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February 15, 2013

Q&A: NU legend Lue reflects on time as a Husker

Nebraska basketball honored one of its most recent legends on Friday night, as former point guard Tyronn Lue (1995-98) was officially inducted into the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame. Lue will be introduced at halftime of Saturday night's game against Michigan State, where nearly 30 former Husker greats will be on hand to welcome him into the program's most prestigious club.

Lue, a two-time All-Big 12 Conference selection, led NU to three straight post-season appearances and ranks in the top-10 at Nebraska in career points, scoring average, steals, assists and 3-pointers. Following an 11-year NBA career, he currently serves as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.

After meeting with head coach Tim Miles and the Husker players and touring the new Hendricks Center practice facility, Lue took time to meet with reporters to catch up with his life, look back on his time as a Husker and share his thoughts on the future of the program. HuskerOnline.com will have video of Lue's full interview up later, but here's a quick look at what he had to say…

So what did you think of the facilities?

"It's awesome. It's awesome, man. I was telling Marc (Boehm) and those guys, I would've came back my senior year if they would have had these facilities when I played. I still have another year left, I think, so I might come back. Maybe they can give me a redshirt year and I'll play a couple more years here. But the facilities are awesome. We deserve it. The University of Nebraska deserves it. The basketball team, the coaches, they all deserve it."

Have you ever seen facilities comparable to these in the NBA?

"Not like this. They were asking me about the Boston Celtics' facility; we've got one of the worst facilities in the NBA, probably in college too. It's terrible. This facility is awesome. I mean, it's unbelievable."

What's it like to be back on the Devaney Center court again?

"It was a great feeling. I haven't been there for a while. I have lot of good memories there. I just had a chance to talk to the guys, the younger guys. I remember when Erick Strickland came back and talked to us when he went to the NBA and came back and talked to the guys. Hopefully I could be influential to a lot of those guys. Who knows what their career holds, but hopefully they can continue to grow and get a chance to play in the NBA and get a chance to follow their dreams."

Do you think you'll try to make it back more often, assuming you're schedule allows it?

"I'm going to. I told them that on the court, actually. I had a good relationship with Doc Sadler. He text me today and told me congratulations. I talk to him probably once a month. Doc's a great guy. Having a chance to talk to Tim, as soon as he got the job he gave me a call and talked to me. He's a great guy. Doc's gone, but he's a great guy to fill in. They have the same personality. I don't know him much as a coach, but I'm sure I'll get to know him as a coach. They say he's done a great job here, so hopefully they'll continue to grow. I heard he's a great recruiter, so hopefully we can win our first NCAA (Tournament) game pretty soon."

What does it mean to you to be inducted into the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame?

"It means a lot. It means a lot to me and means a lot to my teammates; it means a lot to my family and friends. I wouldn't be in this position without those guys. They say 'Oh you scored a lot of points. You did this…' But I had a lot of great teammates. We had five of us in the top-11 in scoring in Nebraska history with Jaron Boone, Erick Strickland, Venson Hamilton and Cookie Belcher, so they made my job easy. They allowed me to come in and play my game and be a leader and shoot all the balls. Any time you've got a point guard - what do I have, the single-season record for most shot attempts or something like that? Anytime you have teammates that allow that and coaches allow that, it was a great fit for me. It's a great accomplishment, and like I said, I owe a lot to my family and friends and coaches and my teammates."

You were being recruited pretty heavily by schools like Memphis, Arkansas and Oklahoma towards the end of your recruiting process. Did you ever get tempted to look at other schools?

"I was tempted. One of my good friends from high school, Derek Hood, went to Arkansas. He was pulling me, pulling me, pulling me, and Coach (Jimmy) Williams gave me a lot of stuff about that. He didn't talk to me for three months I think. He offered me a scholarship, and I turned it down the first time. He was like, 'What do you mean you turned it down?' I was like, 'Well, I just want to look at some other schools and just weigh my options or whatever.' He didn't talk to me from November to January. When he finally called me, he was like, 'I was so mad at you. You turned down a scholarship to Nebraska. That's like a girl turning down a date to the prom and she didn't have a date the first time.' He was mad about that, but sometimes it's good to be wanted. Coming out of high school and being good friends with Chauncey Billups and (Kevin) Garnett and those guys were top-five players in the country, and you don't get the same recognition, sometimes you just want to be wanted. I think that's what happened when I started getting recruited by Missouri, Arkansas, Memphis. Like I said, I was loyal to Nebraska because they were loyal to me. When I didn't pass my ACT test the first time, a lot of schools stopped recruiting me. Once I passed it, they tried to come back and try to recruit me after that. I stuck with Nebraska because Coach (Danny) Nee and Coach Williams called me every day and told me they'd take me as a Prop 48. So I just stuck with them because they stuck with me, and it was a great decision for me."

Has making the Hall of Fame sunk in yet, or will it truly sink in during tomorrow night's halftime ceremony?

"Yeah, I think so. Like I said, it's a great accomplishment. I've been out on the road and have written my speech like 30 times, so I hope they don't take offense to me reading off the cards, but I don't want to forget anyone. It's an important night for me, it's an important night for all the people around me, so I just want to make sure I say all the right things and don't forget anyone and don't miss out on anything. It's a great honor, and like I said, I'm happy to be here."

When was the last time you were back here for a game

"I think maybe my second year in the NBA (1999-2000)? Me and Eric Piatkowski came back, and I know we shot some half-court shots, and I shot an air ball. He almost made it, and I shot an air ball from half court. That was kind of embarrassing. But that was the last time I've been back for a game."

How often do you still think about your time at Nebraska

"All the time, because I still talk to my friends. I'm real close with Venson Hamilton, Bernard Gardner, Cookie Belcher, Alvin Mitchell, so we always talk about school. I talk to Eric Warfield and Octavious McFarlin. He came to a game in San Antonio the other day. I talk to Kenny Cheatham and those guys. We always talk about Nebraska. Then in the Big 12, all the guys always come and want to bet. Paul Pierce is like, 'Kansas versus Nebraska! You want to bet $100?' I'm not going to bet that. We've always got to hear that, Kansas vs. Nebraska. (Celtics point guard) Avery Bradley, Texas vs. Nebraska. It always comes up, so it's never going to leave my mind. It's a start to me being a man, you know, leaving high school and coming here, maturing and turning into a man, it all started here at Nebraska."

What do you think about when you look back on your high school career at Raytown (Mo.) High School?

"Bad things. I remember us being undefeated at 27-0 and then losing the last game of the season, which was tough on me and my teammates. It was kind of like the same position when I was here at Nebraska, having a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament, playing Arkansas and being up by 10 points at halftime and not being able to will our team through. I took a lot of responsibility for that, and it was kind of the same thing in high school: 27-0, playing against Derek Hood at Central in double-overtime game, and I wasn't able to will my team through. It was the same thing in high school as it was at Nebraska, because I wanted to be the first one to give our college the chance to win our first NCAA game for Coach Nee and for our fans and for my teammates, and we weren't able to do that. So I think about that all the time."

You talked about your bad memories. What is your favorite memory from your time as a Husker?

"It's a great memory for me, but it's kind of bad for other guys. But just being a freshman and coming here and having the opportunity to get a scholarship and being the starting point guard as a freshman. When our team had to boycott against Coach Nee, I think me and Bernard Gardner, just being a leader and just being a strong enough person to do the right thing, that's always been my biggest thing. Coach Nee gave me a scholarship to come here to Nebraska and it was a great opportunity, and I didn't want to mess that up. When you start trying to get guys fired, that's guys' livelihood. I'm just glad I was a big enough person to stand up on my own, me and Bernard, and do the right thing. That's what I think about the most at Nebraska, because I could've easily went the other way. But I wanted to stick by Coach and do the right thing. That's what stands out to me."


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