Former IU player, coach Lou Watson dies

Lou Watson, a Jeffersonville native who played baseball and basketball at Indiana University, and later coached the Hoosier basketball team from 1965-1971, died Thursday at the age of 88 in Fairfax, Va.

Prior to his collegiate career, Watson served in the Navy from 1943-46, participating in the Normandy invasion during World War II.

At Indiana, Watson helped the IU baseball team to the Big Ten title in 1948. He was also a starter all four years with the basketball team under coach Branch McCracken, earning first team All-Big Ten and All-American honors as a senior in 1950. Watson was also the team MVP as a junior and senior.

After his playing career was over, Watson coached freshmen basketball at IU in 1951 and ’52, enjoyed a short stint as a high school coach at Huntington and returned to Indiana to coach freshmen again in 1956 and ’57 before becoming an assistant coach in 1958 under McCracken.

Watson succeeded McCracken as head coach for the 1965-66 season and led the Hoosiers to the 1967 Big Ten title the following year.

Bob Knight replaced Watson as Indiana head coach in 1971, while Watson became a special assistant to the athletic director and served as an associate director of athletics from 1976 until his retirement in 1987.

He is a member of both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame.

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  • Jay Gregg says:

    Mr. Watson was a true gentleman.

  • Chet says:

    He also returned to Jeffersonville as head coach. One of his players at Jeff was one Cotton Nash who would go on to set scoring records at Kentucky that would stand until Dan Issel broke them.

  • Gary Grieger says:

    I was honored to have had Lou Watson as my IU head coach for the 65- 66 season. A true gentleman, but very competitive – he remained an IU fan & supporter. RIP Lou!

  • Reggie (was pUKe is the worst!) says:

    Why do Chet, Laffy, and Harvard all compete with each other on who is the best writer/poet/politician? Has anyone else noticed this?

  • Jay Gregg says:

    Watson never coached at Jeffersonville.

    Cotton Nash did play at Jeffersonville one or two years but was All-American at Lake Charles, LA.

  • Chet says:

    Jay, I went back over my old pictures and I stand corrected. The coach of that team was former Kentucky All American Cliff Hagan. My memory transposed basketball legends. Thanks for correcting me.

    You are correct that Cotton did not graduate from Jeff but while there he set several scoring records.

  • Chet says:

    Reggie, would you prefer I write poorly? I write a lot and I have to be able to convey information to people that may be unfamiliar with the subject material. I’m more of a technical manual writer than a poet.

    Harvard is just a gifted writer. Judging by his style I would guess it is not from formal training as much as years of putting his thoughts on paper.

    Laffy just bares his soul.

    Goeff is the Census Bureau or Department of Labor Statistics.

    Tao is the poetic uncle rocking on his front porch talking to the local kids.

    Clarion is a grumpy old man, God bless him.

    There are plenty of interesting posters here.

    I can’t imagine how you see it as a competition. Harvard and Laffy like to argue and I interject sarcastic remarks and talk about my dog. Far from a competition I like the Scoop best when everyone is jumping in the pool, including you. I think you’ve made a lot of great (as well as less than great) posts in the past and I sincerely hope you continue to do so.

  • Jay Gregg says:

    It would be very difficult for Cliff Hagan to have coached Cotton Nash, or anyone else at Jeffersonville during that time frame. Hagan was involved in pro basketball for many years all covering the time frame that Nash was in Jeffersonville. By the way, Hagan never coached at Jeffersonville.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    Judging by his style I would guess it is not from formal training as much as years of putting his thoughts on paper.

  • Chet says:

    I am a mass of misinformation. Let me try this again. Cliff BARKER, who played on two national championship teams at Kentucky coached Cotton Nash his first two years in high school at Jeffersonville.

    I wonder if the rest of my childhood memories are also wrong?

  • Reggie (was pUKe is the worst!) says:

    lol I’m just a high school kid who is very passionate about IU who grew up playing basketball. Thanks Laffy, Chet, Harvard, Goeff, Tao, and Clarion you have made this a really fun website I didn’t mean negative things about any of you at all.

  • Jay Gregg says:

    No Chet, you are just a fool. Misinformation is your specialty.

    Does Bill Griffith ring a bell?

  • Rico Chet says:

    Harvard that was very funny.

    Here’s the whole story.

  • Chet says:

    Jay, yes, it does. Based upon my observations I always felt he was a pig but feel about him as you will. He was not very highly thought of in Jeffersonville.

    Perhaps I am a fool. I’ve found it’s usually best if one does not assign a grade to one’s own intelligence.

    Objectively, I am very well educated, I am checked out on 5 tactical Navy aircraft, I have saved lives as a paramedic, I have improved the lives of many children in my current work, my services are highly sought after and I am paid well enough that I don’t work very much at all any more.

    With my life, I can handle being considered a fool by a stranger.

  • Geoff says:

    I am currently having a memorial day BBQ hosted by my parents with a bunch of IU alum and wondering how many would give me sh*t if they knew I was Geoff from the Scoop…

  • Chet says:

    Geoff, seriously, how many guys do you know that are IU fans, spell their name Geoff, played college hoops, and live in Maine?

    I don’t think you’d need Columbo to figure that one out.

    Enjoy the day. It’s a beautiful weekend almost everywhere, if a little hot. We went mountain biking this morning and it felt way cooler than the 85 my car’s computer insisted it was.

    You, too, Jay. Everyone else at the Scoop, as well. Remember the reason for the holiday.

    It’s a great day to be alive.

  • Rico Chet says:

    Chet’s car on-board computer.

  • TsaoTsuG says:

    Reggie,…non taken, I really do appreciate your comments. You (and those with similar attitudes) do make this a great and worthwhile blog.

  • TsaoTsuG says:

    Geoff…I thought that was you. I’ve been standing next to you and wondered if that could be the Geoff…?

    Please…everyone…do remember those who gave their lives. Many are coming home now and we have a debt of honor with them. We owe them respect and the recognition they’ve earned for what they’ve given us. Please remind everyone at your barb-q.

  • Geoff says:

    Not sure how many of my parents friends know that much about me Chet… Most of these people I see, at most, once per year.

  • Reggie says:

    lol you guys are great. It’s a fun weekend. Honor are heroes.

  • Larry says:

    I remember Watson being the coach when I 1st heard IU radio network covering the IU games on AM radio living in Attica, IN.

  • Podunker says:

    I always thought Watson and John Pont were victims of the times (late 60’s, early 70’s) and the counter-culture movement that emboldened young people (college students and athletes) to first question and then revolt against authority in an attempt to force change ( in Watson’s case, some of his players forced the University to make changes). I don’t think Watson deserved to be pushed out of his job in the way that he was, but for Hoosier fans, the change turned out well, as Knight upgraded the team’s performance significantly and almost immediately.

    As for Pont, I believe he was also a victim of the times, caught in the major shift in American culture, which, in his case, involved race. Unfortunately, the outcome of Pont’s departure from IU did not turn out as well for IU. The football team never really recovered.

    I think Watson was a good man who served his alma mater, his state and his country with integrity and honor. He had a good run. May he rest in peace.

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    Chet, God has and continues to bless me, thank you, but not as a grumpy old man. I am sure he passes judgement on my surliness when I don’t parse words but I live with too beautiful a bride, am too sure footed and simply not moody enough to be grumpy.

  • Chet says:

    HC, very cool. Hope you and your bride had a great Memorial Day weekend.

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