Sports Desk: Hall of Fame basketball coach Lou Henson dies

FOX New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Hall of Fame college basketball coach Lou Henson has died of cancer at the age of 88. Henson died at his home in Champaign, Illinois Saturday. He coached at New Mexico State and the University of Illinois and racked up more career wins than any coach at both programs. Henson also led both programs to Final Four appearances. He won 779 games against 413 losses and is sixth on the all-time career wins list in Division 1 college basketball.

The University of New Mexico’s current men’s basketball coach Paul Weir spent time with Henson at New Mexico State University and remembers a very kind coach who knew the game well. “I saw a man with a incredible competitive drive and someone who pushed me on a daily basis, about my coaching, about my strategies, things I did, was very forceful in ways and taught me a lot,” said Weir.

Lobo assistant coach Brandon Mason played for Henson during his second stretch at NMSU in the ’90s and remembers a man you could always rely on. “Some coaches have that aura of where you’re kind of scared to talk to them, you know like they are so big time,” said Mason. “With Lou, I had a relationship with him where I could talk to him and go in his office. I could confide in him no matter what time it was and I really appreciated that.”

Henson, who also played at NMSU when it was known as New Mexico A&M, first coached at the school from 1966 to 1975. Prior to that Henson coached at Las Cruces high school. He left NMSU for the University of Illinois in 1975 and would stay there for 21 seasons before returning to the Aggies. Henson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2003. He would have up and down battles with the illness for the rest of his life. Henson was inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. He was 88 years old.

In other sports, UNM football is hoping to swap a couple of dates on its 2020 schedule. The Lobos were originally scheduled to meet Idaho State at home in their season opener on August 29. If the Lobos are able to change the dates, they will play New Mexico State in the season opener and play Idaho State on September 19, when they would have played the Aggies. The change would buy the Lobos more time in dealing with state health guidelines due to COVID-19. Currently, anyone entering New Mexico from out of state has to quarantine for 14 days.

New Mexico United has been dealing with the quarantine rules and it has kept them on the road. United is at OKC Energy Saturday. Injuries have hit New Mexico United early, but it doesn’t seem to matter since the team appears to be deep in talent.

“No matter the result on the weekend, there are guys still pushing for their spot in the starting 11, their spot in the 18 that travel,” said New Mexico United head coach Troy Lesesne. “That type of internal competition is what’s going to spill over into us having a group that, no matter who steps up at what time, we’re going to be in the position, I hope, to compete for three points every single week.”

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chad Kelly has been suspended eight games by Major League Baseball for throwing at members of the Houston Astros in a 5-2 victory Tuesday. Kelly started the festivities by throwing a 95 miles per hour pitch at the head of Albuquerque Academy grad Alex Bregman.

UNM junior Weini Kelati has picked up another award. Kelati was named Mountain West Female Athlete of the Year Wednesday after dominating cross country and track and field this past season.

Lastly, Zayvier Hartman is the latest Clovis Wildcats athlete to find his spot in The Lost Season. The hard-throwing pitcher will continue his athletic and academic career at Becker College next season.

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