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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">
  16. Then & Now: Larry Cox Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Nebraska Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Cox played for the Huskers from 1974-1976, and is the all-time leader in field goal percentage at Nebraska (.672). Cox also was the Big 8's all-time leader in the same category. Cox, who is 44th on the all-time Husker scoring list (757 points), is a former Academic All-Big 8 in addition to his accomplishments on the court under the late Joe Cipriano. The 6'6" Cox, who played center at Nebraska, is our latest guest in this Sunday's edition of "Then & Now". HHC: Welcome aboard. When was the last time you talked some Nebraska basketball? LC: Oh golly, a longtime. I think its been years. Every once in awhile, it comes up around here (Indiana) because Jack Moore is from Muncie, and Brian Carr coaches around here in the high school ranks. Actually, just this morning, a guy came up to me while I was working out and said, “You know Jack Moore is from around here and Brian Carr is still in town.” So, it does come up from time to time, but not much. HHC: You came to Nebraska in 1972, and arrived from Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver (Colorado) where you were an All-City performer. What made you choose Nebraska, and who else recruited you? LC: I was recruited by the University of Missouri and Colorado. But, some place in the middle of the recruitment process, both of them decided I wasn’t big enough and quick enough, so they dropped off somewhere in my senior year, and Nebraska was really the only one that stuck with me all the way through. HHC: Phil Chambers, Rickey Harris, and yourself were all from Denver and played at the same time. Was that pure coincidence, or was there some sort of connection from one of the coaches? LC: Well, Lonnie Porter was one of the assistants, along with Moe (Iba), and he was from a high school (Manual High School) in Denver. He didn’t have anything to do with me, but definitely Phil Chambers and Rickey Harris were his connections. HHC: What was the perception of Nebraska basketball back then to a high school kid from Denver? LC: (Laughs) I was really naïve. I knew nothing outside of my own city. I didn’t even know that Nebraska had been #1 in football the year before, so I had no perception of anything anywhere. I actually thought Nebraska was somewhere around Arkansas, and I thought I was going someplace warm. And I showed up on campus my first winter and said, “What did I do to myself here?” (Laughs) But as it turned out, it was a great choice for me, but I had no perceptions before. HHC: Talk about the late Joe Cipriano, both as a man and basketball coach. LC: I really liked Joe. Joe was funny and always doing extravagant things. He was just kind of a dandy… Sort of always thinking about stuff. He always seemed to buy new shoes, and I got along with him real well. He was good at recruiting and good at public relations, and just a nice man. I was sorry to see him pass. And, I had a pretty good relationship with his son, Randy. As far as on the court, I think he was influenced quite a bit by Moe Iba’s style. Moe brought the theory to the basketball team and made sure we played tough defense. Joe, I think, emulated Bobby Knight somewhat with that style of play. Of course we never had the talent or size of Indiana schools, but he was a good coach and very flamboyant, and fun, to play for. HHC: What are your favorite memories of him? LC: One of my favorite memories was one time he got real upset and things weren’t going our way, and he went on the court and was circling in this pinkish/purple sports coat, and he swinging it over his head and got a technical foul, which I think was at Kansas, who he especially hated. Actually, he’d made us go out during the “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant and have us go around the Jayhawk during that and dribble just to get them to boo, and he’d go talk to them and egg them on more. HHC: (Laughs) Classic. You were a little bit undersized to be a center at 6'6", but led the Huskers in rebounding in 1976 and led the Big 8 in field goal percentage in 1975. What made you play bigger than you were? LC: Hmm… That’s a great question. I think I was really a role player and our offense was a very set offense. So, as long as you told me where to go or whom I was supposed to pass to, I was okay. I was never really a good one on one or individual player, like Marsh or any of those guys. I was a role player, and I tried to do what the coaches said. And, Coach Iba had us playing good defense and in good position for rebounds, and so I just tried to follow the plan. HHC: Your first year at Nebraska was 1972-1973, and it was spent on the JV team, where you averaged 19.4 PPG and 16.5 RPG. At that time, were you forced to play on the JV team one year before you could play varsity, or what was the reason for you not being on varsity? LC: What happened was they had some really talented guys ahead of me. They had Ron Taylor, he was 6’10”. Mark… from Iowa… I think it was Enright, and he was there that year. And then I think Brendy Lee was still there, and Don Jackson. So, they had some people ahead of me, and I was like the fourth center. Playing on the JV was a way of keeping me active and playing. HHC: 1973-1974 was your first year on the varsity team, and you guys went 14-12 (7-7). You averaged 7.0 PPG and 4.4 RPG, and the team got to travel to Italy following the season for three weeks, where you guys went 2-5. What was that experience like? LC: You know, I didn’t even make the trip. I opted out and missed out, and heard it was quite a trip. Lots of Bob Siegel stories about monks and monasteries, lots of things, but I wasn’t there (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) In 1974-1975, you guys again went 14-12 (7-7), and lost three Big 8 games by a combined four points. Individually, you led the Big 8 in field goal percentage, and the team in free throws. What do you remember about that year? LC: They all blend together now, all those years… Boy. (Long Pause) I guess I remember the sense at the end of the year that we were improving and getting better, and that we were close. And I enjoyed that year especially because Kent Reckewey and Steve Erwin were older, and just being around them and having those friendships. HHC: 1975-1976 was your last year at Nebraska, and the team went 15-14 (7-7), while you led the team in field goal percentage, rebounds, and free throw shooting. Your team also led the Big 8 in scoring defense and finished eighth nationally. What made that team so good defensively, and how big of a role did Assistant Coach Moe Iba play in that? LC: I think we played a very tough, aggressive defense, and we slowed the ball down. We played hard-nosed, man-to-man defense, and especially for a post on the inside, we worked a lot at not getting caught or pinned by the big man. I was always moving around and trying not to get touched or pinned with an elbow so we could steal the ball and keep them from it, so we spent a lot of time on defense. HHC: You finished your career as the Big 8's all-time leader in field goal percentage. What made you such a good finisher, and how big of an honor was that? LC: It was a tremendous honor. And the funny thing is people think of the percentage that I made, but if you think about where I was shooting from, the question is how could I have missed 33% of those? (Laughs) They were all put backs and dump offs, and I was trying to tell my son that I don’t remember a single move I ever put on somebody. All my scoring was offensive rebounds and put backs. HHC: (Laughs) You are way too modest. LC: It’s the truth (Laughs). The question is, how did I miss 33% of those shots?!? HHC: After fifty years, the Coliseum also saw its last year of basketball in 1975-1976. Talk about what it was like playing there. LC: Oh, it was a wonderful place to play because it was awful. You go into the new stadiums and they are so comfortable, and it’s almost like watching a movie. At the barn, it was uncomfortable to sit, and so people stood, and they were so tightly packed into the bleachers. And I remember they used to put the big bass drum behind the opposing teams so that the band made the opposing team not hear. And, you had to move the fans on the side when they’d pass the ball in, and fans would pinch the players and pull on their shorts, it was great. When the place was full, it just rocked, and you just don’t get the sense from the new stadiums. There’s just something about playing in an old place that is great. HHC: What are your favorite memories of Nebraska, both on and off the court? LC: The one I get the most mileage out of is when we played the University of Indiana in the Indiana Classic in 1975. And, at the end of the game at Indiana, if you lose by 20 points, fans can take their ticket to McDonald’s and get a hamburger. And, if you lose by 30, they get a hamburger and fries. And with 5 minutes let, the fans were chanting “burgers, fries, and shake, to go,” “burgers, fries, and shake, to go”. And the funny thing was that at the end of the game, Joe wouldn’t give as much as money to eat if we lost. Usually we’d get $7.00, but we’d only get $3.00 if we lost. So, we got $3.00 that night, and we were trying to figure out what to eat, when somebody said, “I wonder if we go to McDonalds, if they would give us a burger, shake, and fries, to go” since we don’t have money. So we go, and you’ve got 6’5”, 6’6”, and 6’7” kids standing there, so obviously we’re a basketball team, and the kid behind the counter cracked up because he knew that we were trading in for our burger, shake, and fries. So anytime my kid asks me if we were any good, I say “yes, we held the opposing team to less than a Happy Meal.” HHC: (Laughs) That is priceless. LC: (Laughs) Off the court, my favorite memories were that I was very involved with the Campus Christian group at the time (the Navigators), and that was a highlight. I learned a lot about myself and my relationship with God, and it was a very meaningful time for me. HHC: When was the last time you were back in Lincoln, and do you still keep in touch with anyone you met while in college? LC: I do keep in touch with people, mostly my Navigator friends. Last time I was there was the Hall of Fame Induction in 2000, and I brought my family, as we were living in Kansas City at the time. I read a lot of your articles and actually just e-mailed Jerry yesterday, but I hadn’t talked to him in probably ten years, and I think he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame last time I saw him, and I came down for that and talked to him. HHC: And what has Larry Cox been up to the past thirty years, and where will we find him today? LC: After graduation, I joined a non-denominational Christian organization called “The Navigators”, taking campus ministry positions at Iowa State University and then Drake University. After eight years in the ministry, my wife and I moved to Denver to start a business selling industrial oils, greases and filtration products along Colorado’s front range. We moved back to Lincoln in 1987 where I started graduate school in 1989. I completed my PhD at Nebraska in 1995, and have essentially been a business professor and/or entrepreneurship center director since then. I’ve taught at Florida International University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and at the University of Wisconsin. I’ve also worked at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. I’m currently an Associate Professor and Entrepreneurship Center Director at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. My wife, Elly, teaches special education at an elementary school. My oldest daughter is a junior on the crew team at the University of Wisconsin. My second daughter will be attending Wisconsin next year. My son is a junior at Muncie Central High School (Jack Moore’s alma mater), and my youngest daughter is a 7th grader. HHC: If we set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] , are you game with taking some e-mails and questions from our readers? LC: Oh sure. HHC: Great. Thanks a lot for your time, and anything else you'd like to add? LC: No, I think you covered it all. Thanks a lot for the interview.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  17. Then & Now: Tom Scantlebury Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Nebraska Basketball Hall of Famer Tom Scantlebury played for Nebraska from 1968-1970, and is 27th on the school's all-time scoring list (965 points). An excellent free throw shooter out of the guard position, Scantlebury led the 1969-1970 Huskers in scoring average at 14.5 PPG, and played with Nebraska Basketball Hall of Famers Chuck Jura, Marvin Stewart, Stuart Lantz, and Tom Baack, as well as under Husker Hall of Famer Joe Cipriano. Scantlebury is our latest guest in this Sunday’s edition of "Then & Now." HHC: Before we talk about your career at Nebraska, walk us through your background. Where did you play high school ball at, and what brought you to Lincoln? TS: I grew up in Oakland, California, and I was All-City in high school, and All-Bay Area in Northern California. And, I was recruited quite a few places, and I chose Nebraska because at the time, they were rated 11th in the nation, and they were at some point 7th when they beat Kansas that season, but then Kansas ended up beating them and won the Big 8 that year, which was 1966, or the year of the Glory Road movie. HHC: Aw, right on. Tell us what the perception of Nebraska basketball was like back then to a high school kid like you? TS: They were out there, and they played Cal Berkley two games in a row, and I saw one of the games and that’s when they had Stu Lantz, Nate Branch, and Willie Campbell. And, I think they split, but they played a high jumping, fast breaking game, and that was the type of game that was suited for me. HHC: Describe "Slippery Joe" Cipriano, both as a coach and a person? TS: I think as a person, he was definitely a character. He was always doing the practical jokes. I remember playing the Mexican National Team down in Mexico City after my freshman year, and him shooting off the halftime gun, which was an actual starter’s pistol, and then chasing the referees with a towel and swatting at them. (Laughs) So just a total character. As a coach, he was very well organized and had very good assistant coaches. He knew how to win, and he knew how to get the results that he needed to get. I did feel that my senior year especially, we had three people lost to academics, but I thought we had a good chance to be Top 10 that year otherwise. HHC: What was your relationship like with Coach? TS: Up and down. When I first got there and was a freshman, I was in a Sports Illustrated article as the top freshman in the country. And it seemed like after that, that he didn’t want me to get a big head for a brief time, so he was always trying to keep me in check, so to speak. So it was up and down until my senior year, and about then, that’s when I think his true personality came out. I think if we were the same age we would have been best buddies. I think I matured a lot at the time of my senior year, and he had more confidence in me. I really enjoyed that year. HHC: Since most of our readers don't know much about you as a player, describe Tom Scantlebury in your own words. TS: I was 6’3 and a ½, 190 pounds, played guard, and occasionally forward. I was a running type of player, a good jumper, hanging in the air, that type of thing. I liked to drive and shoot from the outside, kind of a slasher and outside jump shooter. HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was 1967-1968, and the team finished 15-10 with a 3rd place Big 8 finish. You played with some great players that year, but before we get to that, tell us what it meant to win the Big 8 Holiday Title? TS: Back then, and I don’t know when the Big 8 post-season tournament started, but back then, they had a Christmas tournament. So, we’d have our pre-season games, and we’d play about 8 or 9, and then we’d play the Big 8 tournament, which would be three games. There was a game for 5th, 3rd, 1st, etc. I remember we beat Oklahoma the first game that season, and then Oklahoma State when Henry Iba coached, and he ran his passing game and there was no shot clock, so they took about 2 minutes off of the clock every possession, and we beat them in a very close game. And we beat Kansas State for the championship. It was just a wonderful thing. I don’t think we were rated in the Top 20, but we got to the point where it said “also receiving votes”. And then we started off the Big 8, and I know we lost our first two games, which were on the road. But then we won our next six in a row and it looked like we were heading toward the championship, and then we just kind of floundered. We were 8-4 and ended up 8-6 after losing our last two games, so we ended up 3rd. I wouldn’t say it was a failure of a year, but we could have done better. HHC: Now, onto the great players you played with your first season. Stuart Lantz and Tom Baack were both on that team, and that marked the first time in NU history that two 1,000 point scorers were on the team at the same time. What was it like playing with them, and what did you learn? TS: When I started playing, the freshman were ineligible, so I was kind of used to practicing and playing against them my freshman year. But being on there team was an extreme honor. Both of them were averaging 18, 19 points a game. They were very consistent. Stu Lantz was very athletic, and I know we used to have jumping contests, and he could get 11 and a ½, 11 and 10 inches up there, and he was about my height, about 6’3”. Stu was a very good shooter, very athletic, and played pro for ten years. Baack was one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen, and was out of Indiana. It had its ups and downs playing with them, because I was kind of a 3rd option, but I did learn a lot from playing with those guys. HHC: Who were some other players back then that were great in the Big 8? TS: Oh, Jojo White played at Kansas, right when I started my sophomore year. Colorado had Pat Frank, and then you had Don Smith from Iowa State, Garfield Heard from Oklahoma, and I also played later on against Clifford Ray, who was a star center for Golden State. There were a lot of great players. On our team alone, we had Chuck Jura, who was the best center to come out and in my opinion, could have played in the NBA for a long time but chose instead to go to Italy. HHC: Talk more about having your picture in Sports Illustrated with the "outstanding freshman playing college basketball", especially since you were honored alongside a couple of half-way decent players in Calvin Murphy and Pete Maravich. TS: Well, I did have a chance to play in three college All-Star Games, averaging 24 points per game in those three, and played for the Midwest All-Stars at the end of my senior year. I got to play against Nate Archibald, Dave Cowens, Rudy Tomjanovich, and Pete Maravich was supposed to show up to that tournament, but he didn’t, although his father was the coach. There were a lot of great players that year. HHC: (Laughs) Was your hair really as wild and crazy back then as everyone says? TS: They said that? (Laughs) HHC: Someone did, I think it was (Chuck) Jura. TS: Really? Well, I didn’t have a lot of money to get a haircut back then (Laughs). But really, I don’t remember that so much. The 70’s, people were wearing their hair longer with sideburns and stuff, man, but I never wore and never would wear a pony tail or anything like that. HHC: (Laughs) Hey, we have to ask the tough questions! Speaking of which, 1968-1969 saw a disappointing finish of 12-14 for your team, although you finished strong in Big 8 play, going 5-5 after beginning 0-4. What was the problem that season? TS: First of all, we didn’t have one senior on the team. It was kind of chaotic, because we started off the non-conference 5-1. We beat Michigan State, and then we went off to Phoenix to play in the Sun Devil Classic, and we played Cal and Arizona State, but we lost two close games there. And then we went to the Big 8 Tournament and we lost the first game to Kansas, and if I remember correctly, Coach Cipriano wanted us to stall because Kansas had this 1-3-1 that they called the “Jayhawker regular zone defense”, so there was no shot clock. So, Marvin Stewart and I were guards, and we were playing in front of 15,000 people, and I think we got the jump ball, and I just had the ball under my arm until everyone started booing so loud, and I threw it to Marvin and we just started to play catch. And the final score was super low, and they beat us, and that was the worst game I can remember being in, as far as embarrassing goes. After that, we won the next two games in the Big 8 tournament, and ended up in 5th place, and then we were just inconsistent. We beat Oklahoma, we beat some good teams, and then we’d be silly and lose close games. We just didn’t have any seniors or leadership. HHC: What was it like playing in the Coliseum back then? TS: Oh, I loved it. Everybody was up close and personal. I think it held 8,500 people, and it was extremely loud when games were close. It was a good floor, and it was a lot of fun. HHC: Your last season was 1969-1970, and you led the team in scoring at 14.5 PPG, while the team finished in a 3rd place Big 8 tie at 16-9. What sticks out about your senior season? TS: That was a year that I felt we could have been a Top 10 team, as I mentioned earlier. We had Marvin Stewart, who was later an All-Big 8 player, and a great player. He and Cliff Moller from New York City, and Jim Brooks from Akron Ohio, they all got the academic bad grades, and were ineligible. And I think if we would have had them, we would have won 20 games and gone over the top, and maybe won the Big 8 and gone to the NCAA’s. All in all, regardless of that, I still enjoyed that season. I was within one vote of making All-Big 8, as I made second-team All-Big 8, and made the Midwest All Star Team, like I said. Coach and I were getting along well and had respect for each other. And I really enjoyed playing with guys like Chuck Jura, Marvin Stewart, Cliff Moller, Jim Brooks, etc. Oh, and another player who was great was Leroy Chalk, who played in France for a number of years. He and Jura, Stewart, and Sam Martin were my best friends, and we all got along great. HHC: What do you remember most about your times at Nebraska, and when was the last time you made it back? TS: The last time was Veteran’s Day weekend, I went back to see my good friends Chuck Jura and Sam Martin. And Janet Jura and Leslie Martin, their wives, were also great to see. We flew back and stayed with Sam one day and one night, and Chuck the other two. And we went to a couple exhibition games, and we saw Creighton. Then we saw Chuck’s son play at UNK, and he’s a great player. Its too bad he didn‘t go to Nebraska, he would have really helped them, but I think he’s real happy with where he went. He’s a big strong kid, and he’ll play somewhere after college. Then I saw Nebraska play an exhibition game down there against Holy Family, and it was not a real pretty game to watch, but Nebraska’s doing pretty well lately, except when my wife Gayle and I were in Hawaii, and I know Nebraska had won their first two and lost to Iowa State. And they were playing Kansas in a national television game, and I almost said “let’s go to a bar and watch Nebraska play Kansas”, and then I thought something might go wrong and I didn’t wan to embarrass myself, and that was like a 45 point game, so I’m glad I chose like I did. HHC: (Laughs) Did you get a chance to play any professional basketball after your career at Nebraska? TS: I signed a contact with the Milwaukee Bucks and went to veteran’s camp, and they had a 14-man roster, which I was on. And then as the exhibition season went on, and I got cut after they made a trade and brought in Lucious Allen, who played at UCLA with Lew Alcindor, and also Bob Boozer from Omaha. And then that was it for me. I played in the CBA for two years, and we won the CBA Championship, and I was All-CBA and scored 21 a game. And then I went to Australia and finished out the year, and then I wanted to get back over here. I could have stayed there for quite awhile, because I was scoring like 30 points a game, but I wanted to get into coaching, and I had a family and a daughter. And unless you were in the NBA back then, I didn’t see that being that financially beneficial, so I thought I’d just get on with my life. But I did play three years after college. HHC: And, what have you been up to the past thirty years, and where are you at today? TS: I coached in Nebraska in a small town called Fort Calhoun for four years, and then I took a job with Jostens, which is a yearbook/ring company. I did that for twenty-five years, and I just kind of retired early. It took three people to take my spot, so I figured I worked three times as hard as I should have, so I quit early. And then my wife retired, and we did that a couple years ago. I won’t tell you our ages now, because my wife’s in the room, but she’s younger than me, which she just pointed out. (Laughs) So I did all that, and I have never quit playing basketball. Chuck Jura, Sam Martin and I play for this team out of Chicago, and we were just up in Edmonton, Canada, and we won the world championship for over 50, and before that, we were in Australia. I played with these guys in Park City and Florida, and Australia, and Sydney again. And this guy out of Chicago pays for everything and puts us up in Five Star hotels. It’s great because there are lots of ex-NBA players that play, and they have World Games each year, and you can have a team for each group. I have two kids, Jason and Lisa. Jason played basketball, and also ran track and cross country in high school. Now he's an administrator of a business. Lisa ran cross country in her high school days and now she's an elementary school teacher, my wife also used to be a teacher, and Lisa is also the mother of a five-year-old girl. HHC: Awesome. Hey, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us. We've set you up an e-mail account at [email protected], and hope you will take some e-mails from the fans. Are you cool with that? TS: Yeah, definitely. It might take me awhile because I’ll have to use my daughters computer, but most definitely. HHC: Not a problem, this interview will be up for a long time! Is there anything you’d like to add before we let you go? TS: Well, we go to Europe once a year, my wife and I, and last time we went to Paris, we saw Leroy Chalk, and we’ve seen him a couple of times over there. He’s doing well, and I know he was the leading rebounder in Nebraska history at one point, but I know he’s been beaten out since then. But you’ve got to remember, we weren’t allowed to play as freshman. But anyway, thanks a lot for doing this, it’s been nice talking with you.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  18. Then & Now: Mike Naderer Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Mike Naderer played at Nebraska from 1978-1981, and is among the Top 60 scorers in NU history (657 points). Naderer started at guard for parts of each of the four seasons he played at Nebraska, and played for both Joe Cipriano and Moe Iba. Naderer is our latest Sunday guest on this edition of "Then & Now." HHC: Mike, thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with us. We've always wondered, where did your nickname of "Skater" come from? MN: Oh, I had some high school kids actually name me that. I don’t know if you remember Nate Archibald that played at UTEP, but his name was “Nate the Skate.” But anyway, that worked into Skater because it rhymed with Naderer, so it was pretty simple. Do you remember him? HHC: Yeah, I remember the name. MN: Yeah, he played for three or four NBA teams, Nate “Tiny” Archibald. Guys my age will remember who he was. HHC: You were one of the most heralded high school players in the southwest, as you came to Nebraska from Scottsdale, Arizona, after averaging 22 points, 12 assists, and 6 steals as a high school senior. What was your reason for coming to Nebraska, and what did you know about Husker Hoops before coming to Lincoln? MN: I actually had followed pretty much all of the basketball in the Midwest. One reason is that when I visited there, I was just really impressed with the new Bob Devaney Sports Center, which was like two years old at that time. But it was just great people, and the whole academic administration was tremendous back then. When they recruited me, they did a great job, and it felt like I was high on their list, so I had visited some other places, but when I visited there, they pretty much sold me on Lincoln. HHC: Talk to us about Joe Cipriano, as far as what kind of man he was, and how was your relationship with him? MN: He was a great man. I still am very good friends with his son today, and we see each other once a year or so. And Joe was the one who brought me in, and obviously gave me my first chance to start as a freshman, and had confidence enough in me that it worked out for me, because I got to play quite a bit those four years. He was just a great man, and he was the Dean of the Big 8 at the time, and having read on him when they were recruiting me from pamphlets they sent, he was probably the main reason that I attended the University of Nebraska. HHC: As a coach, how would you describe Joe Cipriano and what he believed in? MN: You know, I wasn’t really big in stature, if you remember, and he was probably the same way when he played in college. He gave me a lot of confidence and said that “you don’t measure what’s inside people, as far as the heart,” and he gave me my first shot. He was very firm and stern, but also very fair, and gave his players free reign within the system, and gave everyone an equal shot, and I think that’s all you can ask for from any coach. HHC: Your freshman year at Nebraska was 1977-1978, and you started 16 of the 28 games while "battling the flu" half of the season. How did that hinder you, and what exactly did you have? MN: Well, I got my first start the very first game against Missouri Southern and played pretty well. And then I started like the next 14 or 15, and then my only two games that I missed in my entire career were that year and due to the flu. I remember coming back from the Oklahoma State trip and it knocked me down, and I battled it for the next week or two, but I did get to play quite a bit that last half of the year. And I’ll tell you what, we had a good team that year, and that was before they enlarged the tournament to the field of 64, and if it were today’s game, we probably would have been in the NCAA had it been larger. But yeah, my freshman year was probably out most successful overall. HHC: Let’s talk a little bit more about that year. For the season, you guys finished 22-8, making the school's first post-season appearance (2nd Round of NIT) since 1966-1967. On that team were players like Brian Banks and Carl McPipe. Talk about how special it was playing with those guys, and what you remember from that year? MN: I came in and played alongside Brian, and I felt that Brian, when he was a junior, was probably the best guard in the Big 8, and at both ends of the floor. There were some great ones with Darnell Valentine and Larry Blackman, but Brian was right up there. With Brian, I thought that I played against the best guard in the conference each day in practice. And Carl McPipe was a great inside post man at his size, as he was only about 6’6”. He wasn’t real big, but he did really rebound well, and shot the ball midrange real well. Terry Novak, who is one of my best friends to this day, was one of the small forwards on that team, and he was just such a great role player. And we had Curt Hedberg and Andre Smith, who was also a freshman alongside me, and we did most of the playing from the freshman standpoint. But all those guys were great to play with, and it was a great team that meshed together, and I think we were like 11-0 or 12-0 before we lost one, and maybe made the Top 20 that year, although we ended up losing to Texas in the second round of the NIT, though they went on to win the NIT. All in all, it was a great year, going away from home and having success that early in my career. HHC: 1978-1979 was your sophomore season, and you started all but three games in the Husker backcourt on a team that went 14-13. The strength of that team was defense, which you ranked ninth nationally in, and first in the Big 8. How much of that defensive success was due to Moe Iba? MN: Probably 100% of it. Coach Cipriano had really let Moe take over the reigns coaching wise at that time, especially defensive schemes in practice. Moe was such a great defensive coach, and he demanded it number one, and you pretty much didn’t play at the University of Nebraska unless you could play solid defense. And he got that point acrossed and really sold it, and the players bought into it, so that’s probably why we were so successful defensively. HHC: Was it after the 1979 season that you found out that Cip had cancer, or was it not until the beginning of the following season? MN: It was more the beginning of the following year. I remember in the fall we came back, and we knew he had been diagnosed, we just didn’t know how severe. And he battled it, and I think we took a trip to Hawaii, and we came back, and it just got worse as the days went by. But he did make his trip to Hawaii, and I think that was one of his goals, and he was pretty much with us right until the very end, until it just got to the point where he couldn’t attend games. HHC: 1979-1980 was your junior season, and you guys finished 18-13 with another NIT appearance, while also finishing 2nd in the Big 8. How special was it having Joe Cipriano be there on the bench for that season while Moe Iba helped out as Associate Head Coach? MN: It was a great experience for both of them. They were great coaches, and both complimented each other as coaches. They had a great, strong relationship, and they just worked so well together. And it was just easy as a player to fit into their system, and they gave you a lot of support, but yet they pushed and drove you to be a better player and do well in the classroom and do things on and off the court in a respectful manner. You couldn’t ask for two better college coaches to play for. HHC: Prior to your senior season of 1980-1981, Cip continued to become seriously ill, before ultimately passing away a few days before the season opening game against Wyoming. What do you remember about this, and how difficult was it to go through? MN: I remember doing an interview on TV right before the Wyoming game after he had passed. It was a difficult period for most of us, and personally for me, because I had a lot of respect for him, and he obviously gave me a great chance to play at that level. And like I said, he was the reason I came there, and my parents were really impressed with him when he came to Arizona to recruit me. And he just followed through and showed a lot of care for his athletes. It was just a very hard time for a week or two right after that, and probably, as most people remember, it was easier to just play for him and stay busy when you go trough something like that. But it definitely affected us in the next couple of weeks and months to follow, and then you go through that phase of grief, and then afterwards, when the season ends, it really sinks in. HHC: What do you remember about the last time you saw Cip, as far as what he said or what sticks out? MN: I remember visiting him at his house, and again, Terry Novak and myself had gone over there and visited him at the time, and a couple people were over, and I don’t really remember who, but we just wanted to see him. We knew it was kind of getting late, and we didn’t know how much longer he’d be with us, and it seemed like within three or four days after that, it happened. It was a real special time because it was pretty much just the three or four of us in there, and we spent some good quality time with him. And it became very sad, but as Terry and I remember looking back, we got to see him in pretty good spirits the last time, and it just was very special. HHC: Moe Iba took over as head coach for your senior season of 1980-1981, and your team went 15-12. Do you feel that team rallied around Coach Iba and Cip and overachieved, or was it right about where it should have been? MN: It probably was right about where it should have been. That year I don’t know if we lost Ray Collins for a little bit to a broken foot, but I think that was the year, and at the time, we were at Colorado, and were playing well, and we were near the top of the Big 8. And he broke his foot, and that really hurt us, because we really lost a solid player in Ray, and probably didn’t recover as a team because he was really solid offensively and defensively. And we kind of went on a downward spiral, and we lost to Colorado at home in the first round of the playoffs. They had Jo Jo Hunter, and he scored a bunch on us, and they were just ready for the game and upset us at home. HHC: In that season, Andre Smith was Big 8 Player of the Year. Talk about what kind of player and teammate he was? MN: Andre was a very good player. Again, another post player probably undersized, and that was a credit to Coach Iba and Cipriano. We weren’t real big, and Andre was the same size as Carl. They were just great players who learned to play with their backs to the basket. And we ran a motion offense, and learned how to pass the ball real well, inside and out, and it really allowed them to score. Both of them took advantage of that offensive system. And Moe did a great job with Andre and Carl, as far as instructing individually in the post. They were very skilled, but I think Coach Iba got the most out of all of us. We may not have been the most skilled players in the Big 8, but we seemed to play harder than everybody. HHC: And what about Jack Moore? What was he like, and did you keep in touch with him at all upon leaving Lincoln? MN: Yeah, I did, until his passing in the tragic plane crash. But Jack, at his size, overachieved at everything. You couldn’t take the basketball from him - he was very solid offensively. He was a great free throw shooter, and obviously above average outside shooter, but really took the ball to the basket. They list him at 5’8 or 5’9, and he was just unbelievable to play with. He was very good with setting you up, and that’s basically where I got my points, when I did score, was from him. He was very good at penetrating and drawing help and then kicking it to the open person. HHC: What are your favorite memories off the court at Nebraska, and when was the last time you were in Lincoln? MN: Last time I was in Lincoln was… Well, I usually visit once a summer to play golf, and I’ve taken my son back to two football games. Probably one of the most favorite memories of recent time has been taking my son Andrew, who is 11, with me. I took him back two years ago to see his first football game, and again, we stayed with Terry. And we got him into a Big Red football game. I think that kind of bonding, taking your son, is great. And I’m still trying to take him back to a basketball game. And I think we may be playing in a very competitive baseball tournament in Omaha, so we’re looking to come back there in June. HHC: Do you keep up with the current team at all? MN: I do. In fact, we bought a game on ESPN Full Court last night (Tuesday night, January 17, 2006). I saw them play not so well against Iowa State, but I’m excited for them, and maybe somebody can slow Texas down, and maybe the rest of the league can catch them. Looks to me that after Texas, it looks wide open, but I was hoping they’d protect their home court last night, but maybe they’ll beat Kansas. So it looks like maybe they can go down there, and if they play a little bit better, beat them. HHC: We’d like that! Finally, what is Mike Naderer up to these days, and what has he been doing the last 25 years? MN: When I left Nebraska, I coached for six years at the college level. I did a grad assistant job at Nebraska, and then went to Drake and Baylor. Then I moved back to Arizona after six years and took over the head-coaching job at Coronado High School in Scottsdale Arizona, and I currently live in Phoenix, which is right next door. But I coached there for fifteen years, and just resigned two years ago so I could spend more time with my family and my son, and he’s very involved with youth sports. And I teach in the school system here, it’s my eighteenth year, and I’m an elementary physical education teacher, so I’m still heavily involved in youth sports, with Arizona Youth Basketball and Youth Baseball. So, I spend a lot of time at basketball gyms or baseball fields. HHC: That’s a good life right there! MN: (Laughs) You got it. HHC: Hey, if we set you up an email account at [email protected] , would you be willing to take some e-mails from our readers? MN: Sure. HHC: Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time Mike, and anything else you'd like to add? MN: No, this was great. I appreciate you contacting me and thinking about us old timers.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  19. Then & Now: Craig Wortmann Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Craig Wortmann played at Nebraska from 1999-2001, and is one of the more successful walk-ons in school history. Wortmann began his career under Danny Nee, and continued his progression with the hiring of Barry Collier. In fact, Wortmann grew as a player so much that he accomplished a rare feat for a walk-on in 2000-2001 as he cracked the starting lineup. Wortmann recently sat down with HHC as our latest Sunday guest in the feature "Then & Now." HHC: Craig, thanks for joining us on HHC. CW: Not a problem. I’m really glad to find out about this website. HHC: You grew up in Hartington, Nebraska, and attended Cedar Catholic High School, where you helped lead your team to a 24-1 record your senior season. Talk about what playing basketball at that level was like, and did you find it hard to get recruited because of the small town? CW: I think so, but just a little bit. There were offers from the schools in the northeastern part of Nebraska, obviously. But, to get out of that region was pretty difficult, especially in getting noticed. You basically had to do a lot of different things in the summer to get any kind of attention. But playing at that level, it was great, and at our school there was a lot of tradition from all of the players before me. There was a bunch of stuff there that we watched growing up that we all wanted to be a part of, and I think that while we were there, we did some nice things as well. But yeah, growing up together as a group and playing together from the 4th grade and on was fun. So, it was nice being in a small school for that reason, because you got to know your friends and people you were playing with. I still have some of those friends to this day. HHC: You ended up going to Northeast Community College out of high school, where you were teammates and split minutes with former Husker Ross Buckendahl. Talk about the competition at that level, and did it prepare you at all for your arrival at Nebraska? CW: I think so, because it helped me grow and mature quite a bit. What I mean is that coming from a small school, you’re the best player on your team, and you don’t really find that level of competition all across the board that we had at Northeast. We had a lot of fun there at Northeast, and a lot of us knew each other from the small schools that we were playing against in that area. I played against Ross in basketball and football growing up, so we knew of each other, but obviously got to know each other better, which was great. But yeah, playing at Northeast really helped me develop into a better player, as far as finding a few things you were good at it, and realizing your weaknesses, as well. That’s what really made you better. HHC: How much did it mean to you and Ross being teammates at both Northeast and Nebraska? CW: I think it helped us get through some of the first challenges of walking on, since we did that at the same time. And, our decision to leave Northeast to take that chance, it was nice having somebody to do that with. We were even roommates at Northeast. So, we talked about leaving and decided that we both wanted to take that chance, to see what we could do. And, growing through those stages helped us, because we had so much history together – kind of like having a brother there for you at all times. And then you also had a friend there when things were good or bad – just always someone there to share different things with. So, I think having him there made it easier to adjust with all took place. HHC: We've talked to former Husker walk-on Jeremy Glenn from Ogallala, and he's told us that former assistant coach Jeff Smith sought him out to walk on upon arriving on campus. How did this process work with you - did the coaches know you’d be coming ahead of time, or did you come to campus with just an outside chance? CW: It was more of me wanting to come. I had thought about trying to walk on in high school, and it just wasn’t working out, so I decided to go to Northeast before taking the chance. So, I came, got all the paperwork, and it took off from there. We had tryouts and actually the first tryout that we had, I didn’t make it, and Ross did. But, they called me back two or three days later and told me they needed another player, so it started from there. It was a week of let down, but after that, it was nothing but good experiences. HHC: Does the walk on process always work that way, or does it vary from player to player and year to year? CW: We had an open tryout, and I went in and talked to coach Nee before hand when I first got onto campus. So, I knew what to do before I got started. And, they always had a time where players got together and play, so Ross and I tried to do that as much as we could. And then we interacted with the coaches to see when we’d have tryouts, and we had 8 or 10 player’s total tryout. So, they took Ross off the bat, and me later. I don’t know if that’s the standard process every year, because it depends on what they have at that time. If they have a lot of players and don’t need more, then I don’t think there’s a huge need for it. I don’t know if they look for players or not. Coach Collier may have at the beginning, but now that he has his own recruits, I’m not sure. I don’t know how its been done lately, but that’s how it was done when I was there. HHC: Talk about the average day in the life of a scout-team member, as far as practice goes. What kind of things would you do, and how did it differ from the scholarship players? CW: The average day was pretty much the same for everyone. We had a pretty structured schedule, with weights before or after practice, and then drills. The only breakdown of differences was a point in practice when scout team guys would sometimes get together and learn the plays of the opposition. But after that, we’d get back together and play. So really, we were all together, and you wouldn’t know the difference between a walk-on and scholarship player. HHC: Did you ever have any idea that you would become a starter by your senior year at Nebraska, and how much did that mean to you? CW: As I first came in, I didn’t think so. In the program we were in at that time, and the way things were, I kind of thought scout team was the highest I’d get to, which was okay by me, because I’d made it, and it was a goal I was trying to do. It kind of helped me to relax, and to be able to just sit back and learn from the older players. When I first got the idea that Coach Collier was going to start me for that first game, I was a little nervous, but not that much because of what I’d gone through the previous two seasons. But, it meant the world to me at that time. Just getting on the team was one transition, and then getting to play was everything coming true that I’d worked for up to that point. So, it was a fun time, as far as the relationships we built and teams we had. HHC: Talk a little bit about what it was like playing under Danny Nee compared to Barry Collier, as far as describing each as both a coach and man. CW: It was definitely two different personalities. There were good and bad things on both sides. Coach Nee was more laidback, but we were able to do different things to bring out individual talents, which can hurt you sometimes. Under Coach Collier, it was more of an effort to bring out the team aspect, as far as more discipline, which worked out well, too. Coach Collier was definitely more disciplined and a straight a shooter. He’d tell you the way it was, and what you needed to do to play. Coach Nee was more roundabout, and maybe sometimes you didn’t get it. So, in that aspect it was kind of nice, because I know there were a few times that Coach Collier told me that, “you need to do this,” and it helped a lot. I enjoyed both coaches very much. HHC: We ask every player who played under Danny Nee for a classic Danny Nee story or two to add to our ongoing collection. What can you contribute? CW: What sticks out with me about Coach Nee was when we’d be in Kansas City, and especially since I live here now. But anyway, we’d always go to Houston’s, which is a great restaurant and steakhouse here. So I guess that just thinking back to the places he’d take us to eat, it gave us a little culture. Some of our guys never had the chance to go into those kinds of places and eat, so that was something we did every time we came to Kansas City. HHC: What are your favorite memories of your times at Nebraska, both on and off the court? Any particular games stick out? CW: Well, probably the favorite games to play in were the home games of the Big 12. The crowds there at the Devaney Center were great, as far as the excitement. That’s just something that coming from a small town, was enormous to be a part of. You just can’t describe it until you’re inside of it. Probably what I remember most is that you would think that with that large of a crowd, you’d get distracted. But, as you got onto the court, everything went away, and it was 5 on 5 with coaches screaming at you. And I just always remember thinking, “We’re sitting here in front of so many people, but it seems like there’s only 12 people out here trying to beat the other team.” Off the court, I think it was the friendships that we built, because we had a lot of fun goofing around on road trips. Then going to class, and just doing the normal college things. If we were closer, I think that some of us would still be together and hanging out, but unfortunately, we’re all dispersed and have gotten on with our lives. HHC: Before we get to what you're doing today, answer us an honest question. Who was better with the ladies, yourself or Ross, because we hear he's quite the bragger. CW: (Laughs) Ross… Well, I don’t know if I can say anything, because I don’t want to get him into trouble since he’s married now and so am I. (Laughs) I think we both just had a lot of fun, because him and I were together for a lot of years, and we were almost like brothers with the things that we did together, as far as joking around. But, I’d probably have to say that I’d have to be better with the ladies than him. And, I would assume he’d expect that answer from me. HHC: (Laughs) We thought so... Hey, what is Craig Wortmann up to these days, both personally and professionally? CW: Like I just mentioned, I recently was married to my wife Wendy. She was a track athlete at Doane, and we just built a house here in Olathe, just outside of Kansas City. I work in KC for U.S. Bank in the private banking area, and am enjoying it a lot. And, besides that, I’m just trying to enjoy life right now and play a little basketball on the side, along with a little flag football. Just trying to have fun and enjoy life. HHC: Craig, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us. Are you cool with taking reader e-mails at [email protected] if we set you up an account? CW: Thanks for having me, and yeah, I’ll definitely take some e-mails. Keep up the great work with the site; I’m glad that I know about it now. ***UPDATE*** As of 05/01/06 Craig Wortmann is now a sales representative with Perceptive Software.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  20. Then & Now: Kelly Lively Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Kelly Lively played at Nebraska from 1989-1991, and was a key member of the 1990-1991 team that won a school record 26 games. The 7’0” 215 pound Lively served as Rich King’s backup while at Nebraska, and was recently back in Lincoln last weekend as part of the 1990-1991 Team Reunion, including the HHC exclusive meet and greet at P.O. Pears. Lively is our latest guest in this Sunday’s edition of “Then & Now”. HHC: Thanks for joining us. Did you have fun last weekend? KL: Oh yeah. I loved being down on the floor at the Devaney Center and seeing a real big turnout. Just seeing all the fans in full gear was great again. The fact that we lost was the absolute low point of last weekend, but the high point was being down there at halftime. HHC: Agreed on that game, it was depressing. Anyway, you played high school basketball at Torrington High School, where you were named the Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year in your senior season (1987) after averaging 16.0 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and leading your team to a 23-0 record and state championship. What was it like being a part of that, and did it help prepare you well for the Big 8? KL: High school was a good time, but did it prepare me for the Big 8 at all? Absolutely not. That year in 1987, the Big 8 was at its all-time high. I think Kansas and Oklahoma played for the final, and competition in Wyoming was nowhere near the caliber that I was about to see that next year at Nebraska. I think that in 1988, I ended up touring around on a Big 8 team, going to places like Czechoslovakia with future NBA players like Doug Smith, and representatives from Kansas and Oklahoma. HHC: What made you choose to come play basketball at Nebraska, and who else recruited you hard? KL: I was actually recruited by Creighton. They were one of the five trips that I took. I looked at schools in Colorado and Oklahoma as well. Not Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, but Tulsa, who was one of the first schools interested in me. What made me come to Nebraska? I think it was close enough to home for friends and family to be able to see me play, but not too close where your parents are there every weekend type of thing. Also, in order to play beyond college, I was going to have to put on a lot of strength and weight, and I thought if anyone could do that, it’d be Nebraska. Plus, the strength and reputation of the Big 8 was a big draw as well, as was the quality of academic program. It was all a great package. HHC: What was the perception of Nebraska basketball to an out of state high school kid back then, and what did you know about the Huskers? KL: (Laughs) I knew very little about Nebraska basketball. But Torrington is right on the border of Wyoming and Nebraska, so there’s such an influence where you either love them or hated them. It was kind of like back in the days you were either rock and roll or country, there was no in-between, it was kind of the same thing. I knew that the state of Nebraska supported the university tremendously. I had opportunities to go to the coast in big cities and cause lots of trouble. (Laughs) But I got in the least amount of trouble during my visit to Nebraska as anywhere, so I thought it was the one. I hung out with Beau (Reid) and Bill (Jackman), and thought, “this is where I need to be, because going to school in Los Angeles would get you in all kinds of trouble.” HHC: Talk about your relationship with Danny Nee, both at the start of your career and at the end? KL: Well, let’s say that Danny and I are probably complete opposites. You take somebody who grew up in Brooklyn, and someone who grew up in Cowboy country. And I’m much more laid back and easy going, relaxed, and Danny was just the opposite. On a person-to-person basis, we didn’t have a lot in common or get along extremely well. But I have uttermost respect for the guy, and thought he did a great job administering and running a great program. And I’d do it again - I was thinking about that last weekend. It didn’t turn out nearly what I thought it was going to be in a lot of different ways, but I think I’d do it again. It was a good experience, real good education, and a great group of guys. HHC: You sat out in 1987-1988 to gain strength and endurance, and as you mentioned earlier, traveled with the Big 8 All-Star team to England and Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1988. What was that experience like? KL: Sitting out was good exposure and allowed me to mature and ease into things. And then, having the opportunity to go on that trip and play on that team was a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially for a freshman when you’re playing with guys with a lot more experience who have had good success as starters for teams that were playing in the national championship. You’ve got guys on your team wearing the championship ring on their finger, and it’s a real good experience to learn from them and spend a couple of weeks practicing and traveling around. European ball was much more aggressive back then, as far as compared to collegiate ball in the United States. Inside play was more aggressive, and I think all of that was a good preparation for what kind of ball we’d be playing in the Big 8. HHC: 1988-1989 saw your team go 17-16 and into the 2nd round of the NIT. What sticks out about that season? KL: To be honest, I’m drawing a blank there. I don’t remember the NIT much, but I do remember playing at home in front of big crowds and getting a lot of home support from the crowd. HHC: 1989-1990 was a season of injury and disappointment, as your team finished 10-18 and 7th in the Big 8. How tough was that season to swallow? KL: I think it was a real gut check type of year. It was a year that pushed enough people to the edge to think, “What are we going to do?” Most of those people were sophomores at the time, and their careers were half over, and it was really a gut check type of thing. We all made the commitment that we were sticking together and were going to make it work by working harder in the off-season to turn that program around. HHC: Prior to 1990-1991, did you honestly have any idea that the team would become near as good as it did? KL: I think that’s probably the sweetest aspect of the whole thing. From spending time last weekend reminiscing, I forgot the fact that some of the coaches and press had picked us 8th in the Big 8, and we end up 9th in the country. We talked about stories like winning at Oklahoma that year. We weren’t supposed to do that, let alone by 28 or 30 points, and that was probably one of the highlights of the year. Just walking out of Norman saying, “We weren’t supposed to do this.” We were absolutely playing the best we could at that time. HHC: The 1990-1991 team went 26-8 and finished in the Top 10 of some polls. What made that team so successful? KL: We spent a lot of time talking about this very question last weekend. And it’s really tough to point out any one particular thing. I think it takes a team awhile to gel, and people to find their roles. And I think we played our best when individuals weren’t concerned about stats and individual play. And I think we started playing more as a team, and I think over two years, we kind of settled into our roles, and got more comfortable with them. Whether it was off the bench or starting, or being a shooter or rebounder, we kind of let some of that individualism go. I will say that I think the big games where we had the big TV coverage, why did we lose? Well, I think people had the tendency to look at those individual stats again, and I think that hurt us. That’s just my guess, and nobody can put a finger on it, but it’s probably more that we played at our best level when everybody was playing as a team. HHC: How tough was it losing in that first round game to Xavier, especially after you were a three seed? KL: Aw man. (Pauses) I’ve spent the last fifteen years not talking about that (Laughs). You can just tell the emotion in peoples face when that topic comes up. Usually, when I’m in a conversation with somebody, like on an airplane, and that question comes up, that’s usually a time I get up and walk away (Laughs). Obviously, some people took it (the loss) harder than others, but it was something that was a hard way to end the season. HHC: Do you think it was just Xavier playing over their heads that night? KL: I think it was all the hype of the NCAA tournament, and the TV coverage, and the Metrodome. We were on the court with Duke, who eventually won it, and rubbing elbows with Shaquille O’Neill during warm-ups. And I think people got immersed in it all and kind of lost the team focus. HHC: Time for happy thoughts. What are your favorite memories of Lincoln, both on and off the court? KL: I had a chance this past weekend to remember a lot of good memories. On the court, there are a lot of last second shots and real gut check efforts to make things happen that other people have talked about. Off the court, making a lot of good friends. I’ve moved around a little bit since Lincoln, and the quality of people you meet in Lincoln are great. They are real friendly and down to earth people, and we had a good time there. HHC: And before we get to today, can you tell us a classic and colorful Danny Nee story or two so we can add it to our ongoing collection? KL: (Laughs) I’ve read through some of those Danny Nee stories on your site, and like I said, I have the utmost respect for him, so I don’t really have anything incredibly funny to explain. I was going to find out if he was left handed or right handed, because that’s one thing I do remember. He used to write with one hand, but when he shifted the marker to the other hand, you better learn to how duck (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) KL: He was a great coach, and we had a lot of good success. We were opposites, but the results at the end of the year spoke for themselves. HHC: After 1990-1991, you still had one remaining year of eligibility, and transferred to the University of Denver. Talk about that. KL: Well, I had that year left, and was one credit shy of graduation from Nebraska, and went to the University of Denver. It was a town I’d always wanted to live in, and it had a very reputable MBA program, which I finished in a year. And, I got a chance to play again for the Denver Pioneers. We had another 26-win season there, just like in 1990-1991, and we were one game away from the Final 4 in Division 2 basketball. And this last weekend, I made a comment to the guys after I found out that I’m still holding records for shot blocks and stuff at DU. And I was recognized as the MVP of the season, and it was a good opportunity to get a lot of playing time. But I made a comment that it was a tribute to the talent of that 1990-1991 team, and amazing that you could take the least important player from that (1990-1991) team, and he was an MVP at a Division 2 program. That was a testament to that team at Nebraska, as any of those guys could have been starting, if not MVP’s somewhere else. HHC: Like JF Hoffman, who we hope to interview in the near future! Hey, update us on what Kelly Lively been up to since 1992, and what is he doing today? KL: Well, kind of a funny story about 1992. When I was working out at DU, I happened to be at the right place at the right time. The Nuggets were also working out there (at DU), and I got a chance to hang out with some of the coaches and players. And what Denver did that year, was they let a lot of their big men go because they’d drafted Dikembe Mutumbo. And they had absolutely no big men in their camp because of his holdout. So, I got this call and got invited to their camp, and it was a really fun opportunity to work out in the Nuggets camp. I was telling Eric (Piatkowski) that his NBA career lasted 12 years, and mine lasted 12 days (Laughs). But yeah, Dikembe was holding out for more money and was missing camp, and was catching a lot of flack from the fans and press. But I’ll tell you what, the day he came back, he sure proved a couple of things. He proved to his critics that he was going to be a future NBA All-Star, first off. And, he proved that I had no business playing in the NBA; he wiped the floor with me. Since then, I got married in 1994 to a girl that I dated in Nebraska, and she went to Nebraska Wesleyan, Michelle. I have a great marriage of over ten years with her. And I think about 1997 or so, we moved to New Orleans for a year. At the time, I did not want to go and leave the Midwest, but after spending a year there, I didn’t want to leave. It was a real different experience and a real fun one to be down there. And then probably around 1998, we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and started working there, and have been here about ten years. I am currently an IT Manager for an International Company that’s based in Chicago. I help administer the network and applications for their operations in the western United States. Oh, and I’ve got to mention my two daughters, or I’ll catch a lot of hell for that (Laughs). Megan is 4, and Ashlyn is 2. They’re future Cornhusker volleyball players I believe, because my wife played volleyball in college, and I play on a club volleyball team here. I realize I can play volleyball a lot longer than I play basketball, so we do a little touring around playing in some volleyball tournaments here and there. HHC: Do you still ball? KL: I do still play some basketball in the city league. That’s another funny story about Danny. Last year, Duquesne was in town for a Christmas/New Years Tournament here in Albuquerque, hosted by the New Mexico Lobos. And I was listening on the radio to the pregame, and I thought to myself that I should stop by and see him. And then I thought, “man, that’s a big step down from the heydays at Nebraska” So I wait a couple of seconds, realize the negative thoughts I’m thinking, and realize that I myself was going to play city league ball, so I had no room to talk (Laughs). HHC: Have you talked to Danny since 1991? KL: No. I ended up not going to see him that night either since I had that game. I play with a bunch of guys from work, and if nobody gets hurt, it’s a good night. HHC: (Laughs) Nice. Hey, are you cool with taking some reader e-mails if we set you up an account at [email protected] ? KL: Sure, that’d be great. HHC: Awesome. Thanks a lot for joining us. Anything you’d like to add? KL: Well, I Just want to thank you guys at Husker Hoops Central for putting on the party at P.O. Pears last weekend. I think everybody got his or her money’s worth. I know P.O. Pears probably had a good bar tab going (Laughs). But yeah, we had a good opportunity to swap some stories and talk to both some fans and you guys with the site, and it was a great time.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  21. Then & Now: Jose Ramos Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy Husker Hoops Central) Jose Ramos played for Nebraska during the 1990-1991 season, and helped lead the #9 Huskers to a record of 26-8. A 6'2" point guard, Ramos came to Nebraska after playing a season at the University of Florida, and joined Keith Moody in backing up Clifford Scales. Ramos, who until today hasn't publicly talked about his times at Nebraska since leaving, is our latest guest in this Sunday's edition of "Then & Now". HHC: Thanks for joining us. It was great to see you last month at the 1990-1991 reunion. JR: Yeah, I was quite surprised that I got a phone call from you and that you found me, but I’m glad you did, because it was great to get back. I hadn’t heard from these guys since I left Nebraska. Actually, it was the Big 8 Tournament in Kansas City. So, I was kind of glad I was found and able to come back! HHC: You were a three-year starter at Miami High, and were a first-team All-Florida selection as a senior (1988) after averaging 20 points and 9 assists per game. For your efforts, you won Gatorade Player of the Year honors for the Southern region, and also finished 5th in the voting for Florida's 1988 "Mr. Basketball" award. You ended up at the University of Florida, but who else recruited you out of high school? JR: As you know, we were very successful in high school. You had all the coaches there, with everybody from NC State to Duke, North Carolina to Florida State, and all the ACC schools. But, I only took one recruiting visit, and that was to Florida, which was the school I wanted to go to growing up. Some other schools that were interested were Villanova, and NC State made a big push with Jim Valvano, whom it was great to meet. Those were the only guys that came into the gym and talked with me besides Florida, and I sat down and contemplated going on a recruiting visit to more schools. But, it never materialized, and I just ended up going to Florida. HHC: So Nebraska wasn't in the picture at all? JR: No, not at all. I just knew Nebraska only because of football, actually. Ironically, in high school, we went to a Nike All-American Camp in Princeton, New Jersey, and I met Beau Reid out there. He was a counselor out there. (Laughs) Ask him about that and see if he remembers. He was at Nike, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to this camp, but it was just starting to get off when I was in high school. Your Nike, Adidas, and all these camps that are showcased now began then. You had guys like Alonzo Mourning, Chris Jackson, and Shawn Kemp there, and boy, was it just incredible. A skinny young Shawn Kemp. Aw man, he was 6’10” back then, but nothing more than 200 pounds, if that. But gosh, when I first got into the gym, he was actually playing already, and this guy was rebounding the ball, going coast to coast by himself, and just playing with guys before dunking. And I was like, “Who the hell is this guy?” Finally, we all got together and we ended up knowing who he was, but it was just fun seeing some of these guys. Alonzo was another guy where all he did was block shots, and we didn’t think he’d be so offensive minded when he got in the league, but he improved a whole lot. It’s funny because in high school, our team played on the national level, so we played against everybody that’s either in the pros now or went to high major Division I. But yeah, Beau was a counselor, because they used to bring a lot of college players to come and work the camp in the summer with the high school kids. HHC: Speaking of high school, you went to the same school as of former Husker fullback Omar Soto. Did he later play a role in you coming to Lincoln? JR: Well, he was a football player and a fullback, and a pretty good football player. But our football program wasn’t as big as our basketball. But I knew who he was, and actually when I first came to Lincoln, he kind of found out that I was coming and went over there, and that’s where I met Tom Osborne. So, it was kind of neat to see him there, and basically he was like the only Latin guy in the college at the time (Laughs). He was the only guy that spoke Spanish there, nobody else. HHC: (Laughs) Pretty diverse school there at UNL, huh? JR: Yeah, I know right (Laughs). HHC: As a freshman at Florida in 1988-1989 for Coach Norm Sloan, you started 10 of the first 12 games before leaving the team for personal reasons. What did that season teach you? JR: Well, I didn’t grow up in an athletic family like a lot of guys that I got to meet later on, whose father either played college ball or were a coach. I come from a family where my father owned a furniture business, middle class family, my Mother didn’t work, and I had two brothers and a sister, and we played a lot of sports around the house. My brother was very athletic, and funny story, he played high school football, and at the time went to Christopher Columbus (High School). Alonzo Highsmith, who later played for the Houston Oilers, was one of the running backs, and my brother went ahead and got nailed by a safety, and never finished his high school football days (Laughs). So, nobody in my family ever played sports, and I think now that I went through college that its important to have someone who’s either been through high school, college, or professional sports, because they can guide you in the right direction, and I never had that. So when I went to Florida, it was a great experience, although in hindsight, I wish I would have taken all my visits, and probably would have chosen a different school or a little different path, but I was happy there. The players were great, because I either played with them in high school or in AAU. My year there, I played with Dwayne Schintzius, the 7’2” player, and Livingston Chapman, who was freshman of the year, diaper dandy, he was the whole nine, and then he had a knee injury and really didn’t get to play anywhere. But, he had a great college career. HHC: 1989-1990 found you at Central Florida Community College, and you averaged 16.2 PPG and 6.4 APG while also leading the team in assists (210) and steals (101). You played for former Wichita State and Illinois State coach Gene Smithson. What did he teach you? JR: Gene was a guy that also coached a lot of great players at Wichita State. Antoine Carr, Cliff Levingston, and Xavier McDaniel. Bottom line, he ran into a situation at Wichita State, and came down to central Florida, and he was a guy that as soon as I left Florida, he was the first one to call me, and he was starting up a great program and I was very fortunate that in all the stops I had in college, from four years to four different colleges, to have such great coaches like Gene. I thrived at Central because it was a small little town, and the campus was small. I lived right by campus, which was great, and I concentrated on class and ball all year, and had a great team with some good players, including Rivera, and I can’t remember his last name, but he ended up at UTEP and played point guard for Don Haskins. While I was at Central, I came across Coach (Danny) Nee and Coach (Lynn) Mitchem, because I was all set to go to Florida State, but then changed my mind. That’s a funny story because that team at Florida State was loaded but needed a point guard. They had Bob Sura, Doug Edwards, Sam Cassell, and I went over there and visited Coach Pat Kennedy and Associate Head Coach David Zimeroth, and they knew me well from high school. I was all set going there, and then a couple of days before signing, that’s when Coach Nee and Lynn Mitchem came down, and I remember getting a phone call from Gene Smithson telling me they had coaches from Nebraska there who he’d met at the Final Four. At the Final Four, Danny had told him, “Hey, I’m looking for a point guard,” so they came in to take a shot at me and try to convince me (to come to Nebraska) within a couple of days. Believe it or not, I did like Danny. He was very personable when he had to be. He had a good personality, and was a city guy. He fit in with me, spoke well, had great ideas, was motivated, and then Lynn Mitchem was his sidekick, and he did a great job of acting like your buddy and was “one of the guys” since he was a former player. I related to him very well, and I remember we all went out to dinner with my junior college president, Danny, Lynn, and myself, and he convinced me by saying, “Hey listen, I’ve got a very good team coming in. We didn’t have a great year, but I think we have the pieces in the right place and all I really need is a point guard.” He already had (Keith) Moody there, but wasn’t too sold on him. To make a long story short, I went and visited with Danny in Lincoln, and he pulled out all the stops. I walked into the gym and he’s got a tape playing with 15,000 people screaming, has the introduction, etc. Back then, when one “pulled out the stops”, you walked into the arena, and you had your jersey with name and number, and over the loud speaker, you being introduced. So he was nice, and I liked the facility, people, and the players there. He just worked me those couple of days. We went out to dinner, and for some reason, I just fell in love with the place and the people. And again, the Big Eight Conference was great, and I told him I was coming, and remember coming back and getting the call from Coach Zimeroth at Florida State, who told me, “Hey, I heard your going to Nebraska?!?” And I said, “Coach, I’m sorry man.” And anyone who knows me knows that I don‘t play around a lot, and I was always brutally honest. And I just told him flat out that I liked the place and coach, and basically I didn’t want to go ahead and come to Florida State, and I’m going to go to Nebraska. He says “big mistake.” (Laughs) And sure, in hindsight, I was successful, and I never doubt myself in the decisions I make, even if they are bad, which I’ve made a lot of in my life. But, they go into the Sweet 16 or almost Final Four with that team, but they went ahead and picked up a pretty good point guard named Charlie Ward (Laughs). That chump ended up being like player of the year and got drafted in the first round and made millions of dollars. HHC: So you’re saying he owes you a cut? (Laughs) JR: Yeah right, huh! (Laughs) I should call him and tell him he owes me a little stipend from that since he may have been stuck to football? HHC: (Laughs) Most definitely! Hey, what was the perception of both Lincoln, Nebraska, and Nebraska basketball, to a kid from Miami, Florida? JR: First of all, I had never heard of the basketball program until I got there. Football was always the premiere sport, but I was always the kind of guy that liked challenges. I liked being different, and people that know me know that’s the way I am. I always fight against the current, so I chose Nebraska and thought I could help. One thing that people can knock me for is going to four different schools, and really, I didn’t have the successful college career that I think I should have had if I would have stayed at one institution. But I’ll tell you this, no matter what school I went to, I always contributed and was a winner. I was never on a losing team. And I know people compare and say how can you turn one year of losing around (1989-1990) and into the best year in school history (1990-1991)? And I really think it wasn’t a magical year, but he put the right pieces together, and when I got there, you had a lot of tough players. One of the toughest guys there was Beau Reid, and I can relate to guys like that, because that’s my upbringing. I’m not used to losing, and never lost. And, to be quite honest with you, I got there and they said they’d been 10-18, and I couldn’t fathom that. My mentality was that I couldn’t stand that. I was a hard-nosed player, and I didn’t take crap from anyone, no matter who it was, even a friend like Anthony Peeler (Missouri). I was an old school player who took things personally, which is not what it’s like now, where you let a guy stand in and get 40 or 50 points. Back in the day, that guy wasn’t going to go off and get that career high against us. He was going to get fouled hard, and he was going to know that when he came in there, he was going to get nailed and take shots if he got hot. He had something coming, and wasn’t getting it against us. Anyway, when I got to Nebraska, I practiced from day one, even if I couldn’t play off the bat, and guys knew that I wasn’t a selfish player. I looked to run, played with a lot of talented and athletic guys, and that’s what I expected out of the guys. I never judged any of them, whether it be Rich King or Eric Piatkowski, and instead just got in there and didn’t take no crap from nobody, not even the coaches. I was there to work and win, and I think that rubbed off on a lot of other players who didn’t have that cockiness or mentality. That year though, since I had to sit out the first 12 games, I played with the white team in practice, with Bruce Chubick, Eric Piatkowski, Chris Cresswell, and guys like that. We actually beat the red time the majority of the time. Actually, I felt kind of sorry for Chris Cresswell, because confidence is such a big part of being a college athlete, which I know even more after I later was an assistant coach at Florida International, and I think Danny kind of sapped Chris’ confidence by telling him not to dribble, and to only spot up. I’m sorry, but you just don’t tell guys that kind of crap, so I felt bad for Cresswell. He was a deadly shooter man, but it wasn’t utilized, I don’t think, when it could have been. Meanwhile, Danny never said any negative things to Piatkowski, but it was obvious, he was a stud. He had no conscience; he would just go in there, and I don’t know if he was a freshman that didn’t know much, but he played carelessly, and just let it go anytime he had an open shot. He had good confidence, and he would put the ball in the hole. HHC: Can you give us a funny and colorful Danny Nee story or two for our ongoing collection? JR: Boy, good old Danny (Laughs). I’ll tell you something man, and I’ll tell you a story that a lot of guys wrote about after I left, but never got right. This is exclusive for you and HHC. We went to the Big Eight Tournament in Kansas City, and I don’t remember exactly what the restaurant was, but we went to a steak restaurant. I remember Danny saying, “Oh, we’re going to take the team to a great steakhouse. I want you to behave, but it’s a great place that you need to go.” Bottom line, I get there, and I remember my family flew into town to see the Big Eight Tournament. I remember I told them I’m going to go to dinner, and they went over there and sat separate from the team. But the big steak dinner that everyone writes about, here’s how it really went. If you’ve ever ordered filet minion, it’s very well cut, and nice and neat. I remember asking if it’s very big, and she said, “Well, they’re actually 12 small 6 ounces of tender meat.” And I said, “Wow, I’m hungry, I need two orders of that.” But before I put those two orders in, I went over to coach, and told him, “Hey coach, I have my family here, and I’m going to order an extra entrée” because that was Danny’s thing, since we had big players there and guys ate a lot, and sometimes they would get mad since they were paying for it. So I told coach I was going to get two orders of steak, and he was in a good mood and goes, “Aw yeah, sure, go ahead, not a problem.” And I said, “If I have to pay extra, my parents are here, so I will.” So I sat down, and when I got there, I got four pieces of meat, and I ate all four. But low and behold, for some reason, and this is typical Coach Nee, the next day it was our breakfast at the hotel, and he never used to address the team during breakfast. Breakfast you would go, sit down, and shoot the breeze, but he made it a point, which he was good at, when he wanted to embarrass you and belittle you, he sure knew how to press your buttons. And like I said, I was one of those guys where if you confronted me, I wouldn’t let you slide. And he goes ahead before breakfast and says, “I want to address a situation that really bothered me.” And he hadn’t said anything to me, and I guess he slept on it and it bothered him when he woke up. And he says, “You’ve go to understand how to conduct yourself, and with people and media around at restaurants, you know how to conduct yourself like a human being.” And I was like, “Oh no, let’s see where this crap is leaning to, because I have a feeling it’s in my direction.” Throughout the year, we had had lots of arguments. He would tell me stuff like, “You need to relax in practice, it seems like you want to beat up some of your teammates.” And I said, “You’ve got some of these guys that act like prima donnas here, and I think that’s your job as a coach to eliminate that. Now I know why you guys only won 10 games last year, because they always mope and pout, and you curtail to that, and you’re also a moper and complainer.” Because he did, Dave! When one guy would do something, he would punish everybody. And instead of him punishing that one guy, he made the whole team deal with it. So him and me would both go on the offensive and I would tell him straight up, “Hey coach, if you wouldn’t baby-sit this guy and go off on a tantrum, you wouldn’t have this problem.” So we would have some great exchanges. But, getting back to the breakfast story, he goes ahead and tells me, “For example, Jose, I don’t know what came acrossed your mind or what were you thinking that you could order an extra meal at dinner last night. You went ahead and ate four filet minions, you think that’s appropriate?” I got up, got my bowl of cornflakes, and tipped it up, and told him, “Hey, typical crap.” I kicked the door open at the hotel, and that was the last time I saw them (my teammates). I got my parents, and they were dumbfounded. They gave me a ride back to Lincoln. I remember Danny giving me a call at the dorm when I got there, and he was one of those guys where if he needed you, he’d call you and tell you anything he needed to say to get you back. He told me, “Hey, Jose, I’m sorry. Hey listen, I know it was wrong for me to tell you that in front of everyone.” He realized what he said, but I was already in Lincoln. He said, “When we get back, I’ll talk to you, and we’ll take it from there, and we’ll try to do the best we can here.” When they came back from the Big Eight Tournament, he pulled me into the office, and typical him, he told me, “I don’t think its fair for the team that you come back for the NCAA game.” And I said, “You gotta be kidding? So, you’re going to punish me for some crap about steak dinners at one of the most important times for this team and program going to the NCAA Tournament, and you don’t want me to come along?” And he told me straight out that he didn’t, but he wanted me to think about this and use it as a learning experience for next year. So, that’s how that ended, that situation right there. HHC: So that’s what went down, huh? Thanks for sharing that, it seems no one really did have the full story. Back to Danny though, describe him as a coach. JR: Well, he was a Jekyll and Hyde kind of guy. Great recruiter, who knew what it took to get guys to the program, and sold it well. I think recruiting, no matter where you are at, is the source, and I’ve been around a lot of great coaches, but a lot of these guys get a lot of exaggerated credit, because once you start winning, you create a legend. Danny did a great job at Nebraska, and they hold him as the winningest coach there, but if you follow his career, he hasn’t been too successful anywhere else, because it goes with recruiting. He had guys like Lynn Mitchem who played a huge part in recruiting, and that’s a big part of it. It just takes the right kind of group of guys, and recruiting kids that are winners. Like I said earlier, I was an assistant coach later at Florida International, and would recruit winners; it’s contagious. HHC: Prior to the 1990-1991 season, there were plenty of doubters about Nebraska, since the Huskers finished just 10-18 in 1989-1990. Did you have any idea of how good you guys would be before the season started? JR: Well, put it this way. I would do interviews before that year, and tell people we’d win and be good, and they’d be like, “Whatsup with this guy, he is crazy. Doesn’t he know they aren’t good?” But it was just that mentality of not taking it from anyone, and the team had it. So yes, I thought we’d be good, because like I said, it was contagious, and we had winners. HHC: From talking to a lot of players on the 1990-1991 team, they say the game at #19 Wisconsin-Green Bay on January 2nd, 1991, was the time when you all knew it was for real. In that game, you hit several key free throws in the last couple of minutes to seal the win. What do you remember about that game? JR: Oh man, those were the kind of environments I always thrived in, and I think our team was coming along and winning a lot of games. Players were feeling good about each other, and I know a lot of guys talk about it, but we got along so good off the court, it was funny. We would go to the Hewitt Center as a team and eat before practice. Or, we’d go in early just to shoot the breeze, and like I said, I think that parlays into winning, and when we went to Green Bay, that was one of the craziest atmospheres that I’ve been in, and I’ve been in a lot. That crazy, college, Duke atmosphere type of thing, that’s how it was there. They were selling beer in the stands, and those kids were lit, I mean, LIT. There wasn’t a quiet moment that whole game, and what I remember, besides hitting free throws, was everyone’s emotion. Everyone was beaming, confrontational. We’re talking the Coach, the Assistants, everyone. The officials were screwing us majorly, but they (the coaches) were fighting and contesting every call, and players weren’t backing down. I think the Green Bay coach, Dick Bennett, had a son who was a senior at that time who played for him and was a great guard. But, those were the kind of games that I loved being in. I’ve always been one of the guys to step up in big games, and I hit a lot of free throws, we broke a lot of press that game, because they were pressing us all over the place. And I remember when I was hitting a couple of key free throws, on the back side of me, I have Carl Hayes and he’s over on the side by the student section, and he’s flipping them off, and these people were going berserk. And I’m hitting these free throws, and was already tense as it was, and we ended up winning. So toward the end, the score wasn’t too indicative because of free throws (70-63 Nebraska win), but I also remember when the buzzer sounded, these fans were LIVID. They were throwing beer, everything, we had to run out of there, and I think Coach Nee had to get a police escort, because he was beaming with a grin from ear to ear. When you win games like that, it builds character, and that’s why you win a lot of games, because guys are used to those kinds of battles. Nothing fazes guys when they are in that kind of situation. HHC: What other games and moments stick out with you about that 1990-1991 season? JR: Beating Kansas at home. I think that was a Final Four team, and we went ahead and beat them at home. And oh, another thing I remember is that we should have beaten those guys at Allen Fieldhouse. I remember it was a damn tight game, jam packed, and I go ahead and rip off a fast break and go in there, and I don’t remember who the guy was, but I made the lay-up, and the guy tried to take a charge, and he wasn’t there. And the referee down at the bottom, underneath the basket, called a blocking foul against the Kansas guy. And I went ahead and made the lay-up, which would have been a three-point turn around, and I think we would have been up by 2 or 3. But I remember Roy Williams going LIVID, LIVID, on the sideline. And he got so livid that the official at half court came running all the way down to the bottom and overruled that call, and they called that a charge against me. That was one of the biggest travesties I’ve ever been associated with in a college game. We should have beaten Kansas at Kansas that year. It was bush league all the way. Besides that game, I just got a real big thrill with guys on the team that went through that losing season the year before. I remember another game when we beat the hell out of #13 Oklahoma at Oklahoma (111-99). I think we had like 7 to 10 players in double figures that night. That was just the great part of that year, that all the guys who had lost the year before got to redeem themselves and win. We beat them all; Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas, all the top teams, and I got such an enjoyment of seeing both the coaches and teammates going by and making it a point to shake Billy Tubbs’ hand, or Norm Stewart’s (Laughs). Stormin’ Norman, he was cocky man! HHC: (Laughs) From talking to some of your other teammates and past Danny Nee players, the assistant coaches are always credited with a lot of the success. Talk a little bit about Lynn Mitchem, Gary Bargen, and Jeff Smith? JR: Well, Bargen was another guy who was instrumental there and didn’t get enough credit since him and Danny didn’t get along too well. He was very creative and behind a lot of the “X’s and O’s” in that program. But being a former college coach myself, I understand what a lot of coaches do these days. For example, Leonard Hamilton (Florida State). He’s not a great “X’s and O’s” guy, and he knows that. But what he is good at is being a phenomenal recruiter. So Mitchem was the main recruiter, or Nee’s right hand man, and Bargen was the “X’s and O’s”. Coach Smith was a young coach, so he was more of a stat keeper and not involved quite as much in the recruiting or “X’s and O’s”, but he found a way to keep guys happy by getting guys 17 or 18 minutes a game. That’s how we kept that group of talented guys happy, was by getting everyone in there. HHC: Do you have any regrets about coming to Nebraska, or about how things ended? JR: I’ll tell you this Dave. In hindsight, I’m an adult now, but I was a kid back then, and I made a lot of mistakes. My college career, like I said, and if I could have stayed in one place, I could have had a great career. But those weren’t the cards that were dealt to me, and I don’t blame anyone for the decisions I’ve made and what I wanted to do or how I handled situations. With Lincoln, I have absolutely no regrets. Well, the only regret was that I wish I would have stayed for my senior year, and I think we had a lot of good things going. The only thing I have to say about that is that there are only three guys who know that occurred and why I had to leave. One is deceased, (Athletic Director at the time) Bob Devaney, and then there’s Coach Nee, and myself. And I’ll leave it at that, but in hindsight, I really think that if I could have been on the team with the NCAA Tournament, we would have won, because I remember watching it, and our guard play wasn’t great. And I remember that when guys weren’t playing well that year, we had enough guys, and especially guards, where we could get the hot hand in. And I think Coach Nee failed to see the big picture. I think if we would have had a whole team going into the NCAA Tournament, we would have advanced for sure, because we had a good enough team to advance. One and out was a travesty, and I think you really, really had a very strong team coming back my senior year. You would have had (Tony) Farmer back, myself, Piatkowski, Chubick, and you would have had enough to ride the momentum. And like I always tell guys, you never know, in hindsight, Coach Nee could probably still be coaching there. But that’s in the past, and like I said, everywhere I’ve been, I’ve always looked at the positives, and that’s one of the reasons I came back to the reunion. I loved the group of guys, and I have no hard feelings with anybody. Not Coach Nee, none of the coaching staff, and no players. I had a great time there, and I think I got a little beat up by the media when I left, and a lot of negative things were written that weren’t that accurate, but that’s media, and that’s how they sell papers. And I think Lee Barfknecht went ahead and off of the stories he wrote about me, got promoted to the World-Herald (Laughs). Make sure you write that, because I want him to see it. HHC: Prior to coming back for the team reunion, had you ever been back to Lincoln, or ever thought you would be? JR: No. I do have some good friends that I still talk to back there, Larry and Carol Fuerst. I still stay in touch with them to this day, but like I said, in retrospect, I had a great time at Lincoln, and I wouldn’t change that for nothing. Besides winning all those games, who would have known it’d be the winningest team in school history? But going back, and going to Lincoln, then to P.O. Pears for your get together, then the Rail, and places like that which are still around, it was a nice nostalgia to go back and see everyone. And like I said, it’s great when you can bring people back, because that’s what brings excitement in the program, when you bring former players back, not too mention it helps with recruiting. I got into coaching myself after playing professionally following college. And its funny, I seem to run into people from Nebraska everywhere. Played lots in South America, and I remember running into Bill Jackman, who played at Nebraska (1985-1987). I played against him and we beat him, and I didn’t see him after that, but he got there. And then, when I was working at FIU, there was a guy that was recently a “Then & Now,” Larry Cox (1974-1976), who was a professor. He loved coming to the games, and speaking of recruiting, I just remembered something. Like I told you about relationships, I played in Puerto Rico, and played on a team where one of the assistant coaches had a son who was at the time 8 or 10 years old. This kid was phenomenal with the basketball, great dribbler, could shoot, etc. Well, low and behold, after I finish playing and get to FIU, I go back to Puerto Rico and recruit, and I run into Carlos Arroyo, who I know, and his father tells me, “Hey, you won’t believe who has been playing well and who is doing well.” And I went back and he’s playing, and he’s averaging like 30 points a game. He’s got Florida State on him, all these ACC schools, and I thought, “Wait a second, is this the little Carlos that used to tag along with me everywhere and who I used to buy stuff for?” So, I came back, and he told me he was a senior. And boy, sure enough, we got him over to visit the family and he loved FIU because it was close to home, and since I knew his father, he came to FIU. He has a great career at FIU, and he didn’t get drafted, but he played professionally in Puerto Rico, and he ended up signing at Utah and becoming the successor to John Stockton, and he’s played with the Pistons, and is now with the Magic. So great story, as far as recruiting, and you never know who you are going to run into or why you shouldn’t break off ties. One thing I do have to say about basketball and college is that it’s a business, and it’s a dirty business. And that’s one of the reasons why I left it. You really have to also have a big ego to be a coach, and really have to be very selfish, because you give an awful lot to be a college coach. I mean, family goes down the drain. I know a lot of guys who have been divorced, and kids end up suffering. So when I left FIU, I said to myself, “I can’t.” My next job was going to be going to LSU with John Brady, who was at Stanford and had an assistant coach by the name of Kermit Davis whom I know, and I was going to go and work, and then I sat down with my nine year old daughter, and for me to upend her from all of her friends, and she does modeling here and is very beautiful, plus my wife’s been an elementary school teacher for thirteen years, and I couldn’t see moving them to Louisiana and tearing them apart just to chase MY dreams. I’m sorry, I’ve been around, and I think that was enough. I played professionally for six years, and got basketball out of my system. That was the biggest and best decision I ever made basketball wise. HHC: Did you ever see Nebraska play since then or follow the program at all? JR: Yeah, I’ve always followed them. I’m a sports guy. Not only do I follow Nebraska, but I have a long history with basketball, so I’ve got a lot of coaches and players that I follow. Anthony Grant is a Miami High Graduate, and one of my coaches in high school, and now he’s coaching at Florida as the Associate Head Coach. It’s all connections in this business. But speaking of Nebraska, I think you have a good coach in Barry Collier that does things the right way. I think recruiting has to step up a little bit and he needs to get some players. But let me tell you something, he’s done a good job of recruiting, like with Joe McCray. You know, great player, but obviously, after his first year, he got a big head and let everything else distract him, and that happens. What the fans should understand is Coach Collier’s situation. You have guys like that that are great recruits and have a great year, and then the following year, they have to get booted off the team. And the flip side of that is just like North Carolina, when you have guys that are lottery picks from one year to the other and they leave the program, and you can’t blame the coach for that. You bring the best possible players in, and a lot of times, they either get booted off or leave early. That’s the business, and that’s the monster, and if you are a true fan, you have to understand that’s how this business works. It’s not only about wins and losses. Another thing fans have to realize at Nebraska is that it’s not a hot bed of talent. It’s not like living in New York where you find great players everywhere. These guys have to work extra hard to sell Nebraska over there, just like they had to do with me. But I think Coach Collier is a great coach, and if they give him the time, he’ll get the job done. For him to be around all the negativity and for him to turn around and win the games at the stretch there and get to the NIT, I think that’s great, because there are a lot of teams who had a more successful year than he did and didn’t make the NIT or anything. HHC: Very true. We know you played professionally in Puerto Rico for six years, and did a few years as an assistant at Florida International. But, what are you up to today? JR: Well, after I decided to turn down LSU and get out of coaching, it’s ironic, because my older brother is a lieutenant in the fire department in Miami. He told me to come in, and what I did was apply there, but my hard head and personality pushed me to fight up stream, so I also applied at the police department. And he said, “You don’t want to do that. You’re dealing with a headache and confrontational people.” And I look at all these negative things and for me, that just goes along the line of my personality and my whole career as both a player and person. I’ve always swum upstream, and never gone along with the current or flow of the people. Nobody likes cops here in Miami, but that’s my job now, a police officer, after they called first before the fire department did. I think anyone’s career chooses you; I don’t think you choose it. And that’s the one that chose me, and it goes hand in hand with my personality. I deal with people on the street. But with my experiences and travels, I think it’s given me a round about way of dealing with people. I can deal with high and stressful, or very calm. So I’m doing that, and I’ve been married ten years to my high school sweet heart. We have a nine year old, beautiful daughter, who is going to give me grey hairs as she gets older since she’s into modeling and dancing. I can’t complain, man. My college career to my personal life is really night and day, but like I said, I would never, ever, take anything back or regret anything that I’ve done in my career as a player. I stand up and fight for what I think is right, and I’ve always been the type to fight for the weaker guy. HHC: Are you cool with taking some e-mails from our readers if we set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] and tell you how to check it? JR: Definitely, I would love to. HHC: Great! Hey, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us. Anything else you'd like to add or say? JR: Yes. I want to add that I really want people in Nebraska to understand my situation there, and I wish it could have lasted longer. I dealt with different personalities there, but to tell you the truth, and like I said before, the only three guys who know what really occurred, even besides my teammates, who don’t know, are Devaney, Nee, and myself. And, I’m not going to open up old wounds for guys and create problems for anyone, but I want people to know that it was a great year, and I’m happy to be associated with Nebraska, and my college experience, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. And another thing, people like yourself that are trying to stay up to date with former players and bring back tradition are special, because not a lot of people take their time in doing things because everyone is always looking for self achievement and trying to do their own thing. So what you are doing with this website is great, and I also love checking back on the site and just read a “Then & Now” with Coach Mitchem. So, I think what you guys are doing is developing not only a source of communication for former players, but like I told Coach Collier, down here I know a lot of people they can tap into. And recruiting is networking, and what you’re doing is facilitating everyone to communicate and to stay in touch. You keep up the good work man, and I appreciate you guys, you are a class act. Stay positive; don’t let big stories and great things and tales and everyone else’s ideas influence you in the decisions you make. Go with what’s in your heart man, and stay positive; this business makes it to easy to be negative.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  22. Then & Now: Henry T. Buchanan Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Henry T. Buchanan played at Nebraska from 1987-1988, and is one of the more interesting Huskers of all-time, as he served a six-year tour in the U.S. Air Force between high school and college. Buchanan played on Danny Nee's first team at Nebraska, and played an intricate part in the 1986-1987 21-12 and third place NIT team, as he led the team in three-point percentage and was among the leaders in several other categories as the Husker point guard. The former third-team All-Big 8 player is our latest guest in this Sunday's edition of "Then & Now." HHC: Henry, thanks for joining us. Before we talk more about you, tell us what your son Bryan is up to these days, as we know he played a year under Coach Nee and later transferred and started at IUPUI. HTB: He’s working for UPS, and doing some refereeing around Lincoln, and still playing a little basketball here and there. He actually plays with me and in my league quite a bit. HHC: Ron Hunter is the coach at IUPUI, and he'll long be remembered for putting them on the map and leading them to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Is he as amazing a man and coach as he seems? HTB: Well, I can’t speak for Bryan, but he’s here right now if you want to ask him. HHC: Yeah that’d be great. HTB: Okay, here he is. BB: Whatsup Dave? HHC: Hey man, just wanted to ask you about Ron Hunter at IUPUI. Is he as cool of a guy and great a coach as he seems? BB: Oh yeah, actually he is a real good coach. I’d say he was a really a player’s coach. He helped out players a lot, and was easy to get along with. During the game, you would give him a suggestion on the court, and he actually listened to you. Just a real good players coach, and I’m glad I got a chance to play for him. HHC: Talk about what it was like playing under Danny Nee in 1998-1999, the season in which you redshirted and spent at Nebraska? BB: That was probably one of the best experiences I had actually. He helped me develop, because out of high school, I wasn’t really physically gifted or real athletic. But my first year I got in the weight room and developed better, so I definitely think that helped me out a lot in the long run. HHC: Awesome, it was good to talk with you. BB: No problem, here’s my Dad. HHC: Alright T., now onto your career. You went to high school at Muncie Southside High School in Muncie, Indiana, and became the third point guard from there to play for the Huskers in the 1980's, as you joined Brian Carr and the late Jack Moore. Did you know anything about those guys before coming to Nebraska? HTB: Well, I played against Jack Moore and Jerry Shoecraft in high school, and they were like rivals. Moore and I also played against each other at the YMCA in pickup and stuff growing up. And then I heard about Carr when I was in the military, which I of course did before coming to Nebraska. I used to always call back and check on high school sports there, and I remember my friends telling me that this kid was leading the city in scoring and assists for two years in a row, and they told me his name was Brian Carr. I had no idea I’d end up playing in the backcourt with this kid later. Carr was probably the best tandem I have ever played with in my life, and that includes high school, JUCO, and in the military. He should still be in the NBA today, that’s how good he was. Great passer, amazing court vision, and a flat out leader. If it weren’t for Danny Nee forcing me to play point guard and him to play two guard, he would have been the all-time assist leader in the Big 8 in front of Cedric Hunter. But unfortunately, Nee wanted me to be the point guard, and him the two guard, so it was kind of a struggle, as far as trying to make that work my junior year on the court, because I understood that he was a better passer and had better vision than me. Plus, I could shoot the three, but I don’t think Danny Nee ever liked my jump shot because of the way that I shot. I wish I would have played for Nee in the later years, because I think he would have allowed me to do more and put Carr where he should have been. But again, I can’t tell you how great Carr was. And today, believe it or not, besides coaching basketball and baseball back in Muncie, he has his own cooking show. HHC: (Laughs) What?!? HTB: Yeah man, I’m serious, he’s like a chef. I’ve never been fortunate enough to try his cooking, but I hear it’s great from my brother, who runs a restaurant up there and runs into him from time to time. HHC: If we’re ever in Muncie, we’ll try that out! HTB: You need to! HHC: (Laughs) After you finished high school, you actually joined the U.S. Air Force and spent six years in active duty. What made you choose to go that route? HTB: Well, I only had one basketball offer out of high school, because I was kind of a 6th man and a late bloomer. The only offer was a community college, and my grades weren’t good enough, so I decided to go the military route. I worked on F-16 fighter planes, which are still the number one plane in the world, and I did hydraulic systems on that. I actually almost took a job after my service time was up, but luckily I didn’t, or I would have never played college basketball. But one thing that was lucky about the military was that they take their sports real seriously, and I really developed my game. I knew Paul Westphal, who actually tried to recruit me to some school he was at in Arizona, Grand Canyon or something. And then Larry Brown knew me as well, and he helped get me to Hutchinson in Kansas, where I went before going to Nebraska. HHC: Speaking of Hutchinson, you were a teammate of one of your Husker teammates, Derrick Vick. Did you guys agree to go to the same college, or was it coincidence that you both ended up at Nebraska? HTB: Oh yeah, it was definitely a package deal. We both got recruited by KU, but at the time, they had Cedric Hunter, and I didn’t want to go there and be a backup, although Coach Brown assured me he’d take me and wanted me. I had too much pride at that point, and with the campus at Nebraska selling itself, and especially Danny Nee, I chose Nebraska. I will tell you that Danny Nee is a smooth talker Dave, and it was tough to turn him down, as I told you at lunch last week. He just had that military background and made you believe in him, and after spending time with him, he was a person you wanted to play for. HHC: You were there for his first season at Nebraska in 1986-1987, but before we get more into your times at Nebraska, we've got to know; Was Nee mellower in his early years, or was he the same right off the bat? HTB: Oh no, he was most definitely NOT mellower. And, I could tell you so many stories about him. HHC: Please do, because that was our next question. HTB: Do you want the bad or the good? HHC: (Laughs) Both please. HTB: Well, some of the bad was on the personal side. Rich King was one of his big recruits out of Omaha, and of course Beau Reid came down with his Dad and had known Danny from Ohio. And let me tell you, Beau Reid is one of the toughest competitors ever. The guy never took a night off, even in practice, and that’s why the article that he wrote for you guys after the Creighton game was him, word for word. He just never took a day off, and played just as hard against us as he did opponents. But anyway, one day in practice, I was running the baseline, and Beau throws this cheap elbow in my ribs, and I went after him. And they broke it up, and nothing transpired, but then Danny starts ripping me about it, and I had had enough by this point, and we got to arguing. So, he makes the rest of the team start running, and I made some statements about him spoiling King and Reid, and we stood at mid court, arguing nose to nose while the rest of the team ran. So I commented to Danny, and I said to him, “If you just brush against me, I’m going to knock you out man.” (Laughs) So I told him he was messing with the wrong guy, because I wasn’t no kid, and to this day, I will say that he almost got his butt kicked that day. So that was my bad incident with Danny, as far as my playing career goes. But winning man, that’s why you wanted to win for him so badly, because he was one of the best guys ever to be around when you won games, and the worst when you lost. I remember we beat Furman out in North Carolina, and came back and played Grambling and we lost at home. And he made us practice after the game he was so pissed. He was just not the person you wanted to be around when you lost, but when you won, he was the man. I remember winning games under him, and he would buy us Bud Light, and I’m still a Bud Light man to this day because of him. (Laughs) HHC: (Laughs) What? HTB: (Laughs) I’m serious Dave, I used to be Miller Lite, but now it’s Bud because of that. There was nothing better than drinking Bud Light and watching game tapes with Danny Nee. HHC: Priceless! HTB: Yeah, but I also want to say, one thing that people don’t know about Danny is that he preached academics and the corporate world. He may have talked to you individually about the NBA, CBA, or playing overseas, but Danny was all about getting an education, and constantly preached to you about how important academics were, because after basketball, you needed to have a life. And after I graduated, when I was applying at State Farm, I honestly included everyone on my reference list on my resume that I thought would put in a good word for me… Coach Bargen, teammates, boosters, anybody, but actually didn’t include Danny, because I didn’t feel like we left each other on the best of terms. But get this, my boss at State Farm didn’t call anybody except Danny, who told him I was one of the best leaders he ever coached. Had it not been for Danny, I would never had been at State Farm. He still to this day doesn’t know that I didn’t put him as a reference, so I really appreciate him more now than I ever had. HHC: Now, onto 1986-1987, when you guys went 21-12 and finished third in the NIT Tournament. When we talked to Danny Nee a couple of weeks back, he said that the success of that team could be traced to the great Moe Iba defense that had been installed the previous year. Do you agree with that? HTB: I do agree with that. Those guys they had at Nebraska were so good defensively, like (Keith) Neubert, (Anthony) Bailous, (Bernard) Day, (Brian) Carr, (Mike) Martz… But I will also tell you that I’d like to give Gary Bargen a lot of credit too, because Derrick Vick and I came with him from Hutchinson, and we complimented the Iba coached players so well defensively. So yes, Iba was a big reason for our success, but I have to give Gary Bargen credit for instilling that defense in myself and Vick, especially me. I wasn’t a good defensive player at all prior to being coached by Coach Bargen, and he really taught me how to become a stopper and grow as a player and person. And one quick thing about Keith Neubert, and I know this is off topic, but I wish he would have come back out for basketball my last year. He had one of the best shots I have ever seen from 15 to 18 feet, but just didn’t get along with Coach Nee, which was unfortunate, so he stuck with football that last year. HHC: What are your favorite memories of that first season at Nebraska? HTB: Man, just hitting those free throws against Washington with virtually no time left on the clock to seal the trip to New York in the NIT. I remember waving my arms and telling the crowd to calm down, because they were so loud that it made me nervous and I couldn’t focus. But after I hit them, I remember hearing “New York, New York” and having my 6 or 7 year old son in my arms as I cut down the net on that ladder. Man, that was amazing. HHC: During your senior season at Nebraska, you were the oldest player in the Big 8. Did you catch a lot of flack about that from opposing fans and players? HTB: Actually, not really, because there was another guy at Georgetown at the time named Hightower, and then a guy at K-State my junior year that was the same age and had been military. So, I caught more flack from my teammates, who called me grandpa, than the rest of the guys and fans, to be honest. And The Sporting News did a story on my age too, but in the end, it worked out well, because I was like a big brother to my teammates and really took care of them. HHC: And speaking of your senior season, 1987-1988 was a disappointment, as you guys finished 13-18. However, you were named a third-team All-Big 8 selection, and a first-team academic All-Big 8 performer. Which award meant more? HTB: Academics, and I’ll tell you why Dave. Believe it or not, my cumulative GPA from my high school was a 1.59. All I did was play basketball, and after basketball, I never showed up to class. I don’t know what I learned in high school, pretty much nothing. So, to be able to get a bachelor’s in science with an emphasis in accounting was by far the biggest accomplishment in my life. And what I got from the university is awesome as well. They used to have in the basketball offices there, a picture of me trying to shoot a reverse layup against Danny Manning, and under it, it says, “First team academic All-Big 8.” And, I have it in my basement now, its pretty awesome. HHC: And while you guys didn't win a lot that season, you had to have felt that you helped plant the seeds for success of that 1990-1991 team, because on that team your senior season were Beau Reid, Clifford Scales, Rich King, and Kelly Lively. Did you feel like a mentor on that team? HTB: Oh yeah, most definitely. At the time, to be honest, the losing was tough, because I felt like Danny was really sacrificing the senior season of myself and Vick. But in retrospect, I see that he had to rebuild for the next year, and I just didn’t understand what that was at the time. But I definitely think we could have been better at the same time. But that year, we did have some big wins, like against KU when they went on to win the championship. We also beat Missouri. that year, Missouri, etc. But yes, we had a disappointing season, but I understand it more now than I did then, since he was just trying to rebuild and get Scales, Reid, etc. the chance to develop. I still to this day feel we could have easily been a .500 or better team in the Big 8 though, but at least we had big wins and beat Larry Brown and Danny Manning two years in a row at the Devaney Center. And I still let Danny know about that whenever I talk to him. (Laughs) HHC: Oh yeah? HTB: Yeah, and speaking of disappointment, and I don’t want to switch subjects, but he’s so disappointed in this era’s basketball players and the fact that the players today aren’t like they were then. He says he can’t believe how these guys everywhere won’t even play pickup ball, so that just goes to show you that it’s a new generation, and that puts the nail on the head of what Beau Reid said, about how these players think they are better than they are. And here I am, 45 years old and playing against them, and they are quitting before I do. Back then, you couldn’t peel us out of the gym, but it’s just a new generation today, and they don’t understand the work ethic it takes to succeed. It’s a big step from high school and junior college to play at the Big 12 level, and I don’t think several kids don’t understand. HHC: What are your favorite memories of your times at the University of Nebraska? HTB: Oh, the one that sticks out in particular was the game we won against Washington to go to New York, as I previously mentioned. That kind of made up for me missing that shot against K-State in the Big 8 Tournament my junior year, which probably would have propelled us to the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT. I hit that shot a thousand times, and it was an open three in the corner off of a perfect pass from Brian Carr, but I saw Mitch Richmond out of the corner of my eye and just missed it because I lost my focus. We still should have gone to the NCAA’s that year though because we had a better record than K-State, but we lost to them in the first round of the Big 8 Tournament so I guess that made sense. Anyway, the coolest thing about hitting those free throws and sending us to New York was that I picked up my son at that time, which I already talked about. But when he was at Nebraska for that year, they did a feature on him in the program, and I have it in my basement. And they asked him what his favorite memory was of his Dad playing at Nebraska, and he said his favorite memory was that same one, me holding him in my arms as I cut down that net when he was 6 or 7 years old. Off the court, my best memory was going to my graduation ceremony, and having my parents there. I was the first family member in my immediate and extended family at that time to achieve my bachelor’s degree, so I think walking across the stage, and having everyone there, was just great. And then today, I’ve got a niece, brother, and cousin’s that have degrees, so its almost like I opened the doors and set the stage for several relatives to walk the same path. So, I think that was my proudest moment off the court. HHC: And you have stayed around Lincoln since graduating, and we hear you still follow the Huskers closely and play ball against some of the current Huskers from time to time. Tell us about that? HTB: Oh yeah, I have never not played pickup ball. From the Strickland’s to Lue’s to the current players, I play with and against them all. And, I worked out with (Charles) Richardson and (Jason) Dourisseau over the summer, and got the chance to play against some of the new recruits, too. I think they all have the skills, but I think it’s a new generation, and that their philosophy of basketball is different and they don’t understand what they are lacking. I just think its tough to be a leader on this Nebraska team because of the lack of the respect that some of the players have for each other. And, it’s kind of disappointing for some of the older players, I think, who really have that pride and respect of the Nebraska program, such as (Wes) Wilkinson, who I played against in the state games awhile back, and Dourisseau. These guys have so much pride, and I honestly think they are frustrated. I think the new generation of basketball in general doesn’t understand the opportunity that they have been given, as far as playing basketball at the highest level and getting their education. I just don’t think they have a grasp on that. But yeah, I’m a big supporter of the program, but I will say that I was a little disappointed in how some of the new player’s played pickup ball against me this summer, and how they treated each other, as well as the work ethic. I know that when I played, Danny Nee had a genuine concern of what you were doing during the summer. Sure, he knew we drank beer and everything, but as long as you were in that gym in the off-season and working out, he was fine. But if you weren’t doing it, he was on you, because he understood the most important time of the year was the summer. To be honest Dave, I’m not surprised they struggled against Creighton, because Creighton has more pride in beating us than we do beating them. But, the good news is that I still think they can have a successful season, but somebody is going to have to step up. But unfortunately, it’s the younger generation that needs to step it up. Joe McCray needs to change his attitude and start listening to Coach Collier. And I think Richardson and Dourisseau are some of the most laidback people that should be leaders, but you almost can’t blame them because of what they are dealing with. You have freshman who think they are better than they are, and you’ve got sophomore’s who don’t listen. It’s tough, but I think they will pull through. HHC: Let’s hope so. Tell everyone what Henry T. Buchanan up to these days, both personally and professionally? HTB: I’ve been working at State Farm for 17.5 years now, and I’m contemplating following Beau Reid’s footsteps and becoming an agent. I run a basketball league, and I still play on a high level, and run the best league in Lincoln, as far as talent wise goes, at Sports Courts. I run that on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, and I’m still very involved in the community, as far as the Nancy and Tom Osborne mentoring program, and I’m a coordinator for State Farm and recruit mentors for kid’s in the 3rd-12th grade. And this is my fifth year doing that, and I have a kid I’ve been mentoring since 4th grade, so I’m heavily involved with that. I’ve been involved in the LPS graduation requirement committee, and I did that a few years back. I also get involved in interviewing potential principles, K-12. So yeah, I still try to be active and involved in the community. (Laughs) I picked up golf a few years ago and still suck, but I like doing it. (Laughs) Waist of money for me though! HHC: If we set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] , would you be willing to take some e-mails from Husker fans? HTB: Most definitely, I’d love that. And keep up the great work with this site, and thanks for having me.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  23. Then & Now: JF Hoffman Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) JF Hoffman played at Nebraska from 1991-1992, and was a member of the 1990-1991 team that went 26-8. Winning was a normality for Hoffman, as during his two years on varsity, Hoffman saw the Huskers go 45-18 (.714) while appearing in two NCAA Tournaments. A 6'1" guard from Holbrook, Hoffman is our latest guest in this Sunday's version of "Then & Now." HHC: Nice to talk to you again. Did you have fun at P.O. Pears back in February (at the HHC 1990-1991 Team Reunion Banquet)? JH: I had a great time. When I first got the invitation, I thought, “Well, we’ll run down to Lincoln and go through the motions somewhat and come home.” And the fact that virtually everyone showed up, it really exceeded my expectations. I ended up staying longer than I thought, and really enjoyed seeing them again. HHC: Awesome, and good to hear. You are from Holbrook (NE.), but went to Cambridge High School and graduated in 1988. While at Cambridge, you were a C-1 Second-Team All-State performer in both your junior and senior seasons, and as a senior, averaged 23.4 PPG and 6.6 RPG while leading your team to the state tournament. How fun were those days? JH: I had a lot of fun. We were able to go to the state tournament my junior and senior years, and of course, that’s the ultimate goal. Cambridge is a football school, and I was somewhat of a rare commodity being a basketball player in a football town. HHC: You were also an All-State quarterback in high school, and played for the South squad in the 1988 Shrine football game. Did you receive any football interest from colleges? JH: Yes, I did. I actually had a few offers from NAIA schools to play both sports, and I certainly was recruited much harder to play football than basketball. But probably two reasons brought me to Lincoln. One, basketball was my second love. And my first love was my wife, and she was going to Nebraska Wesleyan. She’s a year older than me, so I had to find a way to get to Lincoln somehow, someway. We started dating when I was 14 years old. My wife is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. HHC: Which schools recruited you in both sports? JH: In basketball it was Hastings, Midland Lutheran, and some JUCO’S, which were North Platte and McCook. I really was not recruited to play basketball because everybody thought I’d play football. As far as football goes, I had legitimate offers from Fort Hays State, Midland Lutheran, and Doane. And, I had contact with other schools, and I think it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to play quarterback, so basketball schools didn’t come after me that hard except for the smaller schools that thought I might want to play both. HHC: Did you know you would be a walk-on for the basketball team before arriving on campus, or was that something that you didn't realize until arriving in Lincoln? JH: I had talked to Coach (Danny) Nee because I had been to Nebraska’s basketball camp a couple of times. He had watched me play my junior year at the (state) tournament right when he arrived at Nebraska, so I had a relationship with him, and he’d invited me to come to camp in Lincoln the summer prior to my senior year. So, I had some communication with him during my senior year and through that communication, I don’t exactly remember if I requested or he asked, but we basically agreed that I’d have the opportunity to walk-on. So, before I came to Lincoln and enrolled in school, that was another opportunity I had on the table. HHC: What did the walk-on process consist of back then, as far as trying out for the team, and did you know you were already on the team going in, or was it a dogfight? JH: Basically, there were a hand full of guys, and I want to say three, who were invited. Alex Brickner and Matt Marr were two of them, I think. And, I was for the most part on the team, although there were no guarantees in terms of anything, and I’m talking travel games, practice, etc. Early in my freshman year, I didn’t even get to practice very much, so it was a building process for me. HHC: What was your initial impression of Danny Nee? JH: To be quite honest with you, Danny’s personality was unlike anything I’d ever been around. Here I was, a kid from Southwest Nebraska coming out of high school and we’d had a lot of success, and the coaches and people I’d been around in athletics didn’t have Danny’s type of personality. So, when the blue eyes got open and iced over and the curse words started coming out, it quite frankly was pretty shocking to me. HHC: Did you have to fight to stay on the team from year to year, or was that never much of a concern? JH: The way it was, the first two years for me weren’t about fighting to stay on the team, but fighting for me personally to accept my role. What that consisted of was mostly practice, and even in practice I was not a major part, in terms of game planning and things like that. So, the big thing was, do I stay here as a nobody, not knowing where this is headed, or do I get out right away and go somewhere where I could play, because I knew I could play at the NAIA level, and at that time, maybe didn’t have the confidence that I could go to a good Division 2 program, although later in my career, I thought I could. The big thing for me was to get out on the practice floor and get in the pickup games, and it was a tougher adjustment for me coming from the style and level of play I came from than from a kid coming from Chicago. So, it took me a longer period of time to adjust to the size and speed of the game. HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was 1988-1989, and you sat out the year as a redshirt while the team went 17-16 (4-10, 7th) and made the second round of the NIT. What did you focus on that first year? JH: I stood around a lot, if you really want to know the truth (Laughs). Aside from the drills, I ran some scout team, and worked out hard. I made some big strides physically in that first year or two. HHC: 1989-1990 was your second season at Nebraska, and you practiced with the team, but did not appear in a game. The team went 10-18 (3-11, 7th) that season, and was victimized by the injury bug. Was it frustrating not being able to play that year, or were you still not ready to compete at that level? JH: Well, I can speak for that year or any other year in that I was frustrated I wasn’t able to play, but I wasn’t frustrated that I thought I should be playing. In other words, I never had an issue with my playing time as long as someone was better than me, so I never had an issue with playing time. The bigger issue for me was not should I be playing, but should I be somewhere else playing. In all honesty, the fact that I wasn’t out there on the practice and playing floor getting the repetitions that the frontline players were getting made the process even slower for me. HHC: 1990-1991 would turn out to be one of the best basketball teams in Nebraska history, as you guys went 26-8 (9-5, 3rd) and made the NCAA Tournament (Xavier). How amazing was that to be a part of? JH: It was quite a cast of characters, and going into the season, I wasn’t quite sure that all the egos involved and personalities could gel together. It was very diverse in terms of personalities. And I guess one of the things that sticks out were the pickup games in pre-season and all the trash talking that went on. My background was that trash talking was relegated to only the opponent, and not to your own teammates. And I was shocked at all the trash talking that was going on amongst the players on the same team, although I came to realize that’s the way it was. But from my background, I hadn’t been exposed to that, and in retrospect, I see the competitiveness of that team. There were some unbelievable competitors on that team, and that was the difference. That, and size in the lineup, with Rich at 7’2”, Tony at 6’10”, Carl at 6’8”, Beau at 6’8”, and Cliff at 6’2”. That was a big team. HHC: Definitely man, I was watching tape of that team the other day and you guys were just so long on the defensive end, especially in the 1-3-1. JH: Yeah, we had an excellent 1-3-1 trapping zone defense. You’ve got guys like Cliff and Beau Reid, who was 6’8 and 230, and you’ve got him playing the two guard. That’s a tough matchup. Rich was an excellent passing big man, as good as anyone, and Tony could really run the floor. You had a guy like Jose Ramos coming off the bench who was an incredible competitor, and Keith Moody, a guy who could really pickup the tempo, and not only was that team big, but the big guys could run the floor and the ball handlers could push it. HHC: That season was also your first on varsity, as you appeared in six games and were named to the Big 8 All-Academic Honor Roll. How sweet was it to play in games after two years of hard work? JH: That was an exciting season because the crowds were unbelievable. I can remember students lining up a couple of hours before the game to get a seat down on the bleachers, and really, it was just a tremendous amount of fun being involved in the atmosphere that was involved in the Devaney Center. HHC: It has been said by some of your teammates on that 1990-1991 team that the late-night start against Xavier might have contributed to the loss. Is that just an excuse, or is there some validity to that? JH: Well, I certainly don’t believe in excuses. My memory of that game was that we were sluggish, and that game went by so fast, that I just don’t think we ever recovered from that slow start. It was just too late; we were just sluggish that entire night. I don‘t know how you put your finger on it, because there were a lot of factors; first trip to the tournament for everyone, late night start, although I don’t personally believe that was a factor, and the Metrodome was quite a different environment, and there was a lot of distractions. I remember LSU was another team in the region, and Shaq (Shaquille O’Neill) was there, and we dressed in the Minnesota Twins locker room, so there were lots of distractions, but there are no excuses. The thing about the NCAA Tournament is that you have one chance, or you’re done, and we just didn’t happen to play well that night. HHC: Prior to the start of the 1991-1992 season, which was also your senior year, Coach Nee awarded you a scholarship for all of your hard work. Talk about what you remember about that and what it means to you today? JH: I’m proud of that. I felt like I did have a role on that team, and even though I wasn’t a major contributor in terms of minutes, I thought that I had a stabilizing effect on the team in the locker room and executed on the practice floor in terms of what was asked of me. I got married prior to my senior year, and so I think I brought a level of maturity to the team, too, and I think a certain level of toughness. Even at 6’1” 200 pounds, I prided myself on being physical and executing. And the scholarship was a nice gesture by Coach Nee, and I was grateful for that. HHC: 1991-1992 was your last season at Nebraska, and the team went 19-10 (7-7, 5th) while again appearing in the NCAA Tournament (Connecticut). What sticks out most about that senior season? JH: That team was different from the ’91 team in terms of its personalities. I just remember that probably as a group, we got along really well, and I’m not going to say the ’91 team didn’t get along, but it was just a little more cohesive unit as a whole in ’92. And really, I had a blast that year. We had a lot of guys on the team that I had good relationships with. Chris Cresswell, my roommate. Eric (Piatkowski), Bruce (Chubick), Carl Hayes, were just guys that were fun to be around, and we had a lot of fun that year. HHC: How tough was it to end your career in a loss like that? JH: Well, UConn was pretty good as I remember. Scotty Burrell, Chris Smith, were good and played for them. I guess my memory of that game in Cincinnati was that UConn was a better team. I didn’t feel that way in ’91 at all. HHC: What would you say was your best game while at Nebraska? JH: I’m sure my friends will bring it up, and let me pause and think of what it was… It was the last game in ’92 at the Devaney Center, and it was against, I think, K-State (Editors Note: It was, and a 91-62 Nebraska win). I got in at the end of the game, and we were ahead, and we were in our man-to-man offense, and Dapreis (Owens) had the ball at the top of the key. I popped out to the wing, and we had instructions on our team that if you were going to go back door, you show the fist. I show my right fast, go back door, and he hit me with a perfect bounce pass, I laid it up and in, and it was on Regional TV, and I remember Jimmy Dykes was the color man. I was running by the camera, and I pulled the guns out and waived the six guns at the camera. And Jimmy Dykes the next week in Norman brought it up and we had a good laugh about that. HHC: (Laughs) Nice. What are your favorite overall memories of your times at UNL, both on and off the court? JH: Well, it was pretty fun going to different arenas in the Big 8, and I remember going to East Lansing, Michigan to play Michigan State. I don’t know if this is the time for the Danny Nee story, and I got a lot of them, but I remember we played there, and they had Shawn Respert and lots of other guys, and they started blowing us out of the gym in the second half. And he calls timeout, the place is rocking, and he pulls us out on the floor, way out on the floor, and says, “You know why I called this timeout? Because you guys are playing like (expletive). And this is what we’re going to do during this timeout. We are going to stand here and listen to the crowd.” And that’s all we did (Laughs). HHC: (Laughs) Gosh I love that guy! JH: Yeah (Laughs). Sorry to get off task, but I just remember that. But we had a great time off the floor. Before I got married, I lived with Chris and Kelly Lively, and we did a lot of things together. When you’re on the team, it’s a serious commitment, and you really don’t have a lot of time to be out and about like some of the kids in the fraternity system, so we did a lot of things together as a team. HHC: Which of your former teammates have you stayed in touch with, and do you follow the current program at all? JH: I do. And I stay in touch with Chris, and I’ve been off and on in touch with Beau and Rich, and Derek Lodwig, and Keith. I had kind of lost track of Kelly, but the reunion this year got me back in touch with him, and I really enjoyed that. Obviously, Eric Piatkowski has gone his separate ways, but it was good to see him, and Bruce. I’m kind of isolated from some of those guys now. HHC: How would you describe the current state of Nebraska basketball. Is it healthy, unhealthy, or in the middle? JH: Well, it’s very tenuous right now. ’06 is a very important year, and I think the pressure has even been turned up another notch with some of the change in other Big 12 schools, and I think the perception is that a lot of the other programs are on the up trend, and I think the perception of the Nebraska program is that maybe it’s flat lining right now, in terms of maybe not making enough steps for improvement that people would expect to see. And quite frankly, I think there’s a lot of pressure on the program to win right now in ’06. And, when I define winning, I think everyone who has an investment in the program, whether it be a fan, booster, former player, whatever, defines success by going to the NCAA Tournament. Anything less than that is going to be a disappointment. HHC: And before we get to today, you said you had lots of Danny Nee stories. Can you give us a couple more? JH: Oh I can,. I’ve been waiting for that question. 1990-1991, pre-season, if you remember, there was a lot of pressure on Coach Nee at the time. And he knew it, and he had brought in all these new players, guys like Tony Farmer and Jose Ramos, and it was still an unknown at that time how things would work. And I remember the first day of practice, we come out on the floor, and here comes Coach Nee with these spring loaded hand squeezers, and he’s got these in his hand, and I’m thinking, “What the heck?” And practice went on awhile, and something happened, and he stopped practice and says, “You see these hand squeezers that I got? I have these because my doctor has advised me to use them. You guys are ruining my health, but I’m going to tell you this; I’m not going to get mad anymore. I’ve made a decision that I’m not going to get mad. But I will tell you this; I’m not going to get mad, but if you piss me off, I’ll run you (expletive) until you die.” HHC: (Laughs) Oh my Gosh. JH: And here’s my other one. 1991, we were in the NCAA Tournament in the Metrodome, and we played the late game. We dress in the (Minnesota) Twins locker room, and after the game, X number of guys, 2 or 3 or 4, were randomly selected to be drug tested, and I was one of them. And I remember Keith Moody was one too, and the reason I remember that is they took us into this big shower room, and you had to fill out your paper work and go in with the NCAA representative. And when you went, it was just you two in the shower with you in your underwear, and the guy had to stand two feet in front of you. And you had to drop your underwear below your ankles and pee in the cup. And I remember it because it was so embarrassing and I remember Keith Moody couldn’t pee because he was so dehydrated. So I walked in the locker room and was done, and Coach Nee was there waiting because the first bus left with all the guys, and it was late. So all the guys who didn’t get tested went to the hotel, and he stayed back. And we were waiting because some of them besides Keith couldn’t go, and I can’t remember who else, but they had to stay there and drink because they couldn’t go. So finally, when they aren’t coming, Danny gets tired of it, he wants to go, and he walks into the “goody room”, which was big, and probably 15 by 25 feet full of nothing but treats. We’re talking Gatorade, sunflower seeds, gum, pop, everything you can think of, and so he goes in there, comes out with a case of Bud Heavy, and there’s one guard in the room who had been there the whole time. He walks up to the guard, and I don’t know if he was a Metrodome employee or what, but he asks the guard, “Can I have this?” And the guard says, “I suppose.” And Danny walked out of that locker room with a case of Bud Heavy under his arm and I don’t know where he went. HHC: (Laughs) That guy is classic! JH: He’s a character man. HHC: (Laughs) Hey, what is J.F. Hoffman up to today, and what has he been doing the last 15 years? JH: I’ve been married for going on 15 years, and I have three children. Two boys, who are 11 and 8, and a girl, that’s 3. And after graduating from college, I came home to the Cambridge area and farmed. And I just recently downsized my farming operation and moved to McCook, Nebraska, to take a job with McCook National Bank. I’m still farming some on the side as well with my brother in law. And my life revolves around my children and their activities, more and more all the time. HHC: Sounds like everything is well. We've set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] Are you interested in taking some e-mails from our readers? JH: Sure. HHC: Great! Thanks a lot for your time. Anything else you'd like to say or add? JH: I appreciate everything you’re doing with the website, and really enjoy getting back in touch with some of the guys that I haven’t seen in awhile. I appreciate everything you did to help with the reunion, and the site. And thank you for featuring me on a Then & Now. This is kind of an honor for me!<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  24. Then & Now: Jason Glock Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Jason Glock played at Nebraska from 1992-1996, and reached the post-season in each of the five seasons he was in Lincoln (3 NCAA’s, 2 NIT’s). Glock was part of the 1994 Big 8 Championship team, as well as the Husker bunch that won the 1996 NIT Championship. Glock might best be known for his times at Wahoo High School, however, where he helped lead the Warriors to four consecutive Class B Titles and 90 consecutive wins. Overall, Wahoo was 101-1 during Glock’s four-year career, and as a result, Glock was named 1991 USA Today Nebraska Player of the Year. Glock is our latest Sunday guest in this version of “Then & Now”. HHC: First and foremost, thanks for joining us, and are you still running the “Glock Detassling” service that you did about a decade ago? JG: We are, still getting out in the cornfields each summer! HHC: (Laughs) Well, an unnamed staff member of Husker Hoops Central actually used to detassle for you when he was in junior high school, but he only lasted about four days before your brother Troy called him and told him to “take a couple of days off”. We’ll let him remain anonymous though, but he might do quite a few interviews for the site. JG: (Laughs) Well, I will say that Troy has always been the softie, as far as giving employees second chances, so if you… I mean a “staff member”, were given a few days off, it must have been pretty serious. HHC: (Laughs) Hey, while at Wahoo, you helped lead the Warriors to four consecutive Class B titles and ninety straight wins. How special was it to achieve that level of success? JG: I think it was amazing. At the time, I didn’t realize how amazing it was. I mean, I knew it was exciting for the community and the school, and I just recently went back and looked at some articles. And it’s pretty amazing, just the support that we got from the community. It was a great atmosphere and a great time to be playing basketball here in Wahoo. HHC: So does the feat become more and more amazing as you look back on it? JG: I think it does. We went several years without losing, and you don’t see that too often, but some of the reason that’s not happening is smaller schools are now competing against the bigger schools, as far as consolidation of the classes and some of the big schools (Bellevue West) playing the smaller schools (Ravenna). HHC: Talk about what basketball meant to Wahoo back then, and what it means today? JG: Both schools (Wahoo and Bishop Neumann) had great programs, and they do still to this day. It was pretty neat that we were in different classes, so the districts weren’t Wahoo competing against Bishop. So that was good for the entire community, because we got support from both schools. Now the schools are in the same sub-district, so it’s a little tougher to cheer for both since you’re competing with each other. But they are still two of the best C-1 programs in the state, and it should be another good year, and hopefully both of them will make it to sub-district. HHC: In your opinion, why have we seen less D-I basketball talent being developed in Nebraska in recent years? Is this a coincidence, or is there more to it? JG: I think it’s a little of both. I think there are more activities for kids to do, and maybe a few more years down the road, we’ll see another bunch of kids going Division I in basketball. But, I’d say both. Kids are doing more sports and activities, and maybe not having to look at getting an athletic scholarship to go to college. I know back when I competed, it was everyone’s dream and goal to get a college scholarship to go to school somewhere, and I don’t know if that’s still what everyone’s hoping or not. It probably is, but it seems like that could be a factor. HHC: Who else besides Nebraska recruited you out of high school? JG: The only basketball school besides Nebraska was UNO, and some of the other in-state colleges. I didn’t get any official offer for Division I basketball outside of UNL. I got an offer for Iowa State football, but decided to go with the basketball scholarship. HHC: What was your initial impression of Danny Nee, and did that change or stay the same as the years passed? JG: I think my original opinion was that the guy could really recruit and bring in some great athletes. And I haven’t kept up with what he’s doing now, but the year before I got there was when they had the 26-8 season (1990-1991) and made the Top 10 ranking there at one time. He (Nee) could really recruit the athletes, and I think originally I was a little bit intimidated by him. I didn’t really have the communication probably - it wasn’t always there. But I don’t think my opinion has changed; I think he’s a hard worker, and he tried to get the best out of kids talent-wise, and tried to find the most talent that he could. HHC: How big of an adjustment was it to go from the speed of Class B to that of the Big 8? JG: It was a big adjustment. I played a lot of my high school career inside, so I had to get used to facing the basket the whole time. And the quickness, as well as height of everybody was just significantly different. But if there was one thing that I wish I would have improved more before college, it would be my ball handling. That’s something I struggled with throughout my career. I wasn’t quick enough to be a point guard, and I wasn’t really tall enough to be a forward, so I was kind of in that grey area. HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was 1991-1992, and the team went to its second straight NCAA Tournament and finished 19-10. What do you remember about that first season? JG: I have trouble remembering yesterday. (Laughs) But I’d say that my freshman year, I just remember that I got in a few games, and I think it was down in Oklahoma where the entire team was starting to foul out, and I got in at the end. And it was an overtime game, and I got a rebound right at the end of the game, and I missed a short shot to tie the game or win the game. I think it was that year, although I can’t recall. But other than that, I didn’t get in as much as I hoped, but I was a freshman, and we had a lot of talent, and I wish I would have redshirted that year. HHC: Speaking of redshirting, 1992-1993 saw the team go 20-11 and make the NCAA Tournament, but you took the redshirt to put on muscle in the weight room. How important was that year in your development? JG: I think it was significant. I was able to practice and go watch the games from the sideline, and I worked with Paul Koch who was our strength coach, and worked on my speed and agility. It was just a good learning experience that allowed me to get bigger, stronger, and quicker. HHC: Talk about how special it was winning the Big 8 Tournament in 1993-1994. What do you remember about that? JG: I just remember that we were kind of the underdogs, and just put in three great games. We got on a roll and we were unstoppable. (Eric) Piatkowski and (Bruce) Chubick and those guys were playing great, and it was exciting because it was the first and only Big 8 championship. I think it was a surprise to everybody, although we knew we had the talent and players to compete. HHC: Many people feel that Nebraska “choked” in the NCAA Tournament under Danny Nee, especially in the games against Connecticut your freshman year, and Pennsylvania in 1994. What is your response to that? JG: I don’t know if we choked. I think we maybe came in with the wrong mindset, and were overconfident, maybe. But at tournament time, it’s not necessarily the best rated team that’s going to win. It’s whoever is playing best at the time, and they obviously played better than we did. That happened a couple of times, where we were maybe expected to win but didn’t. But I don’t think it was necessarily choking, I think it was just that they had the better team on that specific day. HHC: In 1994-1995, the team went 18-14 and again made the NIT. However, we’d like to talk more about 1995-1996, and both the good and bad. First, before we get to the good, talk about what led to the player walkout that year? JG: My recollection is that we started to lose a few games in a row, and a few of the players got upset with Coach Nee, as far as maybe the way he was treating them, or playing time. I think there was a practice that we weren’t supposed to have, and Danny called a team practice on a day where we weren’t supposed to, and that upset some players. And it just was kind of a mess. HHC: In retrospect, do you regret being a part of the walkout, as far as what it did to Coach Nee’s image? JG: Yeah, I do. I think everybody could have handled things differently. It wasn’t a positive for anybody in the program, and it made Coach Nee look bad, it made the players look spoiled, and it just was a bad situation for the whole thing. I don’t believe in tarnishing people’s reputation and being negative in the newspapers and stuff like that. And, I think it got to a point with the players where they were trying to communicate with Coach Nee, and weren’t seeing the answers they wanted, and it just ended up in a bad situation. HHC: Who were the two players that showed up to practice that day? Wasn’t Tyronn Lue one of them? JG: Yeah, it was Bernard Garner and Tyronn Lue. I think the reason those two went to practice was because they had to be there the next year, and they didn’t want any grudges with Coach Nee. Those two kids just didn’t want to tarnish their reputation with the coach, and I think the rest of us understood that it was the final year, whether we were seniors or transferring. But yeah, I do regret being a part of it and wish things wouldn’t have ended up the way that they did. HHC: Now, let’s talk about the good parts of 1995-1996. You guys made an improbable run all the way through the NIT, and won the championship, finishing 21-14. What moments stick out most about that run? JG: I think just the roll that we got on as a team. Everybody just put the issues beside, and just started to play for one another and the fans. We got to playing the way we knew we could play, and started playing team ball, listening to the coaches, and went on a good streak there. HHC: Which was a more special moment to you; winning the 1994 Big 8 Tournament, or winning the 1996 NIT Championship? JG: I don’t think any one of the two is more significant. It’s neat that both of those things happened the first time when we were down there. And it’s pretty unique being a part of that kind of atmosphere and that situation where it’s the first time in the schools history for that to happen. HHC: What are your favorite memories of UNL, both on and off the court? JG: I think getting a good education, and getting to know and meet some good friends down there. And even though there are so many new students down there, its nice living in the dorms and getting to know your neighbors and the fans. I’ll remember the training table, the weight room, and the great facilities that we were able to practice, eat, and study in. And off-campus, there’s always the activities on the weekend, that we always had fun with, too. (Laughs) But I’m proud of the education that I got, and the basketball experience that I had. HHC: Which of your teammates do you still stay in touch with? JG: Actually, I just worked on Chris Sallee recently. I’m a dentist here in Wahoo, and he came up and saw me in the dental office just last weekend, and it was the first time I’d seen him in ten or twelve years. And Tom Wald married my cousin, and they live out in Grand Island. And the only other player I’ve seen is Chad Ideus, who I think works insurance in Lincoln. HHC: Finally, what is Jason Glock up to today, and what has he been doing since 1996? JG: I went to dental school for four years, and graduated in 2000. And I’ve been up here with Dr. Martin for six years now. I'm married to the former Patricia Chivers, from Idaho and have two kids, Elle and Marcus and still help run a detassling crew in the summer, which I know you have fond memories of. HHC: (Laughs) Yes sir. Are you cool with taking some e-mails at [email protected] if we set the account up for you and tell you how to check it? JG: That would be great. HHC: Awesome. Thanks a lot for your time, and we’ll be sure to come to you if we get any cavities or need a root canal! JG: (Laughs) Sounds good Dave, and thanks for having me.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
  25. Then & Now: Jerry Fort Compiled By Dave Brandon (Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations) Jerry Fort played for the Huskers and Joe Cipriano from 1973-1976, and is a member of the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame. Fort, a 6’3” guard from Chicago, is third in career scoring, (1,882 points) second in scoring average, (17.9 PPG) and upon graduating, was drafted by the Boston Celtics. Fort recently caught up with HHC to take a trip deep down memory lane. HHC: We want to start by thanking you for joining us and reliving one of the neatest eras of Nebraska basketball. JF: No problem Dave. I’m happy to do this. HHC: Before we talk about your times at Nebraska, tell us what made you choose NU from your hometown of Chicago. What kind of things did Joe Cipriano do to earn your trust, and what did the recruiting process consist of back then? JF: Man, your going way back, picking my brain here. (laughs) When I came out of high school, I actually didn’t have a whole lot of offers. I started progressing my junior and senior year when some recruiters started coming around. One of Joe’s assistants, a guy with the first name Rex, was looking at some of the other players on my high school team and happened to see me. Then, they came back and saw me play in some All-Star games. It ended up coming down to Nebraska or Loyola of Chicago – those were my final two. Actually, one of the things that got me interested in Nebraska was the Thanksgiving football game when Johnny Rodgers was playing Oklahoma in 1971. I also used to get Big 8 basketball up in the Chicago area too, so I thought it might not be a bad place to go play. I think that was also the first year that they had the freshman year of eligibility, and Joe told me I’d have a good chance of playing right away, which I did. Plus, Lincoln wasn’t too far from Chicago, only about 8 hours by car or an hour and a half on the plane. HHC: Most current Husker fans know nothing about head coach “Slippery" Joe Cipriano, who was at Nebraska from 1964-1980. Talk to us about what kind of coach and man he was. JF: (laughs) I think he was one of the dean’s of the Big 8 coaches at the time, so he’d been there for quite some time. Before I got out there, they had Chuck Jura, Marvin Stewart, Stuart Lantz, and some pretty good teams. So, he had some success in the Big 8 at the time. He was from Washington State, and he played college basketball as a guard as well. He was pretty smooth, (laughs) I will say that, as far as recruiting goes. One of the most impressive things about Cipriano was the fact that he landed one of the guys that I still stay in touch with to this day, Ricky Marsh. Marsh was out of Queens, and could have gone to any college in the country. Somehow Cipriano got him out of NYC to come to Nebraska. Marsh left after two years, because he was disenchanted with his playing time and ended up at Manhattan before hooking up with Golden State for a year or so. But getting back to Joe, the fact that he was able to recruit a player like that out of New York was something. Coaching wise, Joe’s offense pretty much depended on personnel that he had. He had a pretty standard UCLA type of offense similar to John Wooden’s, with the high post offense coming off screens. That was good for me, because that was the kind of player I was, so I fit in with that portion of it. We tried to run and push the pace, if we could, although we weren’t really a running team. Defensively, Moe Iba was instrumental in what we did, and I think learned to play a little defense with Moe Iba there. (laughs) We played man to man, in your face defense, although we didn’t press much. They worked real well as a team, Iba and Cipriano. HHC: Cipriano ultimately lost his battle to cancer and was replaced by Iba as head coach in 1980. Did you guys have any clue of his illness while you played, and when was the last time you talked with him? JF: Oh yeah, we definitely had a clue. My senior year, this was right after the draft, and I had broken my leg in a pickup game, believe it or not. (laughs) I never got injured in my four years out there playing, but right before I went back to Chicago from Lincoln, I fractured a fibula in my leg. So, I was going back and forth between Boston and Chicago to see doctors, and I got a call from Cipriano telling me had cancer. It was shocking… Just devastating. He worked at it the best he could, which was great, but it was so tough. He was only 51 or 52, and just way too young. Last time I talked to him…well, what I recall is that he was pretty upset about it, but told me he was going to try and fight it as best he could. He was also concerned with what was happening to me at the time with my leg broken and career up in the air, and genuinely cared about which way life was going to take me after my years at Nebraska. I also remember he was pretty close with Randy Cipriano, his son who later became a coach under Moe Iba, and Randy was in high school at the time; he was a great kid. HHC: Such a shame that had to happen. JF: Most definitely. He was way too young, just way too young. HHC: A lot has changed in college basketball since your days as a Husker. Talk to us about some of the major differences in the game today compared to then, and would you have scored more points had there been a three-point line? JF: (laughs) Let me first tell you that the players are much bigger, faster, and jump higher. (Laughs) All of the above. You know, I live out here in Connecticut now so I follow the UConn team closely, and just seeing what they bring in is just so much more athletic and strong. Most definitely a big difference from thirty years ago. As you said, there was no three-point line back then, and there is no question I would have had another couple hundred more points, so I missed out on that. That was definitely part of my game, the outside shot off the screens, so yeah, it made a difference not having it. HHC: The Bob Devaney Sports Center opened up the season after you graduated, so you played your career in the Old Coliseum. Talk to us about what it was like playing there, and how was the atmosphere? JF: The atmosphere was great man. My last couple years there, we were in the run for the Big 8 title. And let me tell you, the place was jumping just like the football stadium; it was pretty neat. It used to get pretty hot in there when we got around to March, I recall that, but the fans definitely got into the game. The noise was great and it was an awesome group of people to play for. HHC: Your first season at Nebraska was 1972-1973, and the Huskers had a disappointing finish of 9-17. However, in your sophomore season of 1973-1974, you helped Nebraska to begin a streak of fourteen consecutive winning seasons, and during the same year, you began your streak of three consecutive all-conference selections. Tell us what you remember about your sophomore season, and remind us of some of the players who played on that team? JF: Ricky Marsh was one, and we had Bob Siegel, who grew up in Nebraska. Brian Banks was another one of our guards, and Larry Cox really started coming around. So, we had a lot of talent on that team with different players. Even though we were over .500, it seemed like we should have done a little better than we did. By my senior year, I think we had probably less talent than we did that year and ended up having a better record, but its just the way things worked out. HHC: In your junior season of 1974-1975, you scored a then record 40 points in a game against Missouri. Tell us what you remember about that game, and is that your favorite moment of your Nebraska career? JF: Well, that was definitely one of my best games. I recall that in that game, I think I was something like 14 for 20 from the field. (Laughs) I think I remember the stats pretty good on that one… 12 of 14 from free throw line, and had they had the three-point line in there, I think I would have had close to 50. (Laughs) But everything was going in, we executed very well as a team. It was just like...well, being in the zone. That was one of my favorite games, but the games I liked the most were when we beat Kansas. My senior year we beat them three times in a row! HHC: Always good to hear about beating up on the Jayhawks! Speaking of your senior season, it saw you guys close down the Coliseum for basketball games, and you finished 19-8 with a 3rd place Big 8 finish. How close did that team come to postseason play, and how much more difficult was it to land a post-season birth at that time? JF: Well, the field has definitely expanded now. As for back then, I can’t remember exactly what it was, although I think it was 48. Obviously, there weren’t as many openings for the NCAA’s. What was disappointing was that we thought we’d at least get an NIT bid, and we had a great shot at winning the conference that year too. So, that was real disappointing based on the way we played. We actually began practicing for postseason, thinking we were going to get a bid but then were shutout. So, maybe one game would have got us over the hump, who knows, but even though we had a great year, it was a disappointment not getting to play in the postseason. HHC: You finished your Nebraska career as the all-time leader in points, and really helped to get the Huskers on the map. What do you remember and cherish most about Lincoln and UNL almost thirty years later? JF: Well, like I said, I think it all boils down to the people and fans. One of things that struck me coming from Chicago was that people would just walk up and say hello. When they came to the games, they really got into them. So, out of everything, just the people at Nebraska were great when I was out there playing. HHC: Before we get to where you are today, talk to us about being drafted by the Boston Celtics in the third round of the NBA Draft. Where did your professional career take you? JF: I got drafted with the second pick in the 3rd round, and unfortunately, as I mentioned before, I got injured in that pickup game. So, I went back to Chicago, then went to Boston and saw some doctors. I ended up attempting to try out for the fall camp anyway, even though my leg was probably 70% at best. They ended up waiving me. So, I went back to Chicago before the Celtics immediately called me and told me about a team in Hartford, CT., which was part of the Eastern Basketball Association, or a prelude to the CBA. They wanted me to come to Hartford and play on this certain team. There were some folks here in Hartford that helped me look for a daytime job while I played, because at that point in time, you played basketball at night but had to have daytime employment. The folks who were connected to that team were part of Travelers Insurance Company, and fortunately I had my degree and was able to get a job as an underwriter. I was able to do that during the day and play basketball on evenings. The Celtics also had me coming back and forth to practice, since Hartford is relatively close, so I did that for the remaining of that year. The following year Boston signed me to come back into their camp, and I was the last guy to get cut, which was quite disappointing, but I played for another Eastern basketball team outside of Quincy, Massachusetts. I still worked in the insurance business here in Hartford, and then I played in that league and was one of the top scorers. Actually, I made the All-Star team, and then got an offer from the Philadelphia 76ers. At the same time, Boston wanted me to come back for a third tryout, but my sports agent convinced me that Philadelphia was the better situation and to go there. So, I tried out with the 76ers, but that was the year they brought in Maurice Cheeks, so that ended up being a poor decision in hindsight. After that third time, that was about it for me. I still played for fun, but didn’t have any professional aspirations after that. HHC: Finally, where will we find Jerry Fort today, and what is he doing? JF: I’m still in the insurance business working as an underwriter for a company here on the east coast. I had that training back then, so I’ve been very successful in this line of business. To be exact, I’m living in Newington CT. with my lovely wife who I met out here. (Laughs) She had no interest in moving to Chicago, so we decided to stay out here. She was actually a cheerleader for UConn, so we follow the Huskies now. However, anytime the Huskers are on television out here I watch, and I think one year Nebraska even played UConn in the NIT. I also caught them a couple of times in New York in the NIT, so I watch them anytime I might see them on TV, both the football and basketball teams. HHC: Nice. We have set you up an e-mail account at [email protected] Would you be willing to answer some e-mails from fans? JF: Sure, no problem. It’d be great to hear from some people in Nebraska. HHC: Awesome. Thanks a lot for taking the time to join us, and we hope to catch up with some more of your teammates soon. JF: That’ll be good. Thanks a lot Dave.<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">
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