LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Former New Mexico State and Illinois men's basketball coach Lou Henson, who is set to be inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame this fall, was in a Houston hospital awaiting tests due to a weakened immune system.
The 83-year-old Henson became dehydrated last week and spent a few days in an Illinois hospital, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported (http://bit.ly/1IaFP9T). Henson lives in Illinois in the summer months and Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the winter.
On Sunday, Henson traveled to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he has been treated throughout the years after his 2003 diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It was unclear how long Henson will remain in Houston as the test results won't be known for several days.
"He's very optimistic," Mark Coomes, a longtime assistant under Henson at Illinois, told The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois. "He's been a fighter with various issues for a long time. He wants to get to the bottom of this and do what the doctors tell him to do."
Henson will be inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in November. During his long career, he became one of the most respected tacticians in the college game and retired with a record of 779-413, which made him one of the winningest coaches in Division I history.
Henson coached at New Mexico State, his alma mater, from 1966 to 1975, and then spent 21 years at Illinois before retiring in 1996. That lasted only a year, with Henson returning to New Mexico State after Neil McCarthy was fired just before the start of the 1997-98 season.
In a 41-year career, Henson became the winningest coach at Illinois and New Mexico State. He led both schools to the Final Four — the Aggies in 1970 and the Illini in 1989.
It look Henson a few years to build the Illini into a national contender since he wanted to do it with in-state prospects. The first year, he and his assistant coaches met with more than 400 high school coaches and formed relationships.
"We had a lot of great talent in Illinois, and I said, 'Look, we're not going to win for a while,'" Henson recalled during an interview earlier this year, "but we're going to try to build relations in our state. And we did."
By the time he took Illinois to the Final Four, where they fell to Big Ten rival Michigan, all of his starters had grown up in Chicago or elsewhere in the state.
Henson began his coaching career at Las Cruces High School in 1957. Known for his "Lou Do" hairstyle, his sometimes fiery courtside manner and ability to consistently turn out winning teams, Henson found his ongoing health problems too tough an opponent. He retired in January 2005.
"I have always been a very demanding coach," he said at the time. "I expect my players to give 100 percent or they come out of the game. I can expect no less of myself. So because I am physically unable to give my all, I am taking myself out of the game."
Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News, http://www.lcsun-news.com