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Reactions pour in to passing of coach Lou Henson

“Many prayers go out to the family and friends of Mr. Lou Henson. Not only was he an amazing coach but he was a very kind person. Mr. Henson in 2013 went out of his way to attend our state championship banquet. Just a class act who established a winning tradition.”

— William Benjamin, former NMSU guard and current Las Cruces High boys coach, via Twitter

“One of a kind person and a HOF (basketball) Coach. Thoughts & prayers to Mary, Lori & the rest of the Henson family. They couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful to my family and I. RIP to the best #Aggie Coach ever.”

— NMSU coach Chris Jans via Twitter

“He was responsible for almost 800 wins in the record book and the most memorable event in our university’s history of athletics: the trip to the 1970 Final Four. … Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary, Lisa, Lori, Leigh Anne, and the entire Henson family. Their family will always be part of ours.”

— NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia

“Lou Henson was a heck of a man and like a Godfather to me. Yes the basketball world has lost a great coach. I have lost a great friend, a mentor, a coach and a confidant. Lou Henson walked into my life and when the ball stopped bouncing he was still there. He will be greatly missed by all of us who cared so deeply for him.”

— Jimmy Collins, NMSU

All-American, 1967-70

“His achievements are legendary, but what is immeasurable are the countless lives he impacted during his 21 years in Champaign and 41 years in coaching.”

— Illinois coach Brad Underwood

“Anything that went on in our basketball program — if Lou agreed, nobody ever questioned what I did.”

— Reggie Theus, NBA veteran,

NMSU coach 2005-07

“He was a disciplinarian. He was very, very demanding, but he taught us a lot of lessons, not only about coaching, but about life — how to handle different situations. He was a man of principle. … In a restaurant, he’d get a napkin and start drawing plays on it. … Mrs. (Mary) Henson made the comment the other day that he’s probably up there (in heaven) drawing plays on napkins.”

— Rob Evans, NMSU player

and assistant coach

“Lou was the only college coach I ever covered who didn’t cuss. He didn’t cuss his players out; he didn’t use profanity. And that was a little different. … He had this ability to adjust to the players instead them adjusting to him. At a place like New Mexico State, you didn’t get those A-plus players. He worked with what he had.”

— Dennis Latta, former sports editor and reporter, Albuquerque Journal

“Of course I was a little bit in awe of him because I was at Ohio State (as an assistant) in the ‘80s when he had some of his best Illinois teams. When I got to Albuquerque in ‘99, and got to know him. … We became, I’d say good friends within the context of a bitter rivalry.”

— Fran Fraschilla, UNM head coach 1999-2002

“Coach Henson became more than a mentor in my life… He believed in me and allowed me to grow as an athlete, but even more importantly he gave me direction in my life and the will to develop an intense work and moral ethic which would prove to be priceless in my journey thru life and it challenges.. to learn how to harvest strong character traits and values was something he would seek from every one of us…he knew it would be gold in our future..

“May God cradle his presence and offer warm comfort to his family and all of those whom he blessed with his touch.. May He Rest In Peace.

“Thank you Coach.”

—Chito Reyes, NMSU forward 1968-71

First, my sincerest condolences to the Henson family. I will not say for their loss, because they know where he is. Lou Henson is in Heaven. Coach will always have a special place in my heart. Being coached by Lou Henson taught me discipline and taking care of the details. I really learned to appreciate the coaching and discipline when I entered the Corporate world. I realize that the only time I didn’t appreciate Coach Henson was after practice running those (@$×÷-) windsprints. We the NMSU family will always love Coach Lou Henson. Be Blessed

— Jeff Smith, NMSU forward , 1968-71

When Lou Henson came to NMSU in 1966 and took over as Head Coach, the Men’s Basketball Team was in shambles. The year before their record was 4 and 22. But Coach Henson 2qw one determined man who thought outside the box.  Through my years as one of his players, he brought together a group of young men that were as different as night and day — we came from vastly different walks of life, cities and backgrounds and he made us one team.  We became friends and family. We became competitors and backed each other, all because he expected and demanded that we do it. And he made us believe we could do it. We walked and played with pride.

This Team Pride transferred  to NMSU Pride and Las Cruces, New Mexico Pride. Lou Henson put our team, our university and our city on the map. The only way he could have been such a great coach was to be a great man — and he was. He demanded hard work, never sugar coated things, and we lived up to the expectations he had of us. Probably most importantly, Lou Henson loved his family and that was evident in everything he did.  He and Mary were the ultimate teammates and I feel for her loss and I feel for his family’s loss. I’m sure his absence will leave a void.

In closing, any success I had in my professional life, I owe to Coach Lou Henson giving me a chance to play basketball at NMSU.

John Burgess, NMSU forward, 1966-70

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