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Glen Anderson (middle) poses with two of his Cyclone players.
Courtesy: Athletics Communications

Former Basketball Coach Glen Anderson Dies

Release: 08/18/2008
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AMES, Iowa Former Iowa State head men’s basketball coach Glen Anderson, who compiled the third-most wins in school history (142) from 1960-71, died Friday evening at his home in Hot Springs, Ark. He was 79.

“Glen was a great friend and he gave me a chance to get into college coaching,” said Arnie Gaarde, a former Cyclone basketball star who was an assistant on Anderson’s ISU staff from 1968-71. “He had an outstanding basketball mind and was well respected by the other Big Eight coaches.”

A native of Kansas, Anderson graduated from Colorado A&M in 1951 where he was a two-time all-conference basketball player. After serving time in the Marines and a couple of years in real estate, Anderson joined the Cyclones in 1955 as freshman coach on Hall of Fame coach Bill Strannigan’s staff.

Strannigan and Anderson helped turn ISU’s fortunes in basketball around, as the Cyclones won the 1955 Big Seven Holiday Tournament title behind the superb play of ISU All-American Gary Thompson. In the following season, ISU defeated No. 1-ranked Kansas and peaked at No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, the highest ranking in school history.

Strannigan left after the 1958-59 season to take over coaching duties at his alma mater Wyoming, handing the head coaching reins to Anderson at the beginning of the 1959-60 season.

Anderson’s first squad with the Cyclones was one of his best, as ISU won the 1959 Big Eight Holiday Tournament title and went 15-9 overall. He is one of just four coaches in school history (Strannigan, Tim Floyd, Larry Eustachy) to win a conference tournament title.

Anderson’s contacts opened up a recruiting pipeline into the New York City area, where he found some of the best prospects from NYC and brought them to Ames. In Anderson’s second and third seasons at the helm, the Cyclones finished 8-6 in league play and recorded upper-division conference finishes. Hank Whitney and Vinnie Brewer both were a pair of New Yorkers that Anderson mentored into all-conference performers at Iowa State in the early part of his tenure.

“Andy was real close to a couple of guys back in New York City,” Gaarde said. “He would go there in the summer and watch all of the AAU tournaments. He had a knack of finding a lot of hidden talent. He was responsible for bringing in a lot of great players from New York, but we had a couple of near-misses too. He got a little-known New Yorker named Julius Erving to pick Iowa State as one of his three campus visits.”

Anderson tapped into New York City to find one of the best players in Cyclone history in Zaid Abdul-Aziz (Don Smith). Abdul-Aziz earned first-team all-conference honors three times (1966-68) and was a second-team All-American after his senior season. Abdul-Aziz, who was the fifth overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft and left ISU as its all-time leading scorer (1,672) and rebounder (1,025), helped pace the Cyclones to a third-place finish in the Big Eight (8-6) in 1968.

Bill Cain, another New Yorker, was Anderson’s final all-conference player, earning first-team all-Big Eight honors twice (1969 and 1970). He retired from coaching after the 1970-71 season where he compiled an overall 142-161 record. In his 12 seasons as head coach, Anderson led the Cyclones to six upper-half conference finishes and mentored five players who earned first-team all-conference eight times.

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