Written By: Bill Harty
Saturday brought us to a series of basketball events to the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. First, the NMSU women continued to learn new coach Mark Trakh’s system against Louisiana Tech’s Lady Techsters, a traditional power in women’s hoops. The first half was close, but two 15-0 Tech second half runs, and the loss of point guard Kaitlyn Soto to a career-ending ACL injury made the second half depressing for Aggie fans.
Next was the Aggie Athletic Club’s eightieth birthday party for legendary coach Lou Henson, held in the arena’s practice gym. Some of Coach’s history at New Mexico State has been discussed here in Sam Wasson’s Legends post (with a good photo), and in another earlier post of mine. Lou Henson’s status in Las Cruces is truly legendary, not just for his basketball accomplishments. Henson was a JC transfer to NMSU in the mid-50s, playing for long-time Aggie baseball and basketball coach Presley Askew. After graduation, he found work at Las Cruces High School, teaching math and coaching basketball. It is a tribute to his skills at the former that many of his students discussing him today talk about math classes before basketball. Of course, he excelled at coaching basketball, winning three consecutive state championships in 1959-61. After that, he was given a shot at university division (now division I) coaching at Hardin-Simmons in Abilene, Texas. His success there in just four years, winning 20 games twice, placed him in their hall of fame. Interestingly enough, he also had an offer to assist Bob King at the University of New Mexico, but turned it down as Hardin-Simmons had agreed to integration of the team roster. He almost was a Lobo. Continue Reading This Post >>