January 10, 1932 |
|1950–1954||New Mexico State|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1966–1975||New Mexico State|
|1997–2005||New Mexico State|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|2 NCAA Regional Championships – Final Four (1970, 1989)
1 Big Ten Conference Regular Season Championship (1984)
1 Big West Conference Regular Season Championship (1999)
1 Big West Conference Tournament Championship (1999)
|Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year (1993)|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2015
Lou Henson (born January 10, 1932) is a former college basketball coach. He retired as the all-time leader in victories at the University of Illinois with 423 victories and New Mexico State with 289 victories. Overall Henson won 779 games, putting him in sixteenth place on the all-time list. Henson is also one of only four NCAA coaches to have amassed at least 200 total wins at two institutions. On February 17, 2015, Henson was selected as a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. In August 2015, prior to the reopening of the newly renovated State Farm Center at the University of Illinois, the hardwood floor was dedicated and renamed Lou Henson Court in his honor.
He started coaching in the college ranks in 1962 at Hardin-Simmons University. As a condition of taking the Hardin-Simmons job, Henson insisted that the team (and thus the school) be racially integrated, a condition to which the university agreed. In 1966, he took over at his alma mater, New Mexico State University. In his first season at NMSU, the Aggies rebounded from a 4–22 record in the prior season to finish 15–11 and went to the NCAA Tournament. In 1970, Henson would help lead the Aggies to the Final Four for the only time in the school's history. Henson and future NBA players Jimmy Collins, Sam Lacey, and Charlie Criss lost in the tournament semifinal to eventual champion UCLA, the third time in three years the Aggies lost to UCLA in the tournament. Henson coached at New Mexico State for nine seasons, with six trips to the NCAA Tournament and four twenty-win seasons.
In 1975, Henson moved to the University of Illinois to replace Gene Bartow, after Bartow left Illinois to replace John Wooden at UCLA. He would lead the Fighting Illini to the 1989 Final Four. In 21 years at Illinois, Henson garnered 423 wins and 224 losses (.654 winning percentage), and with a record of 214 wins and 164 losses (.567) in Big Ten Conference games. The 214 wins in Big Ten games were the third highest total ever at the time of his retirement. At Illinois, Henson coached many future NBA players, including Eddie Johnson, Derek Harper, Ken Norman, Nick Anderson, Kendall Gill, Kenny Battle, Marcus Liberty, Steve Bardo, and Kiwane Garris and was known for his trademark, Lou-Do.
In 1997, Henson returned to New Mexico State as interim head coach after Neil McCarthy was abruptly fired before the start of the season. Henson wanted to donate his time, but was told that state law didn't allow him to coach for free. He finally accepted a nominal salary of $1 per month. After a successful season, he was given his old job back on a permanent basis. His 1998–99 team won the Big West regular season and tournament titles—notably, the first time in Henson's career that he had won a conference tournament. He retired for good midway through the 2004–05 season due to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. His second stint allowed him to regain his standing as New Mexico State's all-time winningest coach, passing McCarthy.
In July 2007, Henson announced that he was again undergoing chemotherapy for the same strain of lymphoma that he had battled four years previously. He was undergoing treatment in Champaign, Illinois, where he lives in the summer. In July 2015, Henson once again entered chemotherapy for "bone marrow problems."
Head coaching record
|Hardin–Simmons Cowboys () (1962–1966)|
|New Mexico State Aggies (Independent) (1966–1970)|
|1966–67||New Mexico State||15–11|
|1967–68||New Mexico State||23–6||NCAA Far West Regional|
|1968–69||New Mexico State||24–5||NCAA Far West Regional|
|1969–70||New Mexico State||27–3||NCAA Final Four|
|New Mexico State Aggies (Missouri Valley Conference) (1970–1975)|
|1970–71||New Mexico State||19–8||0–0‡||NCAA First Round|
|1971–72||New Mexico State||19–6||0–0‡|
|1972–73||New Mexico State||12–14||6–7||T–4th|
|1973–74||New Mexico State||14–11||7–6||T–3rd||NCAA 1st Round|
|1974–75||New Mexico State||20–7||11–3||2nd||NCAA 1st Round|
|New Mexico State:||173–71||24–16||
‡ NMSU ineligible for conference championship
|Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten Conference) (1975–1996)|
|1979–80||Illinois||22–13||8–10||6th (T)||NIT 3rd Place|
|1980–81||Illinois||21–8||12–6||3rd||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1981–82||Illinois||18–11||10–8||6th||NIT 2nd Round|
|1982–83||Illinois||21–11||11–7||2nd (T)||NCAA 1st Round|
|1983–84||Illinois||26–5||15–3||1st (T)||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1984–85||Illinois||26–9||12–6||2nd||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1985–86||Illinois||22–10||11–7||4th (T)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1986–87||Illinois||23–8||13–5||4th||NCAA 1st Round|
|1987–88||Illinois||23–10||12–6||3rd (T)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1988–89||Illinois||31–5||14–4||2nd||NCAA Final Four|
|1989–90||Illinois||21–8||11–7||4th (T)||NCAA 1st Round|
|1992–93||Illinois||19–13||11–7||3rd (T)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1993–94||Illinois||17–11||10–8||4th (T)||NCAA 1st Round|
|1994–95||Illinois||19–12||10–8||5th (T)||NCAA 1st Round|
|1995–96||Illinois||18–13||7–11||9th||NIT 1st Round|
|New Mexico State Aggies (Big West Conference) (1997–2000)|
|1997–98||New Mexico State||18–12||8–8*||7th (T)|
|1998–99||New Mexico State||23–10||12–4||1st||NCAA 1st Round|
|1999–00||New Mexico State||22–10||11–5||7th||NIT 1st Round|
|New Mexico State Aggies (Sun Belt Conference) (2000–2005)|
|2000–01||New Mexico State||14–14||10–6||2nd West (T)|
|2001–02||New Mexico State||20–12||11–4||1st West (T)|
|2002–03||New Mexico State||20–9||9–6||2nd West|
|2003–04||New Mexico State||13–14||6–9||4th West (T)|
|2004–05||New Mexico State||5–13†||1–4||6th West|
|New Mexico State:||135–86||66–46||
* Record vacated due to NCAA infractions.
National champion Postseason invitational champion
- List of college men's basketball coaches with 600 wins
- List of NCAA Men's Division I Final Four appearances by coach
- Lou Henson Award
- "Henson headed to College Basketball Hall of Fame". Nex Mexico State DIA. 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- "Coach Lou Henson Selected to National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame". University of Illinois DIA. 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- Tate, Loren (2010-02-17). "Tate: Henson helped break basketball color barrier". The News-Gazette (Champaign, Ill.). Retrieved 2016-02-17.
- Supinie, John (2012-01-10). "Supinie: What does Lou have to do to get into the Hall?". Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.). Retrieved 2016-02-17.
- "Ex-NMSU, Illinois coach Henson back in chemotherapy". CBS Sportsline. Associated Press. 25 July 2007.
- "Lou Henson to coach House team in charity hoops game". Santa Fe New Mexican. February 3, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2014.