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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: 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">
  3. 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">
  4. 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">
  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: 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">
  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: Tony Farmer Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Tony Farmer played at Nebraska for one season, and that was the record-breaking year of 1990-1991, which saw Nebraska finish with a record of 26-8 and in the season ending Top 10 of some polls. Following his season at Nebraska, Farmer went on to play in the NBA with the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, and Golden State Warriors. The 6’9” 225-pound Farmer is our latest guest in this Sunday’s edition of “Then & Now.” HHC: You went to Artesia High School in the L.A. area, and averaged 22.6 PPG and 10.0 RPG in your senior season (1987). You were MVP of the Suburban Conference, and had your jersey retired, along with Tom Tolbert and Ed O’Bannon. What made you originally choose San Jose State out of high school? TF: It was close to home, and I was very young coming out of high school and didn’t want to go to far away. It was close enough and a decent enough school where my parents could see me play, so that was why the decision was made. HHC: Did Nebraska ever recruit you out of high school? TF: No. My final five choices were San Jose State, USC, UCLA, Oklahoma, and Arizona. HHC: You played a year and a half at San Jose State, and actually played against Nebraska in the Ameritas Classic of 1988-1989, averaging 17.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG in the two games. Was your experience in Lincoln that weekend what made you choose to transfer to Nebraska after leaving San Jose State at the midway point of your sophomore season? TF: Yeah. They had really good support and I’d always known they had a good football team. But I had good playing success there during that tournament and really liked the atmosphere and people. I also liked the Big 8 Conference, because Oklahoma was one of my final choices since my Dad went there. And I felt it (Nebraska) was a good school with a good graduation rate. It was just a situation that I felt I wanted to be a part of. HHC: What was the perception of Lincoln and Nebraska basketball to an L.A. kid at that time? TF: To me, I knew it was a very, very small city of 250,000. And, I wanted a slower pace coming from L.A., so that played a big part in it being my choice. But also, one of the main things was that I had a great relationship with the Mills family there (Lincoln), Stan and Reta. They drove our van for San Jose State during the Ameritas Classic, and I maintained contact with them afterward because we had a good time. And when I told them I was coming they were all excited, and they helped make my transition easy. HHC: Talk about your relationship with Danny Nee, both at the beginning of your career at Nebraska, and at the end? TF: When I initially decided to transfer, I spoke to Coach (Gary) Bargen first, and he told me that they were definitely interested in me coming. And I remember Coach Nee flew out and met me and my Dad and told me it’d be a good opportunity. From the first day I got to Lincoln, he always made me feel welcome, and told me that although I’ll be red shirting that first year, I wouldn’t be less important than anyone else. I had a good relationship with him then, and even when I decided to turn pro, he kind of put my name out there for me to see where I’d be taken or go, and just supported me all the way through. I remember that after my first year I maintained contact with him, and periodically throughout my pro career as well, although I haven’t talked to him in some time. I talked to Coach Bargen recently though, and we still stay in touch. HHC: 1989-1990 was your first season at Nebraska, and you sat out as a transfer while the team went 10-18. What did you learn that season, and was it beneficial for you? TF: Yeah, it was good for me because I felt it was a good transition. But the main thing that kept us together was staying in Lincoln after that season and going to summer school and working out together. We became really close that summer, and to this day, that’s the closest-knit group I’ve ever been around. You’ve got guys like Beau (Reid) and Rich (King) that were already there, and me and Keith Moody and (Eric) Piatkowski and (Bruce) Chubick, we all came in the same year, and Jose (Ramos) came, and we had a tough, tough run in practice, but it was the closest group of guys I’ve ever been around. HHC: Did you honestly have any idea that you guys would have the kind of success you did in 1990-1991 prior to the start of the season? TF: I felt we were good, and I think my red shirt year that the team I was on that practiced against the starters was just as good as some other teams. Now, did I know we’d be 26-8? No, I can’t make that up, but I thought once we started conditioning and stuff that guys came in shape, and right when we began in the San Juan Shootout and we beat Illinois, I knew we’d be special. How special? I had no idea. But when I made that pass to Beau against Michigan State to help us start 16-1, I knew it was going to be real special. HHC: 1990-1991 - What sticks out most? TF: The thing that sticks out is that every time we had a crossing, we crossed it. People kept saying it was a fluke and we weren’t that good, but we kept beating the same consistent teams. We went to the Big 8 and Keith Moody hit that three against Oklahoma, and Piatkowski came off the bench with that effort. Even though things didn’t end up great in the Big 8 and NCAA Tournaments, no matter what, they can’t change the history of our time and the makeup of how we got there. HHC: What was your favorite individual moment of that season? TF: The times when I had a chance to beat Oklahoma, because I know Billy Tubbs was real cocky back then, and like I said, the family had gone to OU. And I had two good games against them, one at their place and one in the Big 8 tournament, and that was probably the biggest highlight for me individually. And even before those games, they acted like we wouldn’t be around, and that was just a great achievement both for the team and myself to take it to them. HHC: Do you think that the late night start against Xavier in the NCAA Tournament is a valid excuse for the loss, like some have said, or is that just that – an excuse? TF: I think that’s just an excuse. I really can’t say that the start time matters. We were seeded way higher but they made the shots, and I don’t think we took them as seriously as we should have and it kind of showed in the end. We were real upset by that. HHC: How tough was it to have that season end on a sour note like that? TF: It just felt like there was a lot of unfinished business, and the fact that I didn’t come back for my senior season didn’t give me a chance for redemption. If we would have kept me and Jose around, I don’t know if we would have been as good, but close, but life goes on. HHC: What are your favorite memories of Lincoln, both on and off the court? TF: Probably on the court was the fan support that year. We weren’t getting that much support early, but as we got going, the fans were pretty good. Off the court was being around the teammates and being able to associate with lots of people. My roommate at the time was Nate Turner, a football player, and that was real good to have someone from an opposite sport around, and we always supported each other. And we stayed in touch until a few years ago, and have now unfortunately lost touch. HHC: When was the last time you were in Lincoln, and have you been back to a Nebraska game since you played? TF: I haven’t been back to Lincoln since the day I left to turn pro. So 15, 16 years. And I haven’t watched a Nebraska game in quite some time, although I watched some of the games that Pike played in after I left, but I haven’t followed them as closely. I see what they are doing here and there, but I haven’t followed them like a diehard. HHC: What made you choose to go pro following the 1991 season? TF: The fact is that I didn’t really know what my eligibility was from the extra benefits, and I knew that my family needed the money and it was the best thing for me. So I took that risk, just because of my family and eligibility. I didn’t want to lose my senior season to eligibility and then be lost in the shuffle. HHC: Before we talk about your NBA career, can you give us a classic and colorful Danny Nee story or two to add to our collection? TF: (Laughs) There were so many that had me laughing, but I remember one time he was getting on Rich King about something when he said, “If you make that shot again, I’ll kiss your ass clear up to Macy’s store” and that was funny. And we were preparing for the game one time, and we always showed highlight tapes, and one of the highlights was Chris Cresswell dunking on me in practice. And, I never understood what that had to do with anything or why that was in there; he just seemed to randomly throw that in there (Laughs). There were lots of them, though. We used to call Pike the “Black Hole” because he never wanted to pass the ball when he was a freshman, and it was like a gift when you got it. HHC: (Laughs) Nice. Talk about some of your pro stops before ultimately ending up with the Charlotte Hornets in 1997. TF: When I first came out of Nebraska, I went to the CBA from 1991-1994, and then I went to France after that. And while I was in France, we went to the finals my first year and we did well. And then after that I had a chance to sign with the Miami Heat in 1995-1996. But to back track, when I came out of Nebraska, I was given a guaranteed contract by the Lakers even though I wasn’t drafted. Magic (Johnson) tested positive for HIV, and I had to go to the CBA since I was already getting the money guaranteed. Mike Dunleavy was the Head Coach and Randy Pfund was a top assistant. And after I was in Europe, Randy had been in contact with my agent, Mitch, and they wanted to keep an eye on me. So after I came back from France, Pfund had contacted Mitch and said they (the Lakers) wanted to work me out for three days. So, I flew down and worked out for three days, and they worked out 121 players, and Pat Riley (Miami Heat) came to Mitch and said they wanted to sign me, and I signed a guaranteed contract with them that year (1996) but then they waived me in January and I went back to Europe before ultimately signing with the Charlotte Hornets in 1997. And when I was with Charlotte, Bobby Phills went down with an ankle injury and I started a game against the Knicks, and after that, I left for the lockout and Golden State but they ultimately had to waive me. (Editors Note: To put it shortly, Farmer played in the CBA in 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, and 1996-1997. He played in France in 1992-1993, 1994-1995, and 1995-1996. He played in Charlotte in 1997-1998 and Golden State in 1999-2000) HHC: Talk about that season with Charlotte in 1997-1998, and tell us about some of your teammates and favorite memories there? TF: My favorite memories were my first start on Halloween night against the Knicks, and I looked at the lineup, and it was Glen Rice, Anthony Mason, Vlade Divac, David Wesley and I. And I had been really been close to Glen and he was really instrumental in me getting to Charlotte, so that was nice. And then playing against the Heat was soon after that first start, and I had 11 points and 5 rebounds which was great because I had a chance to show Pat Riley and them that I thought they had a mistake in releasing me. HHC: You finished your NBA career in 1999-2000 with the Golden State Warriors, and actually had the most success there, as you appeared in 74 games. How fun was that season? TF: That was one of the most fun pro years in the NBA because I made a big contribution. Actually, that was probably the funnest for me because I had a chance to have a break out season and I ended up signing back with Charlotte for 3 years after that season, but the GM didn’t like the fact that Coach Paul Silas had signed me again since I went to play in Europe after asking the Hornets for my release the previous year. So, the GM wouldn’t approve my contract and I went to Greece and Russia, and I retired after Russia because I was going through a divorce and I had two young kids. And ever since then, I’ve been doing ABA stuff and helped start the Salt Lake City team out here and am part owner and player, but now I’m getting ready to move back out to California. But, I still get calls all the time to play, because I’m 36 and still in great shape. But that’s not going to happen because I’m moving to San Diego in about three weeks. HHC: Talk about some of your favorite teammates and memories of the NBA? TF: One of my favorite memories was having a chance to work out with Karl Malone all summer during the lockout and the next summer, too. Ike Austin still lives here (Salt Lake City) and we are good friends. Glen was one of my favorites, too, because I have never seen a guy work that hard and stay that good for that long of a time. I also remember playing against the Lakers and having 10 and 15 while having to guard Shaq. I also had a great game against Portland once where I had 18 points and 7 rebounds when they had (Scottie) Pippen, (Detlef) Scrempf, and (Jermaine) O’Neill. HHC: Finally, what is Tony Farmer up to today? TF: Right now I’m a mortgage broker, which I do in 45 states. I’ve been self-employed the past year and I’m relocating to San Diego because there are some opportunities and I want to be close to my family. I was married for 5 years but have been divorced for the last 3. I have two children; Londyn is my son and is 5, and TaSia is my daughter and is 4 and now starting school. And her mom lives here in Utah, so I’ll fly back every other weekend and see the kids. But I’m opening up my business out there, and that’s where I’ll end up retiring. HHC: And are you cool with taking some e-mails at [email protected] if we tell you how to check it? TF: Definitely. HHC: Awesome. Anything you’d like to add? TF: Well, unfortunately I couldn’t make the 1990-1991 team reunion last February because I had a big press conference here, and being one of the owners and marquee players with the team, I couldn’t get away. But I want to say that I appreciate the hospitality and everything while we were there, and you guys helping to put together the reunion was great, and hopefully we can have a big reunion and an alumni game sometime and all play. Heck, maybe we can even play against the team from right now, and we might even beat them with me, Beau, and Pike, and some of those guys that still play. I still think I can play, because I played in the ABA this year with Dennis Rodman and some of those guys, and I had a triple double by my third game. Then you’ve got Pike… Man, we might drop 60 together on them (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) That’s hilarious. I think Beau would play in that game in a hurry, too (Laughs). Thanks a lot for your time Tony. TF: I appreciate it Dave, thanks for running this site and take care.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  11. 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">
  12. Then & Now: Willard Fagler Compiled By Dave Brandon Nebraska Basketball Hall of Famer Willard Fagler played for the Huskers from 1952-1955 for Coaches Harry Good (1947-1954, 86-99) and Jerry Bush (1955-1963, 81-132). A 6’6” center from Harvard, Fagler led the team in scoring his senior year (13.6 PPG), and was often paired under the basket with such former Husker big men as Bill Johnson and Rex Ekwall. Fagler is our latest guest in this Sunday's edition of "Then & Now." HHC: Thanks for joining us. What was your high school career like at Harvard (Nebraska) High School? WF: Well, we had a pretty good basketball team but we were a Class C school and we never made it to the state tournament. But, I made All-State two years for Class C. HHC: And, before we flashback, how did you manage to play four years of varsity basketball at a time when most were forced to play a year on the freshman team? WF: Well because at that time it was during, I guess, the Korean War, and a couple of years in there they let freshman play and we were eligible to play four years. HHC: Ah, okay. And as a high school senior in 1951, what made you choose to play basketball at the University of Nebraska? WF: I got recruited by Coach Harry Good, and really at the time, I didn’t think I wanted to go to school, but he kept after me, and I finally decided I’d go and give it a try. But he called a couple of times and I also got two or three letters from him stating what the university could offer and what they could give me to come play at the University of Nebraska. But it was nothing like it is now, for sure (Laughs). HHC: (Laugh) That’s probably a good thing, huh? WF: Yeah, I suppose you’re right (Laughs). HHC: Like you said, Harry Good was the Head Coach when you first arrived at Nebraska. What was he like and was he held in high regard? WF: I thought Harry Good was a very nice individual. He was a good coach, and I think everyone on the team liked him. But, you know that if you don’t win, it’s just like anything else, and sooner or later they are going to make changes. HHC: What style and brand of basketball did he believe in playing? WF: When I was there, I played forward and center for him, and we had a triangle offense that we ran. He didn’t zone; we played man-to-man. But, it was just a little bit slower pace back then than it is now. HHC: What are some of your favorite memories of him? WF: The thing that I always remembered about Coach Good, and this included Mrs. Good as well, is that they always had the basketball team out to their house for Thanksgiving and Christmas if we had to have games or practice. They were always very nice to the players on the team. HHC: Before we get into some of your specific years, what was it like playing in the Coliseum back then? WF: You know, back then, they drew a curtain across one end of it so we’d have the fans basically right next to us on the court, and it always seemed like they were right on top of you. But this wasn’t just at Nebraska, but also everywhere else back then, because they didn’t have the big coliseums like they do now. I can also remember road trips where some universities had the fans even closer than the Coliseum; they were right on top of you. HHC: 1951-1952 was your first season at Nebraska, and the team went 7-17 (3-9, 7th). However, one positive was that Jim Buchanan earned All-American honors (16.7 PPG) and was a first team All-Big Seven pick. How good was he, and what kind of man was he? WF: He was a very good ball player, and probably, in fact, one of the better ball players I played with. To me, he was a terrific individual. Jimmy was a guard, and probably about 6’1”. I was coming in as a freshman, and Jimmy more or less took me under his wing and taught me quite a few things on how to play basketball and get accustomed to the university life. So, I think he’s a great person. HHC: 1952-1953 was your sophomore year, and the team went 9-11 (4-8, 6th). You guys did beat #5 Kansas State at home (80-67) that year, and Bill Johnson was your leading scorer (13.9 PPG) and rebounder (9.4 RPG). What do you remember about that year? WF: Well, I remember that we started out and thought we’d have a real good year (Editors Note: They were 8-5), and then something happened, and you know, it just didn’t gel after we got about halfway through the season. But, I still had a lot of fun playing and representing the university. HHC: Anything about that Kansas State win stick out? WF: No, not really, except that we played really hard that night trying to win, and things like that. But that’s been a long time ago. HHC: Talk more about Bill Johnson and Rex Ekwall, who were the other key big men during your times at Nebraska. WF: Well, Bill was probably the tallest person on the team at that time, and he was a good individual, and has always tried to keep up with everybody on the team. In fact, last time everybody got together from our teams, he put together an event at one of the games at the Bob Devaney (Sports Center). So, he does a very good job of keeping up with everyone. Rex was another one of these players that came from a small town in Nebraska and was an excellent ball player. He and I roomed together and had a good time, and we still see each other every now and then if I go back to a basketball game, because he is there and supports Nebraska basketball very good just like Bill. HHC: 1953-1954 was your junior season, and the team went 8-13 (5-7, T-4th). That year was the last for Harry Good. Was this because of lack of wins, or was winning emphasized less back then? WF: I think the lack of wins was some of it, but I also think that at the time, the Athletic Director, who I believe was Bill Orwig, wanted to go in a different direction than what the program was going in. HHC: How did Coach Good leaving make you feel? WF: Well, anytime you play for someone for three, four years, and they are going to be replaced, you are always antsy about what is going to happen the next year, as far as how are you going to fit into schemes and things. So, it was just a “let’s wait and see what Coach Bush wants.” But as I said before, Coach Good treated me very fairly and I respect him very much. HHC: Prior to your senior season of 1954-1955, Jerry Bush was hired as Head Coach. Do you recall any other candidates for the job besides him? WF: No. In fact, I think it was when we found out that we had a new coach was the day he was introduced to us, and that was it. We had never heard of whom they were interviewing or anything. It was a little bit different than it is now. HHC: What was your initial impression of Bush, who came to Nebraska from Toledo (7 years at Toledo, 129-59)? WF: I don’t know if you know this or not, but he did play professional basketball for awhile, so he knew the game of basketball and it was a more up beat, up tempo game when he got there from what we had been used to before. So, I think all of us enjoyed it a little bit more. We still played our man-to-man defense. HHC: What kind of man was Jerry Bush? WF: Coach Bush was very energetic. When you went to practice, you had better put out 100%, because if you didn’t, you would be running laps and steps in the Coliseum. So, his practices were always upbeat, and he was always upbeat. He just wanted you to feel like you were winners all the time and you could beat anyone, and that’s really what I remember about him. HHC: Your last year (1954-1955) saw a record of 9-12 (6-6, T-3rd), while you led the team in scoring by averaging 13.6 PPG. What sticks out about that year? WF: We went and we played Colorado, and they beat us by 30 points or something like that (Editors Note: Colorado 89, Nebraska 47). But then they came back to Lincoln and we turned around and won by about 10 (84-77) against them, and that was probably one of the best ball games that we had that year. But gee, you’re really taxing my memory now (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) Who were some of the best ball players you ever competed against? WF: Well, the first one would be Clyde Lovellette from the University of Kansas. He was a senior when I was a freshman and went on and made All-American two or three years. He was born just tall; he was about 7’0”. And then BH Born from Kansas, too. Dick Knostman (guard) from Kansas State was great, along with Burdette Haldorson (6’7” center) from Colorado, and then the one and only Norm Stewart from Missouri, who was an excellent ball player. The most famous person would have been Dean Smith, who was a senior the year I was a freshman, but he never started for Kansas. They had a set of twins that played guard, and he was the third guard on the team. HHC: What do you feel was your biggest shot or play that you ever made while in a Nebraska uniform? WF: I never really kept up with stuff like that. I was just out there to play basketball. HHC: Fair enough. And what are your favorite memories of UNL? WF: I guess one of them would be being voted into the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame. Another is being married and having two sons that have nice families. And I guess my older granddaughter signing a basketball scholarship at North Georgia College, which is a Division II school. HHC: Did you stay in touch with any coaches or teammates after leaving, and do you know of anyone passing away? WF: Mostly Bill Johnson and Rex Ekwall. I don’t know of anyone that has passed away. I think the ones that I played with are all still living unless some have just passed away recently and I haven’t heard about it, but most generally, my sister lets me know because she still lives in Lincoln. HHC: Do you get a chance to follow the current program? WF: Well, I follow the football team if its on television and things like that, and same with basketball, but down here in the south, we usually get SEC and ACC ball games. But every now and then, we get Big 12 on ESPN2 HHC: And what have you been up to since 1955, and where will we find you today? WF: I went into the Army for two years and played basketball there at Fort Gordon, Georgia, where I met my wife. After I got out, I came back to UNL and finished school and started working in the agricultural fertilizer and chemical industry, and did that my whole life up until I retired about five years ago in Savannah, Georgia. HHC: And if we set you up an e-mail account, would you be willing to take some e-mails from our readers? WF: No, I don’t really use the Internet, I’m sorry. HHC: Not a problem. Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to say or add? WF: No, I don’t believe so, but it’s been a pleasure talking to you and thank you for calling.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  13. Then & Now: Trent Scarlett Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Trent Scarlett played at Nebraska from 1982-1983, and was part of the first NIT team that Moe Iba coached in 1983. A 6'6" forward from Las Vegas, Nevada, Scarlett saw his teams go a combined 38-22 (.633) while in Lincoln. Scarlett is our latest guest in this Sunday's edition of "Then & Now." HHC: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Have you been back to Lincoln since leaving in 1983? TS: I’ve only been back once, and I came back the next fall when I was driving with a friend of mine to a school in Missouri. HHC: When is the last time you saw Nebraska play, and do you follow them at all? TS: Oh yeah. Follow them all the time. HHC: How healthy do you think the program is as compared to when you played? TS: I think when Coach (Danny) Nee was there it was higher than when I played. I think it’s probably taken a couple of steps back since then, and that’s from me not being real close to it, but from reading and watching, that’s what I think. Actually, it might even be very similar as to when I got there. They hadn’t and haven’t been to the tournament in awhile. I remember prior to my sophomore year that there were quite a few local kids that were very highly recruited, too, and that we ended up only getting one of them, which I think was kind of disappointing to Nebraskans. HHC: That actually does sound pretty similar. Now, let’s get back to you. You came to Nebraska from Bonanza High School (Las Vegas), where you started all four years in basketball and averaged 22.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG as a senior (1981). Who else besides Nebraska was recruiting you? TS: I was being recruited by Weber State, Washington State, and Brown University. HHC: And what made you choose to play basketball at Nebraska? TS: Actually, I liked the people a lot. Coach Tom Baack was the one who recruited me the most, and he was probably the most influential. Coach (Charlie) Spoonhour, when I got there, was great too. I’ve stayed in contact with him, actually. He’s coached here in Vegas the last few years at UNLV, and while he’s not anymore, I’ve run into him a few times and we’ve had some conversations. HHC: What was the perception of Nebraska basketball at that time to a kid in Las Vegas? TS: I didn’t know a whole lot about it. But it was Big 8 at that time, so perception wise, I was going to a really good conference and to a program that I thought was in the building mode. HHC: How was your relationship with Moe Iba? TS: Well, I didn’t have a very close relationship with him. Probably, I would say he was a distant coach. My close relationships were with Coach Baack and Spoonhour, as I mentioned before. But Iba was very, very knowledgeable about basketball, but kind of distant as a person. HHC: 1981-1982 was your first year at Nebraska, and the team went 16-12 (7-7, T-4th). One of the highlights of that season was beating #1 and 19-0 Missouri on their home court by a score of 67-51. What do you remember about that game? TS: I remember that game quite vividly, actually. It was at Missouri, and we jumped on them early and never looked back. Actually, if I’m not mistaken, first time down the court they went into Steve Stipanovich and he tried a little jump hook, and I think Terry Moore blocked the shot right back in his face. We never looked back. We’d had a close game with them earlier in the year at our place (44-42 loss), so going down there and winning was pretty fun and definitely a highlight. HHC: And what else sticks out about your freshman season? TS: Of course our first game in college, when we went to Wyoming and got beat pretty badly (62-48). But they had a really good team that year, so that game sticks out. Playing Arkansas was a game that sticks out as well (51-50 Home Loss). Just traveling in general, really. We had a pretty brutal Christmas trip that year, I’ll never forget that (at Penn State, Colorado State, Air Force, Northern Iowa). HHC: Jack Moore was a senior that year and earned the Naismith Award while also earning First Team All-Big 8 and Third Team All-American honors. How would you describe him as both a player and person? TS: Unbelievable competitor. Jack was 5’9” and just tough as nails. He was probably another big reason why I came to Nebraska. When I went on my visit, I spent some time with him and his wife Dorothy, and I really enjoyed him as a person. And as a player, he was pretty outstanding too, with what he was able to accomplish with the physical tools he had. HHC: 1982-1983 was your sophomore and last season at Nebraska, and the team finished 22-10 (9-5, T-3rd) while reaching the semifinals of the NIT. Before we talk about the NIT run, tell us what you remember about playing in the Hoosier Classic that year, where you guys played #1 Indiana (67-50 loss) and #11 Arkansas (64-58 loss)? TS: I remember meeting Coach (Bob) Knight; that was pretty cool. We got beat pretty badly by Indiana, as you said, but I remember Market Square Arena, where we played at. That was a fun experience. HHC: And what sticks out about that NIT run? TS: Just going to New York was new and amazing because I’d never been there before. I’ve been back a couple times since. I remember the city was kind of dirty (Laughs). It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, as where I grew up and lived in Las Vegas was relatively new. I remember the hotel we stayed in was supposed to be this beautiful hotel, and I thought it was a dump. But it was a fun trip. HHC: What made you choose to leave the program at the end of that season? TS: I wasn’t happy with the opportunities. And I also missed home, and wanted to get back closer. I didn’t see a future for me there that I would be happy with, so that’s why I left. After that, I went to Weber State for a year, and redshirted a year there for Coach Neil McCarthy, and I ended up leaving there the next year and going down and finishing up at the time, an NAIA school, Southern Utah. I played there for two years before finishing up. HHC: Any regrets about leaving Nebraska? TS: All in all, I’m very happy with where I’m at in my life. However, if I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t have left. Probably would have stuck out, but I don’t have any regrets in leaving, if that makes any sense. I met my wife up in Cedar City, and we have three children and things are going well. HHC: Were you and Moe Iba able to leave on good terms? TS: Yeah, I don’t know. I never had any run-ins with him; he was just kind of distant. And I wasn’t really outgoing at that time of my life, so basically, I just walked in there and told him I was going to leave, and at the time, I didn’t even know where I was going, I just knew I wasn’t going to be there. So, there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation. I probably talked to Coach Baack first and then Coach Iba. HHC: In your opinion, what was the biggest shot or play that you made while in a Nebraska uniform? TS: We went down to Kansas State my sophomore year and I played quite a bit and got into the game late, scoring I think 8 points. It was fun, and while it was only a couple of minutes and nothing earth shattering, just a fun experience. HHC: And what are your favorite memories of your times in Lincoln, both on and off the court? TS: Just the people there are great. At the time, we had Lincoln parents, which were a home away from home you could go to, and that was really neat. Richard and Juanita Campus were my Lincoln parents, and that was great. Everybody from the fans to the staff to the administration were really good people. HHC: Do you stay in touch with any of your old teammates? TS: My roommate was Brett Hughes, but I haven’t talked to him in 5 or 6 years. We stayed in touch quite a bit for the first 15 or 20 years, but it’s been awhile. Other than that, I haven’t spoken with anybody. Of course Jack passed away, but he died when I was at Weber State. HHC: At the time you left in 1983, was the fan base already starting to whine about Moe Iba's style of play, and did you get the feeling he was on the hot seat at all or starting to get forced out? TS: Yeah, I didn’t think they were real happy when I got there or when I left. They have such high expectations for their athletic program at Nebraska, whether its football or whatever. And I didn’t feel like they were happy. HHC: Finally, what are you up to today, and what have you been doing the last 20 years? TS: Well I live in Las Vegas, and I moved back here after I graduated from Southern Utah. I work for an underground utility company and am an operations manager there. I’ve got a wife, and we are raising three great kids. We just had a 20th anniversary, actually, and I have a son who is going to be a junior in college, while my other son is going to be a sophomore in high school and my daughter will be in 8th grade. Basically what we’re doing is being married and raising our kids. HHC: Are you still playing any basketball? TS: I play about once a year, that’s all (Laughs). I’ve had operations on both knees. But I do softball, bowling, golf, and some of those low impact sports. HHC: Very nice! And would you be willing to take some e-mails from our readers if we set you up an account at [email protected] and tell you how to check it? TS: Sure, that’d be great. HHC: Awesome! Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to say or add? TS: No, not really. Just that I appreciate the call.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  14. 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">
  15. 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">
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