Oct. 5, 2004
I was saddened to hear the news of Lou Henson's illness. He was hospitalized recently with what was described as a viral infection.
The New Mexico State coach is second among active coaches in wins, with 775 (Texas Tech coach Bob Knight is first with 832). I've always felt that Henson hasn't received the credit he's deserved over his long and illustrious career.
He took both Illinois and New Mexico State to the Final Four, joining a very short list of coaches to take two different schools that far.
To me, Henson is a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame. In my book, he's always been underrated.
Henson's 1969-70 New Mexico State team is considered the greatest in school history. The Aggies went 27-3 and advanced to the Final Four before losing to UCLA in the national semifinals. He led the Illini to the Final Four in 1989 before falling to Glen Rice and Michigan, the eventual champion.
Over his 41 seasons as a head coach, he has led 19 teams to the NCAA Tournament. He ranks seventh on the all-time win list and should pass Jerry Tarkanian this season. He could have retired but instead went back to New Mexico State in 1997.
Loo Doo is a flat-out winner and a great leader, and we all send well-wishes for a speedy recovery.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.