands at home, so you know we also didn’t on the road. HHC: Before we talk about the magical year of 1990-1991, we need you to be honest. Prior to the start of the season, did you have any idea that you guys would be as good as you were? DO: Like I said, we knew we had the talent, but it was a chemistry thing my sophomore year. We couldn’t get the chemistry going, and the same nucleus of guys my sophomore year made it happen in that 90-91 season with a few additions, like Moody, Farmer, and people like that. But it was a chemistry thing, and once we bonded, it was hard to stop. HHC: 1990-1991 saw you guys make the school’s second NCAA tournament appearance, as you went 26-8 and finished the year in the top ten of some polls. Talk about that amazing year and what sticks out? DO: Yeah, it was an amazing year. It was like we turned the whole program around overnight. I remember putting in the hard work before the season started, and seeing the team psychologist, all the stuff we did in the preseason to prepare. Then, we had the fluctuation of starting positions and rotations, and trying to find the right combinations. I sprained my ankle that year, and I missed like 6 games. But, it was a magic carpet ride once we got to Kansas City. HHC: What made you guys need to see a team psychologist prior to the season? DO: We needed a team psychologist for team relations. It was another way to try and find chemistry, and I think Jack Stark was his name, and he did a good job, as far as getting guys to open up. HHC: Jamar Johnson said that he thinks the success of that team can be traced to the fact that you guys had lost so bad the year before, and were just sick and tired of losing. Is there truth to that? DO: Most definitely, most definitely. We were sick and tired of losing, and I got tired of hearing the basketball jokes, and the basketball program being so weak. So yeah, we hated losing and simply worked harder. HHC: Your senior season at Nebraska was 1991-1992, and as a team, you again made the NCAA Tournament, as you finished 19-10. How gratifying was it to end your career on a high note? DO: It was extremely gratifying. I was able to get there back to back years, and my senior year was probably my best, as far as playing wise. And it was just so much fun, it was like it was supposed to be. I have no regrets as far as playing basketball at the University of Nebraska goes, especially my senior year. HHC: What are your favorite memories of Nebraska, both on and off the court? DO: On the court, I think it would have to be… Well, being the Ameritas Classic MVP. That was a fun weekend. And off the court, it’s probably just the friends I made out there. I still keep in contact with a few people out there, and the campus experience was a lot of fun for me for my four years. HHC: A lot of people say that those early 90’s teams choked come NCAA Tournament team, and were selfish. What is your response to that? DO: I really believe we should have beaten Xavier the first year. The second year was Connecticut, and I think they were much more talented than we were. So, we were outmatched with them. But the first year, we could have done a few things that could have gotten us a “W.” I think it came down to some X’s and O’s types of things, at least to me. A lack of certain calls and certain combinations and rotations were the main reason that I think we lost like that. HHC: When was the last time you were back in Lincoln, and do you get a chance to follow the current team much? DO: I was in Lincoln about two or three years ago. I played with Henry T. “The Legend” Buchanan at a tournament in Hastings, and I try to follow the program as much as I can, I’m a Cornhusker. As a matter of fact, I’ve got a big huge, huge wager with a friend here on that Michigan/Nebraska Alamo Bowl game, so we’ll see what happens. HHC: And before we get to what you’re doing today, can you give us a funny Danny Nee story or two to add to our growing collection? DO: The thing that we used to laugh with him about is that he would always tell you almost exactly what you wanted to hear. If you had NBA dreams, he would give you a person in the NBA and compare you to them. For me, he used to tell me, “Hey Dapreis, you’re just like Mark Aguire. You’ve got that body, and you can get to the NBA.” And after awhile, he just stopped saying it (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) At least he didn’t tell you that you reminded him of Kurt Rambis! Hey, what has Dapreis Owens been doing since 1992, and what is he up to today? DO: Well, after I left Nebraska, I had a pretty good career in Europe and South America. Most of my career was in South America, where I played from 1994-2000. But, I played in places like Paris, Venezuela, Australia for a year, Uruguay, Argentina, so I was really a world traveler. I was enjoying it and ended up having a stress fracture, didn’t know it, came back to Lincoln to get it looked at, and they fixed it for me. And I played one more spot, Chile, and it was bothering me so much that I stopped, and my plan was to rehabilitate it some more and then keep playing. In the meantime, they gave me a teaching job to teach special education here in Mansfield, so I’ve been teaching special education for the last seven years. For awhile, I also coached basketball at the high school level, and now at a local college called OSU-Mansfield, where I run the women’s programs. We are the Mansfield Lady Mavericks. HHC: Nice. Dapreis, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us. We’ve set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] , and are hoping you’ll take some e-mails from Husker fans. Are you cool with that? DO: Most definitely, that’d be great. And thanks a lot for having me, this was fun. I’ll have to get some contact information for some of my old teammates from you.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  9. Then & Now: Danny Nee Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy Grand Island Independent) Danny Nee is the winningest coach in Nebraska history, and was at the helm of the Huskers from 1986-2000. Nee, who posted a career record of 254-190, made the post-season eleven out of his fourteen seasons at Nebraska, including five NCAA tournament appearances. In addition to Nee’s collective team success, several individual Huskers developed into NBA players under his watch, such as Eric Piatkowski, Rich King, Tyronn Lue, Erick Strickland, Tony Farmer, and Mikki Moore. Nee is currently the head coach at Duquesne, and recently sat down with HHC for our latest Sunday version of “Then & Now.” HHC: Danny, we want to start by telling you it’s an honor to have you join us, and thank you for your time. DN: Not a problem, your website sounds great. I look forward to checking it out. HHC: Awesome, you’ll find lots of Danny Nee stories! Hey, before we get into your basketball career, talk to us about what it was like serving two years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and more in particular, Vietnam. DN: That was just part of my life, and at that point, I just thought it was the right thing to do. So, I volunteered, because like a lot of guys who are going to Iraq now or after 9/11, at that point of my life I thought it was the right thing to do. HHC: You were awarded the Combat Air Insignia Medal for your service in Vietnam, and have always been known as a tough and fierce competitor. How much of your mantra and personality stems from your times in the service? DN: Nah, that wasn’t a big deal, trust me, it was just a little award. As far as my personality and mantra, I do think that it has had an effect, but as far as how or when, I don’t know. I will tell you that Vietnam, just like Iraq, was a tough place to be. HHC: I’m sure. Now, onto basketball. You grew up in Brooklyn, and were a high-school teammate of Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) at Power Memorial High School. What was it like playing with him? DN: It was fun, because we won a lot of games, and it was just a very exciting and enjoyable time of my life. We had a great coach, his name was Jack Donohue, who ended up being an Olympic coach, and to put it in perspective, everyone who played on that team got a division one scholarship. So, Jack was a great coach, and taught us all a lot. As far as Lew goes, he was a great player, although nobody knew at that time that he’d end up being one of the top five players who ever played the game. And, in my opinion, he is just that, along with Bird, Magic, Jordan, and guys like that. But all the kids on that team were just such great players, and it was a pleasant experience. HHC: After your successful high school career, you were a member of Al McGuire’s first ever-recruiting class at Marquette. How did you end up there? DN: Well, Al really recruited my parents, to be honest with you, because I didn’t know anything about Marquette. I went there on a visit, and my parents thought it was great, so yeah, it was just all Al. Playing for Al at Marquette was very fun, and Hank Raymond coached the freshman team. He was a nice man, and went on after Al to succeed him and coach there. But Al McGuire, I learned so much from him, he is just unbelievable and so unique. HHC: Besides playing under Al McGuire, your first major coaching job was as the top assistant to Digger Phelps at Notre Dame, where you coached for four years and helped lead the Irish to the 1978 Final Four. What was it like working with Digger, and what did he teach you about coaching? DN: I’ll tell you what, it was a big break to get that job, because the NCAA had just expanded from two assistant coaches to three. At that time, it was a “part-time” job, but it really wasn’t. It was a full-time job. I could give you volumes on Notre Dame, as far as what it stands for. It was just great. We had very good players and a very good team, and Digger was just a very innovative coach who did an unbelievable job there. We went to Four NCAA regionals, in addition to the 1978 Final 4 that you mentioned, and the experience was just very nice. HHC: After your four seasons at Notre Dame, you then went on to coach at Ohio U., where you lead the Bobcats to the post season in four out of your six seasons, including two NCAA’s and a Sweet 16 appearance. What was Athens like? DN: That was my first head-coaching job in college, and I really enjoyed it. I really liked living in Athens. The Bobcats were kind of special, and a lot of that success had to do with some of my great assistants. I had Billy Hahn and Fran Fraschilla, and both of them turned out to be great head coaches. So yeah, Ohio U was a good time. HHC: You came to Nebraska prior to the 1986-1987 season after turning down several other high-profile jobs. At the time, many people thought you were crazy for coming to a “football school,” but you publicly stated that if you could win at Notre Dame, you could at Nebraska. Describe to us how difficult it is to win at a “football school.” Is the label overrated, or accurate? DN: I agree with your statement and understand it, but I never looked at it that way. The first reason was because of Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. They were both so special to work for and with. I never felt it was a football school because they were always trying to help me and help the basketball program try to get on its feet. I thought it was a tremendous advantage to have a great football team because of all the accolades and accomplishments that the football team had; it just overflowed to all the sports. We had a great strength and conditioning program with Boyd Eppley, and a great training table. Whatever it was, we were always on the cutting edge of equipment because of football. So, I just never thought that was an excuse, because there’s no law against having both a great football and basketball program. I always had a pro football attitude, and I really thought the football teams were magnificent. I really enjoyed going to them and seeing them, because I’d never been part of that before, and I thought that Lincoln Nebraska and the state’s commitment was something else. Football complimented us as we were trying to build a basketball program. And the other positive was that anywhere I went, and I said Nebraska, it was instant recognition, which was very positive. So we always sold that we have great football, but also basketball. We would tell recruits we were in a great conference and committed to winning in both football and basketball. HHC: Talk about your first few seasons at Nebraska, and how difficult it was to transition from Moe Iba’s players to your own? DN: It wasn’t difficult at all. We had Brian Carr, Bill Jackman, Mike Martz, Bernard Day; they were all great, man. They were super to deal with, and we had a very successful year right away because of those guys. Coach Iba was such a great teacher of the man-to-man defense, and that first team was so fundamentally sound. To be honest, that first year might have been the easiest coaching job I’ve ever had, because when I unleashed them and put in a fast break, and told them to run and shoot, to go along with the quality Iba defense, we were pretty potent. Those kids were such great people and easy to coach, and it was so fun coaching them. It was unbelievable. I can still remember Marquette, Arkansas, and Washington coming into the Devaney Center to play in the NIT that first year, and we beat them all in really good games. It was really exciting. HHC: The 1990-1991 team is probably the best in school history, as they won 26 games and finished the year in the top ten of some polls. What do you remember most about that season, and be honest, did you have any clue they would be that good, especially coming off of a 10-18 season? DN: We were paying our dues up to that point, and there were so many great players on that team that were just developing. I mean, you had Rich King, Beau, Scales, Bruce, all those guys. The core had been either redshirted or in the program for a while. And then you had the addition of Tony Farmer, Jose Ramos, Keith Moody, and then we also had young players like Piatkowski, Carl Hayes, Dapreis Owens… Go back and see, three or four of them are 1,000 point scorers. All of those guys had very strong careers, and they were all uniquely different. It came together and popped that year, and we were building that for three or four years prior to going there. So, we played with Iba’s players the first few years, and then we started recruiting our own. It was just a very experienced and mature team that just came together. Those guys were all great players. HHC: Talk about the four-year run of NCAA Tournaments you enjoyed from 1991-1994. What sticks out most about those teams? DN: Winning. (Laughs) We won. You can go over the list of who we beat, and the great accomplishments, such as winning the Big 8 Tournament, when we beat Coach Sutton and Big Country in the finals. We had an unbelievable night with Oklahoma in the first round, and Missouri in-between. But yeah, we broke streaks and won at places we never won before. Big 8 basketball then was amazing. It was pretty damn good basketball. HHC: Many critics say that your teams “choked” or “underestimated” your first-round opponents in a couple of those NCAA Tournaments. What is your response to this? DN: I have no answer to that, its almost stupid. I think the thing is, you learn about winning, and you learn how to win. Once you learn how to win, you build a winner, and we just didn’t get comfortable in those games. I really think the first time that we went it had nothing to do with overconfidence. We had a couple of minor problems we had to deal with it. Plus, it was a new experience. I would agree with critics who say we should have beaten Xavier, Arkansas, Connecticut, etc. But, the timing and things weren’t totally right. I feel those teams in the years of 1991-1994 were just another step in the program that we were getting closer to. Before I got there they didn’t go to the NCAA’s, and since I’ve left they haven’t. We were getting very close to taking that next step, and its something that’s very difficult to do. HHC: Talk about how gratifying it was for you to win the NIT Championship in 1995-1996 after all of the controversy surrounding that year? DN: It was great, and I was happy for the players and coaches. I was also happy for Nebraska, because it was another milestone. A national championship had never been won on any level at Nebraska basketball, but we did it. And then, right after we won it, people came at us and criticized us. And I didn’t get it. All we were trying to do was win and try to make it the best program we could make it. Nebraska is what it is - I can’t change that. We were in there competing and getting good players, and they were graduating. And, obviously we were recruiting well because the players we had went onto the NBA. Yet, my critics liked to rail on me, and its stupid. They did the same thing with Frank, too. There was always something we didn’t do, so that’s just how it is. HHC: Tell us some of your all-time favorite players at Nebraska, as far as kids who really grew and became men under your watch. DN: Well, on your site alone are three of them, in Beau Reid, Bruce, and Cary. I remember bringing them all in. Rich King is up there. But just any of those guys, it was easy, because they were all self-made players. They came in with talent and worked their butts off, and became very good college players. I know Bruce played some ball overseas, and I think that Beau could have easily played pro, too, had he wanted to. HHC: Who were some of your more successful projects? DN: Again, Rich King goes from a kid in Omaha, who I don’t even think was starting all the games his senior year, to a first round NBA draft pick. He grew into a great player. Mikki Moore had two division one scholarship offers, and Jimmy Williams went down there and found him. My only regret with him is that we didn’t redshirt him his freshman year. And of course, you can’t forget Venson Hamilton, Clifford Scales, Dapreis Owens, Eric Piatkowski. God, we haven’t even mentioned Erick Strickland. HHC: Yeah, he was featured on our Then & Now segment awhile back. Even Kimani Ffriend is bouncing around the NBA now! DN: Yeah, that’s right; Kimani would be another player in that successful project mold. HHC: Absolutely. Hey, before we let you go, talk to us about your current situation at Duquesne, and how is your team looking this year? DN: We’re very optimistic about this year, and to be honest with you, I think we are real close. With my experiences of Ohio and Nebraska, Duquesne is very similar in many ways. They had a rich tradition before, and now we’re rebuilding. It actually reminds me a lot of Creighton. A small, catholic university of 10,000, that just hasn’t won in awhile, and we’re looking forward to turning it around. I will be honest and tell you that we are very close. HHC: And, are you still sporting the cool ties? DN: (Laughs) I’ll tell you what, ask my wife that question, because she’s in charge of that. If she gives me clearance, then I’ll wear it. (Laughs) And, a guy named Gary Novatney back there in Lincoln deserves a lot of credit. I’m not sure if you know who he is, but he owns Gary Michaels. But yeah, Janet used to scream at me and pick out the ties. She just hunted them down, especially when we were on big time TV. I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t easy, but she’d always make me look good. It was a really fun time. HHC: Danny, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with us. DN: It’s not a problem at all. I’m actually excited to give my son Kevin this website, because he was born in Nebraska and loves Nebraska basketball. I love Nebraska too, and I’m glad to do this. My only regret is that I haven’t stayed in better touch with some of the former players at Nebraska, as far as wives and kids, and how they are all doing. But again, thanks for doing this.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  10. Then & Now: Tom Best Compiled By Dave Brandon Tom Best played for Nebraska from 1993-1994 and in the NCAA Tournament both years he played in Lincoln. Best, a 6'9" forward from South Holland, Illinois, came to the Huskers following two seasons at Toledo, and was a key reserve during his times at Nebraska, especially because of his ability to play on both the inside and perimeter. Best is our latest guest in this Sunday's version of "Then & Now". HHC: Welcome aboard. You went to Thornwood High School (Illinois), where you averaged 20.5 PPG and 10.0 RPG as a senior while being named fourth-team All-State. You ultimately chose to attend Toledo, but who else recruited you out of high school? TB: Just about all the Illinois schools, and Purdue actually, when Bruce Weber was there, but they ended up taking a guard. So, I was at a crossroads with what to do since it was late in the signing period, and I ended up going to Toledo. But, I think if Purdue would have taken me, I probably would have gone there. HHC: You ended up playing two seasons at Toledo and your second was the best, as you led the Mid-American Conference in rebounding (8.9 RPG) while averaging 13.3 PPG on a team that went 17-16. What made you decide to leave Toledo and come to Nebraska? TB: Well, we had played Nebraska in 1990-1991, and that’s when they were 26-8. They had a great team and we went out to Lincoln and got spanked, and I had a little idea of what Nebraska was like. But the reason I really left Toledo was because the whole coaching staff got fired and let go of. Head coach and all the way down, too. And I had a pretty decent year, so I thought I could move up into the Big 8. So yeah, we had gone out there and played them, and after the season, Danny Nee was in contact, and the rest is history, I guess. HHC: Speaking of Nee, talk about your relationship with him, both at the beginning and end? TB: (Laughs) Oh geez... Well, my relationship with Coach Nee, we’ll just say it was some good, some bad. I think he’s a good recruiter and a good motivator. Some of his tactics are to be desired for, I think, but everyone is different. And that’s about it; I really don’t want to get into anything else. HHC: Fair enough. TB: I will say that we had an up and down relationship, lets put it that way, but I know he had a tough job, and hey, whatever, its water on the bridge now, know what I mean Dave? HHC: Most definitely. Talk about your first year on campus in Lincoln, which was 1991-1992, and your redshirt year. You had back surgery following that year in March of 1992. What was that season like? TB: It was tough. You practice the whole year and I knew something wasn’t right in my back the whole time, but I just did it anyway. And one day, I got up to brush my teeth of all things, and that’s when my back went out. So I had the surgery, sat out the whole summer, and came into my junior year behind everyone else already. I would never use the back as a crutch, but I never was the same player. I always struggled the last two years with it, and just got through it. HHC: 1992-1993 was the first you played at Nebraska, and you appeared in 28 games while averaging 4.7 PPG and 4.8 RPG off the bench. As a team, you guys went 20-11 and made the NCAA Tournament before losing to New Mexico State. What sticks out about that year? TB: I think I was disappointed with the way I played, but was real happy for the team and it was real neat going to the NCAA Tournament; I don’t think I would have had that chance at Toledo. But yeah, it was a good team and we knew we had a lot of great players coming back the next year, and other than my personal performance, I think we had a pretty solid group of guys on that team. HHC: 1993-1994 saw you guys go 20-10 and win the Big 8 Tournament before losing to Pennsylvania in the NCAA Tournament. Before we talk about the NCAA Tournament, tell us what you remember about the Big 8 Tournament run? TB: I remember Eric Piatkowski going for 42, I remember that. And that of all things is what sticks out in my head most. He was stepping over half court and putting it up. And Eric never saw a shot he didn’t like, which I loved, but he was unbelievably hot. It was fun to see that. And we had a fun run coming into the Big 8 as well. I know we went down to Missouri later in the season, and there were a couple of questionable calls and we ended up losing, but we were pretty hot going into the tournament and thought we could win it. Each game was great; we played Oklahoma, Missouri, and Oklahoma State, and those were all teams that we played pretty well against throughout the year and thought we could beat them, and we did. It was fun. I’ll tell you what, here’s another thing that sticks out. It’s kind of funny how Nebraska was such a big football school, and then there were people all around the bus on the way from Nebraska City back to Lincoln. We had to get a police escort back and there were people all along Highway 2 once we hit the Nebraska state line waving and saying “thanks.” And I realized then that they hadn’t had any basketball things to get excited about, so that was really neat. HHC: How disappointing was it to end your career in the NCAA Tournament like that? TB: Yeah, that was tough to swallow, definitely. We were on a good roll going in there and we just ran into, of all teams, Penn, and they could pass and pick and really just dissected us to death. They had a couple of good guards, and we just couldn’t get it going. Everybody wanted to get us back into the game and everyone was pressing, and nothing worked. And it was VERY disappointing because I think we would have had a big run. I know back home in Chicago all my boys had us going quite a ways in their pools, and I know people in Lincoln did too, but unfortunately, we got another watch, and that’s about it. HHC: A lot of people say that you guys were unprepared and a little complacent in the NCAA Tournament those years. Do you agree with that, or were you guys just beaten on those nights? TB: I don’t think it was anything of a choke, but I just think we caught teams on their best days and our not so good days. That was the case with Penn; that was a team that executed and did the things they needed to win, and hit their shots, and it wasn’t from a lack of effort or choking, we just pressed too hard. HHC: What are your favorite memories of Nebraska, both on and off the court? TB: I enjoyed going to school there. I had a good time, and had never been out there before except for when we played there with Toledo. I liked the small town feel but yet it’s still a city. Most people say “hi and bye” to you instead of telling you to go somewhere, like in Chicago. As far as basketball goes, I had a great time, and it was neat going to the NCAA Tournament and winning the Big 8. But to this day, I’m still a little disappointed in how I performed my junior and senior years. I let my own expectations down, which is tough to swallow, but hey, you move on and try to achieve in other things, you know? HHC: For sure. Do you still keep in touch with anyone from Nebraska? TB: The only guy I have really have seen is Eric Piatkowski. You know, he obviously played with the Bulls the last two years, and I see him in the summer. I’ll see Beau Reid and a couple of guys every once in awhile at a football game or something, and I talk to Chris Cresswell occasionally, too, on the phone. I saw him a few years ago, but mostly just Eric; we’re still real good friends and we were roommates in college. We’ve always had a good time outside of basketball. HHC: Can you give us a funny and colorful Danny Nee story or two to add to our ongoing collection? TB: I guess you could put this in here, it’s not too bad, and we’re all adults now (Laughs). Our senior year we had a Christmas party, and Eric and I lived together, and we had all the guys come over. We told the team to dress up and you had to wear some type of sports coat and a tie, so all the guys, as you can imagine, had to scramble a little. HHC: (Laughs) Right. TB: Yeah… But it was getting out of hand and we were having a good time, and then all of a sudden the door knocks, and we’re like, “Who’s this?” And next thing you know its Danny Nee and another assistant we won’t name holding a case of Michelob Light and ready to join us. So we’re hanging out, having fun, and the next knock we get is from the Lincoln Police Department. So me and Eric go down and Coach Nee obviously wants to be a part of it and he comes down, and I think the officer looked at us and Coach Nee and said, “Hey Coach, can you keep it down?” And that was the end of that, but it was pretty funny. Those are good memories of Nee there. HHC: (Laughs) It’s amazing how each guy we talk to has a different Nee story. Do you still follow the basketball program at Nebraska? TB: I haven’t that much, I’ll be honest with you. I’ll watch them when they are on ESPN, and I’ll look at the standings once in awhile. I live in the Chicago and Chicago Land area and it’s such a Big 10 sports area, but I’ll look in the paper and follow them and try to keep up as much as I can. I don’t know stats or Barry Collier or anyone else, but hopefully they’ll get things turned around and get back on the right track for Nebraska Basketball and where it should be. They need to get back to the NCAA Tournament; that was always the benchmark of a good season, and I think along with getting there, it would help recruiting and the exposure of the program, too, obviously. HHC: Agreed. And last but not least, what has Tom Best been up to since 1994, and what is he doing today? TB: Just working, like the rest of us. I’m married these days with a 3 year old daughter, and we found out we have a little boy on the way come October, so I’m fired up about that. I’m actually of all things selling medical devices for spinal surgeries, and I’ve been doing that the last 6 years. And, I’ve gotten to go into the OR (Operating Room) and watch the procedures and stuff, so that’s kind of neat. I’m selling devices for back surgery which is kind of both neat and ironic after having back surgery myself. HHC: If we set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] , would you be willing to take some e-mails from our readers? TB: Sure, that’d be great. HHC: Awesome. Thanks for your time, and anything else you'd like to add? TB: I think what you guys are doing is awesome exposure of Nebraska Basketball. It’s a lot of hard work, and you and I have done a lot of phone tag leading up to this interview, but it’s appreciative to go onto Husker Hoops Central and see what a lot of other guys are doing. Even though I can’t keep in touch with all of them, it’s nice to see that everyone is doing well.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  11. Then & Now: Mike Naderer Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Mike Naderer played at Nebraska from 1978-1981, and is among the Top 60 scorers in NU history (657 points). Naderer started at guard for parts of each of the four seasons he played at Nebraska, and played for both Joe Cipriano and Moe Iba. Naderer is our latest Sunday guest on this edition of "Then & Now." HHC: Mike, thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with us. We've always wondered, where did your nickname of "Skater" come from? MN: Oh, I had some high school kids actually name me that. I don’t know if you remember Nate Archibald that played at UTEP, but his name was “Nate the Skate.” But anyway, that worked into Skater because it rhymed with Naderer, so it was pretty simple. Do you remember him? HHC: Yeah, I remember the name. MN: Yeah, he played for three or four NBA teams, Nate “Tiny” Archibald. Guys my age will remember who he was. HHC: You were one of the most heralded high school players in the southwest, as you came to Nebraska from Scottsdale, Arizona, after averaging 22 points, 12 assists, and 6 steals as a high school senior. What was your reason for coming to Nebraska, and what did you know about Husker Hoops before coming to Lincoln? MN: I actually had followed pretty much all of the basketball in the Midwest. One reason is that when I visited there, I was just really impressed with the new Bob Devaney Sports Center, which was like two years old at that time. But it was just great people, and the whole academic administration was tremendous back then. When they recruited me, they did a great job, and it felt like I was high on their list, so I had visited some other places, but when I visited there, they pretty much sold me on Lincoln. HHC: Talk to us about Joe Cipriano, as far as what kind of man he was, and how was your relationship with him? MN: He was a great man. I still am very good friends with his son today, and we see each other once a year or so. And Joe was the one who brought me in, and obviously gave me my first chance to start as a freshman, and had confidence enough in me that it worked out for me, because I got to play quite a bit those four years. He was just a great man, and he was the Dean of the Big 8 at the time, and having read on him when they were recruiting me from pamphlets they sent, he was probably the main reason that I attended the University of Nebraska. HHC: As a coach, how would you describe Joe Cipriano and what he believed in? MN: You know, I wasn’t really big in stature, if you remember, and he was probably the same way when he played in college. He gave me a lot of confidence and said that “you don’t measure what’s inside people, as far as the heart,” and he gave me my first shot. He was very firm and stern, but also very fair, and gave his players free reign within the system, and gave everyone an equal shot, and I think that’s all you can ask for from any coach. HHC: Your freshman year at Nebraska was 1977-1978, and you started 16 of the 28 games while "battling the flu" half of the season. How did that hinder you, and what exactly did you have? MN: Well, I got my first start the very first game against Missouri Southern and played pretty well. And then I started like the next 14 or 15, and then my only two games that I missed in my entire career were that year and due to the flu. I remember coming back from the Oklahoma State trip and it knocked me down, and I battled it for the next week or two, but I did get to play quite a bit that last half of the year. And I’ll tell you what, we had a good team that year, and that was before they enlarged the tournament to the field of 64, and if it were today’s game, we probably would have been in the NCAA had it been larger. But yeah, my freshman year was probably out most successful overall. HHC: Let’s talk a little bit more about that year. For the season, you guys finished 22-8, making the school's first post-season appearance (2nd Round of NIT) since 1966-1967. On that team were players like Brian Banks and Carl McPipe. Talk about how special it was playing with those guys, and what you remember from that year? MN: I came in and played alongside Brian, and I felt that Brian, when he was a junior, was probably the best guard in the Big 8, and at both ends of the floor. There were some great ones with Darnell Valentine and Larry Blackman, but Brian was right up there. With Brian, I thought that I played against the best guard in the conference each day in practice. And Carl McPipe was a great inside post man at his size, as he was only about 6’6”. He wasn’t real big, but he did really rebound well, and shot the ball midrange real well. Terry Novak, who is one of my best friends to this day, was one of the small forwards on that team, and he was just such a great role player. And we had Curt Hedberg and Andre Smith, who was also a freshman alongside me, and we did most of the playing from the freshman standpoint. But all those guys were great to play with, and it was a great team that meshed together, and I think we were like 11-0 or 12-0 before we lost one, and maybe made the Top 20 that year, although we ended up losing to Texas in the second round of the NIT, though they went on to win the NIT. All in all, it was a great year, going away from home and having success that early in my career. HHC: 1978-1979 was your sophomore season, and you started all but three games in the Husker backcourt on a team that went 14-13. The strength of that team was defense, which you ranked ninth nationally in, and first in the Big 8. How much of that defensive success was due to Moe Iba? MN: Probably 100% of it. Coach Cipriano had really let Moe take over the reigns coaching wise at that time, especially defensive schemes in practice. Moe was such a great defensive coach, and he demanded it number one, and you pretty much didn’t play at the University of Nebraska unless you could play solid defense. And he got that point acrossed and really sold it, and the players bought into it, so that’s probably why we were so successful defensively. HHC: Was it after the 1979 season that you found out that Cip had cancer, or was it not until the beginning of the following season? MN: It was more the beginning of the following year. I remember in the fall we came back, and we knew he had been diagnosed, we just didn’t know how severe. And he battled it, and I think we took a trip to Hawaii, and we came back, and it just got worse as the days went by. But he did make his trip to Hawaii, and I think that was one of his goals, and he was pretty much with us right until the very end, until it just got to the point where he couldn’t attend games. HHC: 1979-1980 was your junior season, and you guys finished 18-13 with another NIT appearance, while also finishing 2nd in the Big 8. How special was it having Joe Cipriano be there on the bench for that season while Moe Iba helped out as Associate Head Coach? MN: It was a great experience for both of them. They were great coaches, and both complimented each other as coaches. They had a great, strong relationship, and they just worked so well together. And it was just easy as a player to fit into their system, and they gave you a lot of support, but yet they pushed and drove you to be a better player and do well in the classroom and do things on and off the court in a respectful manner. You couldn’t ask for two better college coaches to play for. HHC: Prior to your senior season of 1980-1981, Cip continued to become seriously ill, before ultimately passing away a few days before the season opening game against Wyoming. What do you remember about this, and how difficult was it to go through? MN: I remember doing an interview on TV right before the Wyoming game after he had passed. It was a difficult period for most of us, and personally for me, because I had a lot of respect for him, and he obviously gave me a great chance to play at that level. And like I said, he was the reason I came there, and my parents were really impressed with him when he came to Arizona to recruit me. And he just followed through and showed a lot of care for his athletes. It was just a very hard time for a week or two right after that, and probably, as most people remember, it was easier to just play for him and stay busy when you go trough something like that. But it definitely affected us in the next couple of weeks and months to follow, and then you go through that phase of grief, and then afterwards, when the season ends, it really sinks in. HHC: What do you remember about the last time you saw Cip, as far as what he said or what sticks out? MN: I remember visiting him at his house, and again, Terry Novak and myself had gone over there and visited him at the time, and a couple people were over, and I don’t really remember who, but we just wanted to see him. We knew it was kind of getting late, and we didn’t know how much longer he’d be with us, and it seemed like within three or four days after that, it happened. It was a real special time because it was pretty much just the three or four of us in there, and we spent some good quality time with him. And it became very sad, but as Terry and I remember looking back, we got to see him in pretty good spirits the last time, and it just was very special. HHC: Moe Iba took over as head coach for your senior season of 1980-1981, and your team went 15-12. Do you feel that team rallied around Coach Iba and Cip and overachieved, or was it right about where it should have been? MN: It probably was right about where it should have been. That year I don’t know if we lost Ray Collins for a little bit to a broken foot, but I think that was the year, and at the time, we were at Colorado, and were playing well, and we were near the top of the Big 8. And he broke his foot, and that really hurt us, because we really lost a solid player in Ray, and probably didn’t recover as a team because he was really solid offensively and defensively. And we kind of went on a downward spiral, and we lost to Colorado at home in the first round of the playoffs. They had Jo Jo Hunter, and he scored a bunch on us, and they were just ready for the game and upset us at home. HHC: In that season, Andre Smith was Big 8 Player of the Year. Talk about what kind of player and teammate he was? MN: Andre was a very good player. Again, another post player probably undersized, and that was a credit to Coach Iba and Cipriano. We weren’t real big, and Andre was the same size as Carl. They were just great players who learned to play with their backs to the basket. And we ran a motion offense, and learned how to pass the ball real well, inside and out, and it really allowed them to score. Both of them took advantage of that offensive system. And Moe did a great job with Andre and Carl, as far as instructing individually in the post. They were very skilled, but I think Coach Iba got the most out of all of us. We may not have been the most skilled players in the Big 8, but we seemed to play harder than everybody. HHC: And what about Jack Moore? What was he like, and did you keep in touch with him at all upon leaving Lincoln? MN: Yeah, I did, until his passing in the tragic plane crash. But Jack, at his size, overachieved at everything. You couldn’t take the basketball from him - he was very solid offensively. He was a great free throw shooter, and obviously above average outside shooter, but really took the ball to the basket. They list him at 5’8 or 5’9, and he was just unbelievable to play with. He was very good with setting you up, and that’s basically where I got my points, when I did score, was from him. He was very good at penetrating and drawing help and then kicking it to the open person. HHC: What are your favorite memories off the court at Nebraska, and when was the last time you were in Lincoln? MN: Last time I was in Lincoln was… Well, I usually visit once a summer to play golf, and I’ve taken my son back to two football games. Probably one of the most favorite memories of recent time has been taking my son Andrew, who is 11, with me. I took him back two years ago to see his first football game, and again, we stayed with Terry. And we got him into a Big Red football game. I think that kind of bonding, taking your son, is great. And I’m still trying to take him back to a basketball game. And I think we may be playing in a very competitive baseball tournament in Omaha, so we’re looking to come back there in June. HHC: Do you keep up with the current team at all? MN: I do. In fact, we bought a game on ESPN Full Court last night (Tuesday night, January 17, 2006). I saw them play not so well against Iowa State, but I’m excited for them, and maybe somebody can slow Texas down, and maybe the rest of the league can catch them. Looks to me that after Texas, it looks wide open, but I was hoping they’d protect their home court last night, but maybe they’ll beat Kansas. So it looks like maybe they can go down there, and if they play a little bit better, beat them. HHC: We’d like that! Finally, what is Mike Naderer up to these days, and what has he been doing the last 25 years? MN: When I left Nebraska, I coached for six years at the college level. I did a grad assistant job at Nebraska, and then went to Drake and Baylor. Then I moved back to Arizona after six years and took over the head-coaching job at Coronado High School in Scottsdale Arizona, and I currently live in Phoenix, which is right next door. But I coached there for fifteen years, and just resigned two years ago so I could spend more time with my family and my son, and he’s very involved with youth sports. And I teach in the school system here, it’s my eighteenth year, and I’m an elementary physical education teacher, so I’m still heavily involved in youth sports, with Arizona Youth Basketball and Youth Baseball. So, I spend a lot of time at basketball gyms or baseball fields. HHC: That’s a good life right there! MN: (Laughs) You got it. HHC: Hey, if we set you up an email account at [email protected] , would you be willing to take some e-mails from our readers? MN: Sure. HHC: Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time Mike, and anything else you'd like to add? MN: No, this was great. I appreciate you contacting me and thinking about us old timers.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  12. Then & Now: Lynn Mitchem Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy UIC Media Relations) Lynn 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. Mitchem 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. Mitchem, 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 & Now". 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. LM: 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 1986-1987? 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 better. So, I definitely remember the younger guys growing. But Eric Johnson having a real good senior year is what stood out most. 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 tournament. 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 guess. 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">
  13. Then & Now: Larry Florence Compiled By Dave Brandon Larry Florence played at Nebraska from 1997-2000, and is fifteenth on the all-time scoring list for the Huskers with 1,223 points. Florence also ranks third in Nebraska career starts (105), eighth in games played (123), and seventh in steals (137). The former four-year starter and 6’5” forward is the latest Husker Alumni to join HHC for a Sunday version of “Then & Now.” HHC: Thanks for joining us. You had a very successful high school career at Phenix City High School (Alabama), where you averaged 19.2 PPG and 13.2 RPG as a senior, and earned All-State Alabama honors before choosing Nebraska. Who else recruited you besides the Huskers, and what sold you on Nebraska? LF: I had a lot of schools that were offering, but Nebraska, Auburn, Alabama, and Wake Forest were my top choices. I chose Lincoln because when I went there, they were really focused on having me get out of college with a degree, and I was going to have a one on one session with a tutor. And also, when I came up there I met Tyronn (Lue) and we hit it off well and I wanted to play with him. Jimmy Williams also played a big role in me coming there and was the assistant who recruited me most. HHC: Did you know anything about Nebraska Basketball before they started recruiting you, and what was the perception of Husker Hoops to you at that time? LF: Well, I knew it wasn’t a basketball school, but it was a program that I felt was reaching toward basketball goals. And I just felt comfortable when I went there. The only thing I knew about Nebraska was football, though, because the only thing we ever got down here Nebraska related was football, and never any basketball. HHC: Your first year in Lincoln was 1995-1996, and you sat out and attended classes at Nebraska. Your first season on varsity was 1996-1997, and you started immediately. Talk about what it meant to you playing right off the bat? LF: It was really exciting when coach decided he was going to start me. I really was excited in getting to play with guys like Cookie (Belcher) and Tyronn (Lue). I knew I could play with those guys, even though there had been a lot of talk about me not being able to adapt to the Division I level, so I was excited to get that chance and show everyone what I could do. HHC: You guys made the NIT that season, and 1997-1998 would be even better, as you won 20 games and made the NCAA Tournament playing against Arkansas. What do you remember about that season, and how tough of a loss was that game in the tournament? LF: You know what? That was really tough losing to Arkansas, because we had those guys. We had it won. They actually had folded and then Coach Nee made some decisions that changed the outcome of the game, and I was really upset with that and it stuck with me for quite awhile, because I felt like we had a great chance to beat them. HHC: What do you mean by decisions that changed the outcome of the game? LF: Substitutions; let’s leave it at that. HHC: Not a problem. 1998-1999 saw you guys achieve similar successes to the previous year, as you again won 20 games and made the NIT. You also went down to Oklahoma and spanked the Sooners 96-81, but they still made the NCAA Tournament over you guys. How big of a travesty was that? LF: It was hard, but thinking back about it, they had the upper hand because they were more known basketball wise, and their coach was well known and well liked in the conference. But yes, it was a hard thing to swallow. HHC: Besides that, another disappointment from that year was losing at Texas Tech (73-68) in the final seconds of the game, which most feel made the NCAA Tournament bubble pop. Do you still have nightmares about Rayford Young going coast to coast in that game? LF: No, not really. A lot of stuff I went through up there, it’s still in my mind, but I don’t think about it like I used to. I always felt we underachieved each year I was there. HHC: Which year was the worst? LF: The worst year was my senior year. Cookie was out, Coach brought in some new guys and a new system, and everything went haywire that year. HHC: Before we talk more about that 1999-2000 season, talk about what you remember with Danny Nee’s job situation. Did you have a good idea it would be his last season before the season even started, or did you guys have no clue until the end of the year? LF: We had a good idea that it was going to be his last. We had talked about it and heard rumors about it. But it didn’t really matter playing wise. HHC: How difficult was it to play that season and not make the post-season, especially after making it your first three seasons at Nebraska? LF: That was the hardest thing because that was supposed to have been my year, where we put it all together and we win on top of that. I was supposed to become a more complete player, and I thought we had enough talent to go to the NCAA Tournament. It was just a really tough ending. HHC: Do you agree with the sentiment that had Cookie Belcher not gotten injured that year, you guys would have made the post-season and Danny Nee might still be at Nebraska? LF: Yes, I do. I was looking forward to Cookie and I being out there together. We had talked about it all summer and all year long, what we’d accomplish together. And Cookie brought so much to our team that of course it took a lot out of us. I think that was tough. HHC: In your opinion, did Danny Nee get a raw deal and unfair treatment at the end? LF: From the fans? HHC: Yeah, the fans and media. LF: Well… I mean, I don’t really think that he got a fair shake for a couple years there, because he always had a lot of pressure on him. But if you look at the talent that he had, then you could say that we underachieved; I’ll leave it at that. HHC: What was the biggest shot or play you ever made in a Nebraska uniform? LF: Man, you’re making me go all the way back here, I hadn’t thought about this in awhile (Laughs)! Man… Biggest shot or play… Okay, it was a game when we played Baylor at home in 1997-1998, and Tyronn was injured, and we were down, but we needed a spark and I started that spark and I ended up having a pretty big game. I hit a couple of last second shots, and none to win, but just some to help spark it (Editors Note: A 66-55 Nebraska win). HHC: And favorite place in the Big 12 to play? LF: I really enjoyed Kansas, and that time we beat Kansas in 1998-1999, at Kansas, it was on television and that was probably my biggest highlight of my career (64-59 Nebraska win). Man, what a feeling. HHC: What are your favorite off the court memories at Nebraska? LF: I would say my first two years. Anytime that we got together during those years were great because those were more family than the last two were. We would get together and go hang out or go to Coach Nee’s house and go to a movie or something. HHC: When was the last time you were in Lincoln, and do you still follow the team at all? LF: Man, I think it was 2000 the last time I was there. But I’ve been trying to keep up with both the basketball and football, yes. HHC: And before we get to today, we have to ask you for a funny Danny Nee story or two. Can you add a couple to our ongoing list? LF: Yes. I remember one day we had gone to that laser tag thing in the maze out there in East Lincoln, and Coach Nee thought he was free and safe, and he took off running and ran into a wall and busted his nose (Laughs). And his nose busted wide open and everybody was laughing. (Laughs) It was funny even for him to be out there playing with us to begin with. But just off hand, that’d probably be one thing I can think of. HHC: (Laughs) That guy never ceases to amaze us. Anyway, talk to us about what Larry Florence is doing today, and what he has been up to since 2000? LF: Well, I started off alone because when Danny left, I never did hear any contact from anybody that had said they would help me out with my dreams of pursuing basketball. So what I did was take it upon myself to get myself overseas, and I’ve been doing that and trying to move my way up, and I’ve also been working odds and ends jobs over here. But my last basketball job was over in Argentina, and if everything goes well and I get a good contract, I’ll play overseas again next year. If not, then I’ll try and use my education and get back into coaching. HHC: Awesome, sounds like everything is going well. Larry, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us, and are you cool with taking some e-mails from the fans at [email protected] if we set you up an account? LF: Sure, I’d like that. HHC: Great! Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you’d like to say or add? LF: No, not really, other than it was nice to speak with you and I really appreciate you doing this.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  14. Then & Now: Larry Cox Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Nebraska Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Cox played for the Huskers from 1974-1976, and is the all-time leader in field goal percentage at Nebraska (.672). Cox also was the Big 8's all-time leader in the same category. Cox, who is 44th on the all-time Husker scoring list (757 points), is a former Academic All-Big 8 in addition to his accomplishments on the court under the late Joe Cipriano. The 6'6" Cox, who played center at Nebraska, is our latest guest in this Sunday's edition of "Then & Now". HHC: Welcome aboard. When was the last time you talked some Nebraska basketball? LC: Oh golly, a longtime. I think its been years. Every once in awhile, it comes up around here (Indiana) because Jack Moore is from Muncie, and Brian Carr coaches around here in the high school ranks. Actually, just this morning, a guy came up to me while I was working out and said, “You know Jack Moore is from around here and Brian Carr is still in town.” So, it does come up from time to time, but not much. HHC: You came to Nebraska in 1972, and arrived from Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver (Colorado) where you were an All-City performer. What made you choose Nebraska, and who else recruited you? LC: I was recruited by the University of Missouri and Colorado. But, some place in the middle of the recruitment process, both of them decided I wasn’t big enough and quick enough, so they dropped off somewhere in my senior year, and Nebraska was really the only one that stuck with me all the way through. HHC: Phil Chambers, Rickey Harris, and yourself were all from Denver and played at the same time. Was that pure coincidence, or was there some sort of connection from one of the coaches? LC: Well, Lonnie Porter was one of the assistants, along with Moe (Iba), and he was from a high school (Manual High School) in Denver. He didn’t have anything to do with me, but definitely Phil Chambers and Rickey Harris were his connections. HHC: What was the perception of Nebraska basketball back then to a high school kid from Denver? LC: (Laughs) I was really naïve. I knew nothing outside of my own city. I didn’t even know that Nebraska had been #1 in football the year before, so I had no perception of anything anywhere. I actually thought Nebraska was somewhere around Arkansas, and I thought I was going someplace warm. And I showed up on campus my first winter and said, “What did I do to myself here?” (Laughs) But as it turned out, it was a great choice for me, but I had no perceptions before. HHC: Talk about the late Joe Cipriano, both as a man and basketball coach. LC: I really liked Joe. Joe was funny and always doing extravagant things. He was just kind of a dandy… Sort of always thinking about stuff. He always seemed to buy new shoes, and I got along with him real well. He was good at recruiting and good at public relations, and just a nice man. I was sorry to see him pass. And, I had a pretty good relationship with his son, Randy. As far as on the court, I think he was influenced quite a bit by Moe Iba’s style. Moe brought the theory to the basketball team and made sure we played tough defense. Joe, I think, emulated Bobby Knight somewhat with that style of play. Of course we never had the talent or size of Indiana schools, but he was a good coach and very flamboyant, and fun, to play for. HHC: What are your favorite memories of him? LC: One of my favorite memories was one time he got real upset and things weren’t going our way, and he went on the court and was circling in this pinkish/purple sports coat, and he swinging it over his head and got a technical foul, which I think was at Kansas, who he especially hated. Actually, he’d made us go out during the “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant and have us go around the Jayhawk during that and dribble just to get them to boo, and he’d go talk to them and egg them on more. HHC: (Laughs) Classic. You were a little bit undersized to be a center at 6'6", but led the Huskers in rebounding in 1976 and led the Big 8 in field goal percentage in 1975. What made you play bigger than you were? LC: Hmm… That’s a great question. I think I was really a role player and our offense was a very set offense. So, as long as you told me where to go or whom I was supposed to pass to, I was okay. I was never really a good one on one or individual player, like Marsh or any of those guys. I was a role player, and I tried to do what the coaches said. And, Coach Iba had us playing good defense and in good position for rebounds, and so I just tried to follow the plan. HHC: Your first year at Nebraska was 1972-1973, and it was spent on the JV team, where you averaged 19.4 PPG and 16.5 RPG. At that time, were you forced to play on the JV team one year before you could play varsity, or what was the reason for you not being on varsity? LC: What happened was they had some really talented guys ahead of me. They had Ron Taylor, he was 6’10”. Mark… from Iowa… I think it was Enright, and he was there that year. And then I think Brendy Lee was still there, and Don Jackson. So, they had some people ahead of me, and I was like the fourth center. Playing on the JV was a way of keeping me active and playing. HHC: 1973-1974 was your first year on the varsity team, and you guys went 14-12 (7-7). You averaged 7.0 PPG and 4.4 RPG, and the team got to travel to Italy following the season for three weeks, where you guys went 2-5. What was that experience like? LC: You know, I didn’t even make the trip. I opted out and missed out, and heard it was quite a trip. Lots of Bob Siegel stories about monks and monasteries, lots of things, but I wasn’t there (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) In 1974-1975, you guys again went 14-12 (7-7), and lost three Big 8 games by a combined four points. Individually, you led the Big 8 in field goal percentage, and the team in free throws. What do you remember about that year? LC: They all blend together now, all those years… Boy. (Long Pause) I guess I remember the sense at the end of the year that we were improving and getting better, and that we were close. And I enjoyed that year especially because Kent Reckewey and Steve Erwin were older, and just being around them and having those friendships. HHC: 1975-1976 was your last year at Nebraska, and the team went 15-14 (7-7), while you led the team in field goal percentage, rebounds, and free throw shooting. Your team also led the Big 8 in scoring defense and finished eighth nationally. What made that team so good defensively, and how big of a role did Assistant Coach Moe Iba play in that? LC: I think we played a very tough, aggressive defense, and we slowed the ball down. We played hard-nosed, man-to-man defense, and especially for a post on the inside, we worked a lot at not getting caught or pinned by the big man. I was always moving around and trying not to get touched or pinned with an elbow so we could steal the ball and keep them from it, so we spent a lot of time on defense. HHC: You finished your career as the Big 8's all-time leader in field goal percentage. What made you such a good finisher, and how big of an honor was that? LC: It was a tremendous honor. And the funny thing is people think of the percentage that I made, but if you think about where I was shooting from, the question is how could I have missed 33% of those? (Laughs) They were all put backs and dump offs, and I was trying to tell my son that I don’t remember a single move I ever put on somebody. All my scoring was offensive rebounds and put backs. HHC: (Laughs) You are way too modest. LC: It’s the truth (Laughs). The question is, how did I miss 33% of those shots?!? HHC: After fifty years, the Coliseum also saw its last year of basketball in 1975-1976. Talk about what it was like playing there. LC: Oh, it was a wonderful place to play because it was awful. You go into the new stadiums and they are so comfortable, and it’s almost like watching a movie. At the barn, it was uncomfortable to sit, and so people stood, and they were so tightly packed into the bleachers. And I remember they used to put the big bass drum behind the opposing teams so that the band made the opposing team not hear. And, you had to move the fans on the side when they’d pass the ball in, and fans would pinch the players and pull on their shorts, it was great. When the place was full, it just rocked, and you just don’t get the sense from the new stadiums. There’s just something about playing in an old place that is great. HHC: What are your favorite memories of Nebraska, both on and off the court? LC: The one I get the most mileage out of is when we played the University of Indiana in the Indiana Classic in 1975. And, at the end of the game at Indiana, if you lose by 20 points, fans can take their ticket to McDonald’s and get a hamburger. And, if you lose by 30, they get a hamburger and fries. And with 5 minutes let, the fans were chanting “burgers, fries, and shake, to go,” “burgers, fries, and shake, to go”. And the funny thing was that at the end of the game, Joe wouldn’t give as much as money to eat if we lost. Usually we’d get $7.00, but we’d only get $3.00 if we lost. So, we got $3.00 that night, and we were trying to figure out what to eat, when somebody said, “I wonder if we go to McDonalds, if they would give us a burger, shake, and fries, to go” since we don’t have money. So we go, and you’ve got 6’5”, 6’6”, and 6’7” kids standing there, so obviously we’re a basketball team, and the kid behind the counter cracked up because he knew that we were trading in for our burger, shake, and fries. So anytime my kid asks me if we were any good, I say “yes, we held the opposing team to less than a Happy Meal.” HHC: (Laughs) That is priceless. LC: (Laughs) Off the court, my favorite memories were that I was very involved with the Campus Christian group at the time (the Navigators), and that was a highlight. I learned a lot about myself and my relationship with God, and it was a very meaningful time for me. HHC: When was the last time you were back in Lincoln, and do you still keep in touch with anyone you met while in college? LC: I do keep in touch with people, mostly my Navigator friends. Last time I was there was the Hall of Fame Induction in 2000, and I brought my family, as we were living in Kansas City at the time. I read a lot of your articles and actually just e-mailed Jerry yesterday, but I hadn’t talked to him in probably ten years, and I think he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame last time I saw him, and I came down for that and talked to him. HHC: And what has Larry Cox been up to the past thirty years, and where will we find him today? LC: After graduation, I joined a non-denominational Christian organization called “The Navigators”, taking campus ministry positions at Iowa State University and then Drake University. After eight years in the ministry, my wife and I moved to Denver to start a business selling industrial oils, greases and filtration products along Colorado’s front range. We moved back to Lincoln in 1987 where I started graduate school in 1989. I completed my PhD at Nebraska in 1995, and have essentially been a business professor and/or entrepreneurship center director since then. I’ve taught at Florida International University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and at the University of Wisconsin. I’ve also worked at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. I’m currently an Associate Professor and Entrepreneurship Center Director at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. My wife, Elly, teaches special education at an elementary school. My oldest daughter is a junior on the crew team at the University of Wisconsin. My second daughter will be attending Wisconsin next year. My son is a junior at Muncie Central High School (Jack Moore’s alma mater), and my youngest daughter is a 7th grader. HHC: If we set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] , are you game with taking some e-mails and questions from our readers? LC: Oh sure. HHC: Great. Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to add? LC: No, I think you covered it all. Thanks a lot for the interview.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  15. Then & Now: Craig Wortmann Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Craig Wortmann played at Nebraska from 1999-2001, and is one of the more successful walk-ons in school history. Wortmann began his career under Danny Nee, and continued his progression with the hiring of Barry Collier. In fact, Wortmann grew as a player so much that he accomplished a rare feat for a walk-on in 2000-2001 as he cracked the starting lineup. Wortmann recently sat down with HHC as our latest Sunday guest in the feature "Then & Now." HHC: Craig, thanks for joining us on HHC. CW: Not a problem. I’m really glad to find out about this website. HHC: You grew up in Hartington, Nebraska, and attended Cedar Catholic High School, where you helped lead your team to a 24-1 record your senior season. Talk about what playing basketball at that level was like, and did you find it hard to get recruited because of the small town? CW: I think so, but just a little bit. There were offers from the schools in the northeastern part of Nebraska, obviously. But, to get out of that region was pretty difficult, especially in getting noticed. You basically had to do a lot of different things in the summer to get any kind of attention. But playing at that level, it was great, and at our school there was a lot of tradition from all of the players before me. There was a bunch of stuff there that we watched growing up that we all wanted to be a part of, and I think that while we were there, we did some nice things as well. But yeah, growing up together as a group and playing together from the 4th grade and on was fun. So, it was nice being in a small school for that reason, because you got to know your friends and people you were playing with. I still have some of those friends to this day. HHC: You ended up going to Northeast Community College out of high school, where you were teammates and split minutes with former Husker Ross Buckendahl. Talk about the competition at that level, and did it prepare you at all for your arrival at Nebraska? CW: I think so, because it helped me grow and mature quite a bit. What I mean is that coming from a small school, you’re the best player on your team, and you don’t really find that level of competition all across the board that we had at Northeast. We had a lot of fun there at Northeast, and a lot of us knew each other from the small schools that we were playing against in that area. I played against Ross in basketball and football growing up, so we knew of each other, but obviously got to know each other better, which was great. But yeah, playing at Northeast really helped me develop into a better player, as far as finding a few things you were good at it, and realizing your weaknesses, as well. That’s what really made you better. HHC: How much did it mean to you and Ross being teammates at both Northeast and Nebraska? CW: I think it helped us get through some of the first challenges of walking on, since we did that at the same time. And, our decision to leave Northeast to take that chance, it was nice having somebody to do that with. We were even roommates at Northeast. So, we talked about leaving and decided that we both wanted to take that chance, to see what we could do. And, growing through those stages helped us, because we had so much history together – kind of like having a brother there for you at all times. And then you also had a friend there when things were good or bad – just always someone there to share different things with. So, I think having him there made it easier to adjust with all took place. HHC: We've talked to former Husker walk-on Jeremy Glenn from Ogallala, and he's told us that former assistant coach Jeff Smith sought him out to walk on upon arriving on campus. How did this process work with you - did the coaches know you’d be coming ahead of time, or did you come to campus with just an outside chance? CW: It was more of me wanting to come. I had thought about trying to walk on in high school, and it just wasn’t working out, so I decided to go to Northeast before taking the chance. So, I came, got all the paperwork, and it took off from there. We had tryouts and actually the first tryout that we had, I didn’t make it, and Ross did. But, they called me back two or three days later and told me they needed another player, so it started from there. It was a week of let down, but after that, it was nothing but good experiences. HHC: Does the walk on process always work that way, or does it vary from player to player and year to year? CW: We had an open tryout, and I went in and talked to coach Nee before hand when I first got onto campus. So, I knew what to do before I got started. And, they always had a time where players got together and play, so Ross and I tried to do that as much as we could. And then we interacted with the coaches to see when we’d have tryouts, and we had 8 or 10 player’s total tryout. So, they took Ross off the bat, and me later. I don’t know if that’s the standard process every year, because it depends on what they have at that time. If they have a lot of players and don’t need more, then I don’t think there’s a huge need for it. I don’t know if they look for players or not. Coach Collier may have at the beginning, but now that he has his own recruits, I’m not sure. I don’t know how its been done lately, but that’s how it was done when I was there. HHC: Talk about the average day in the life of a scout-team member, as far as practice goes. What kind of things would you do, and how did it differ from the scholarship players? CW: The average day was pretty much the same for everyone. We had a pretty structured schedule, with weights before or after practice, and then drills. The only breakdown of differences was a point in practice when scout team guys would sometimes get together and learn the plays of the opposition. But after that, we’d get back together and play. So really, we were all together, and you wouldn’t know the difference between a walk-on and scholarship player. HHC: Did you ever have any idea that you would become a starter by your senior year at Nebraska, and how much did that mean to you? CW: As I first came in, I didn’t think so. In the program we were in at that time, and the way things were, I kind of thought scout team was the highest I’d get to, which was okay by me, because I’d made it, and it was a goal I was trying to do. It kind of helped me to relax, and to be able to just sit back and learn from the older players. When I first got the idea that Coach Collier was going to start me for that first game, I was a little nervous, but not that much because of what I’d gone through the previous two seasons. But, it meant the world to me at that time. Just getting on the team was one transition, and then getting to play was everything coming true that I’d worked for up to that point. So, it was a fun time, as far as the relationships we built and teams we had. HHC: Talk a little bit about what it was like playing under Danny Nee compared to Barry Collier, as far as describing each as both a coach and man. CW: It was definitely two different personalities. There were good and bad things on both sides. Coach Nee was more laidback, but we were able to do different things to bring out individual talents, which can hurt you sometimes. Under Coach Collier, it was more of an effort to bring out the team aspect, as far as more discipline, which worked out well, too. Coach Collier was definitely more disciplined and a straight a shooter. He’d tell you the way it was, and what you needed to do to play. Coach Nee was more roundabout, and maybe sometimes you didn’t get it. So, in that aspect it was kind of nice, because I know there were a few times that Coach Collier told me that, “you need to do this,” and it helped a lot. I enjoyed both coaches very much. HHC: We ask every player who played under Danny Nee for a classic Danny Nee story or two to add to our ongoing collection. What can you contribute? CW: What sticks out with me about Coach Nee was when we’d be in Kansas City, and especially since I live here now. But anyway, we’d always go to Houston’s, which is a great restaurant and steakhouse here. So I guess that just thinking back to the places he’d take us to eat, it gave us a little culture. Some of our guys never had the chance to go into those kinds of places and eat, so that was something we did every time we came to Kansas City. HHC: What are your favorite memories of your times at Nebraska, both on and off the court? Any particular games stick out? CW: Well, probably the favorite games to play in were the home games of the Big 12. The crowds there at the Devaney Center were great, as far as the excitement. That’s just something that coming from a small town, was enormous to be a part of. You just can’t describe it until you’re inside of it. Probably what I remember most is that you would think that with that large of a crowd, you’d get distracted. But, as you got onto the court, everything went away, and it was 5 on 5 with coaches screaming at you. And I just always remember thinking, “We’re sitting here in front of so many people, but it seems like there’s only 12 people out here trying to beat the other team.” Off the court, I think it was the friendships that we built, because we had a lot of fun goofing around on road trips. Then going to class, and just doing the normal college things. If we were closer, I think that some of us would still be together and hanging out, but unfortunately, we’re all dispersed and have gotten on with our lives. HHC: Before we get to what you're doing today, answer us an honest question. Who was better with the ladies, yourself or Ross, because we hear he's quite the bragger. CW: (Laughs) Ross… Well, I don’t know if I can say anything, because I don’t want to get him into trouble since he’s married now and so am I. (Laughs) I think we both just had a lot of fun, because him and I were together for a lot of years, and we were almost like brothers with the things that we did together, as far as joking around. But, I’d probably have to say that I’d have to be better with the ladies than him. And, I would assume he’d expect that answer from me. HHC: (Laughs) We thought so... Hey, what is Craig Wortmann up to these days, both personally and professionally? CW: Like I just mentioned, I recently was married to my wife Wendy. She was a track athlete at Doane, and we just built a house here in Olathe, just outside of Kansas City. I work in KC for U.S. Bank in the private banking area, and am enjoying it a lot. And, besides that, I’m just trying to enjoy life right now and play a little basketball on the side, along with a little flag football. Just trying to have fun and enjoy life. HHC: Craig, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us. Are you cool with taking reader e-mails at [email protected] if we set you up an account? CW: Thanks for having me, and yeah, I’ll definitely take some e-mails. Keep up the great work with the site; I’m glad that I know about it now. ***UPDATE*** As of 05/01/06 Craig Wortmann is now a sales representative with Perceptive Software.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
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