Famed coach Henry Iba dead at 88 Respected mentor 2nd in college wins

January 16, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Bob Knight idolized Henry Iba, had him to practice whenever possible, made him a special assistant coach for the 1984 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team.

Eddie Sutton welcomed Iba into the gym at Oklahoma State, listened to him, took his suggestions, wrote down his thoughts.

Don Haskins tried to bring Iba into El Paso, Texas, every fall, had him watch practice at UTEP and evaluate his players because, Haskins said, "Coach Iba has never been wrong."

Henry "Hank" Iba, the second-winningest coach in college basketball history, the head coach of three U.S. Olympic basketball teams and still influencing college basketball coaches, died yesterday at age 88 in Stillwater, Okla., where he had coached at Oklahoma State. Services are scheduled for Monday at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

Iba, who had been hospitalized since Wednesday, died of heart failure at Stillwater Medical Center, according to Susan Collins, a hospital spokeswoman. He had been in ill health for the last year. He hadn't been able to attend any Oklahoma State basketball games this season, hadn't been able to evaluate Haskins' players, hadn't been able to get to Bloomington, Ind., and whisper suggestions in Knight's ear.

"Of all the shadows cast over the game of basketball, his was the biggest," Knight said in a statement.

Iba compiled a record of 655-316 at Oklahoma State, which was called Oklahoma A&M when he started coaching there. He compiled a 767-338 mark overall. He coached more basketball games than anyone. He led the Cowboys to NCAA championships in 1945 and '46 and coached the U.S. Olympic team to gold medals in 1964 and 1968.

In an unhappy twist, Iba often was not remembered for his victories, but for one loss. He was the coach of the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team, the first U.S. team that didn't win a gold medal. The Americans lost a controversial final to the Soviet Union in the final three seconds, when twice, while they had the lead, the clock was reset, giving the Soviets a chance to make the winning shot.

If the man on the street remembers him for the '72 Olympics, coaches remember him for much more. It was he who, at what was then Oklahoma A&M, coached the first national power in the post-World War II era. He introduced the passing game that such coaches as Knight embraced, and he was proud of the fact that he never used a zone defense, only man to man.

Fourteen men who either played under or coached under Iba at Oklahoma State went on to be head coaches.

Dean Smith, North Carolina's coach, called Iba "perhaps the greatest coach of all time."

Iba in record books


Coach ..... ..... Games

Henry Iba .... ..... 1,105

Marv Harshman....... 1,090

Ray Meyer .... ..... 1,078

Adolph Rupp ........ 1,065


Coach ..... ..... Wins

Adolph Rupp ........ 875

Henry Iba .... ..... 767

Ed Diddle .... ..... 759

Phog Allen.... ..... 746

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