Johnny Orr (basketball, born 1927)

Johnny Orr
Johnny Orr.png
Orr from 1975 Michiganensian
Personal information
Born (1927-06-10)June 10, 1927
Died December 30, 2013(2013-12-30) (aged 86)
Des Moines, Iowa
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight 195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school Taylorville (Taylorville, Illinois)
BAA draft 1949 / Round: 2 / Pick: 20th overall
Selected by the St. Louis Bombers
Playing career 1949–1950
Position Forward
Number 12, 9
Coaching career 1951–1994
Career history
As player:
1949–1950 St. Louis Bombers
1950 Waterloo Hawks
As coach:
1951–1959 Dubuque HS
1959–1963 Wisconsin (assistant)
1963–1966 UMass
1967–1968 Michigan (assistant)
1968–1980 Michigan
1980–1994 Iowa State
Career highlights and awards
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats at

John Michael Orr (June 10, 1927 – December 30, 2013) was an American basketball player and coach, best known as the head coach of men's basketball at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Michigan, and at Iowa State University. In the 1975–76 season, Orr was named National Coach of the Year.

Early life and playing career

Orr was born in Taylorville, Illinois or Yale, Kansas[1][2][3][4] and grew up in Taylorville during the Great Depression. Orr attended Taylorville High School under coach Dolph Stanley and in his senior year (1944) led the Tornadoes to a state championship and a 45–0 record, the first team to ever finish a season undefeated in the Illinois High School Association's history.[5] In 2007, Orr was voted one of the "100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament," recognizing his superior performance in his appearance in the tournament.[6] After high school Orr went to the University of Illinois and was the youngest freshman to compete in three sports. After joining the United States Navy for the end of World War II, Orr returned to the college game at Beloit College. This reunited him with his high school coach Dolph Stanley, who had come to Beloit College as athletic director, head basketball and football coach.[7]

Orr was initially drafted in 1948 BAA draft by the Minneapolis Lakers of the Basketball Association of America, the precursor to the NBA. Orr did not play for the Lakers, and was again drafted the next year in the 2nd round by the St. Louis Bombers. In 1950, Orr played 21 games for the Bombers before moving to the Waterloo Hawks for 13 more games.

Coaching career

In 1951, Orr was named as head coach at Dubuque Senior High School in Dubuque, Iowa, holding the position until 1959.[7] In 1959, Orr joined the collegiate ranks, becoming an assistant coach at Wisconsin.


Orr attained his first collegiate head coaching position in 1963 at UMass, where he guided the team to 15–9 record in 1963–64.[7]


After one season at UMass, Orr moved to the University of Michigan in 1964, serving as an assistant under head coach Dave Strack for four seasons.

In 1968 Orr was named head coach at Michigan, a position he would hold for 12 seasons. His 1973–74 team made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament and Orr was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. In 1976, Michigan was the NCAA tournament runner-up (to the undefeated Indiana Hoosiers) and Orr was named National Coach of the Year. Orr is the second winningest coach in Michigan history with 209 wins.

Iowa State

Orr left Michigan to become the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones in 1980, a program that hadn't participated in an NCAA tournament since the 1940's. Orr would go on lead the team to six NCAA Tournaments in 14 seasons. The surprise move to Iowa State in 1980 came about when the Iowa State athletic director called to inquire about Orr's assistant, Bill Frieder. When Orr learned how much Iowa State was willing to pay Frieder, Orr negotiated the job for himself. Iowa State initially paid Orr $45,000 annually compared to his $33,665 salary at Michigan.[8] Frieder then would succeed Orr at Michigan. In Orr's fourth season in Ames, Orr led the Cyclones to the 1984 NIT–only the second postseason appearance of any sort in school history. The following season, he led the Cyclones to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 40 years. The following season, Orr's Cyclones reached the Sweet Sixteen of the 1986 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament with a second round victory over the number five ranked team in the nation, Michigan. Orr claims this was the greatest victory of his career. Orr led Iowa State to four more NCAA tournament berths before retiring from Iowa State in 1994. He remains the winningest coach in Iowa State history with 218 wins.

Hilton Coliseum

Orr's Iowa State teams won 76.7% of their games at Hilton Coliseum. Under Orr, attendance numbers more than doubled from the 6,000 fan average that preceded his arrival. The school band would play the theme from The Tonight Show as Orr entered the arena floor before each game and Orr would give a fist pump to the Iowa State crowd. Orr coached Iowa State to 20 victories over teams ranked in the top 25 at Hilton, with writers coining the term “Hilton Magic.” [8]


Orr died on December 30, 2013 at the age of 86 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.[9][10] Orr suffered from complications from a head injury from a fall at home.[11]

Awards and honors

Taylorville High School Hall of Fame (athlete) [12]

1969 – Beloit College Hall of Fame (athlete) [13]

1973 – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall Of Fame (Athlete) [14]

1973 – Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame [15]

1973–1974 – Big Ten Coach of the Year[16]

1975–1976 – National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year [17]

1992 – Dubuque Senior High School Hall of Fame [18]

2001 – Iowa State University Hall of Fame [19]

2004 – Des Moines Register Hall of Fame [20]

2011 – Statue erected in Hilton Coliseum[21]

2011– University of Michigan Hall of Honor[22]

Head coaching record


Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UMass Redmen (Yankee Conference) (1963–1966)
1963–64 UMass 15–9 5–5 3rd
1964–65 UMass 13–11 8–2 2nd
1965–66 UMass 11–13 5–5 3rd
UMass: 39–33 18–12
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten Conference) (1968–1980)
1968–69 Michigan 13–11 7–7 4th
1969–70 Michigan 10–14 5–9 T–6th
1970–71 Michigan 19–7 12–2 2nd NIT Quarterfinal
1971–72 Michigan 14–10 9–5 T–3rd
1972–73 Michigan 13–11 6–8 T–6th
1973–74 Michigan 22–5 12–2 T–1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1974–75 Michigan 19–8 12–6 2nd NCAA Division I First Round
1975–76 Michigan 25–7 14–4 2nd NCAA Division I Runner-up
1976–77 Michigan 26–4 16–2 1st NCAA Division I Elite Eight
1977–78 Michigan 16–11 11–7 T–4th
1978–79 Michigan 15–12 8–10 6th
1979–80 Michigan 17–13 8–10 T–6th NIT Third Round
Michigan: 209–113 120–72
Iowa State Cyclones (Big Eight Conference) (1980–1994)
1980–81 Iowa State 9–18 2–12 8th
1981–82 Iowa State 10–17 5–9 6th
1982–83 Iowa State 13–15 5–9 5th
1983–84 Iowa State 16–13 6–8 T–4th NIT First Round
1984–85 Iowa State 21–13 7–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I First Round
1985–86 Iowa State 22–11 9–5 2nd NCAA Division I Sweet 16
1986–87 Iowa State 13–15 5–9 6th
1987–88 Iowa State 20–12 6–8 5th NCAA Division I First Round
1988–89 Iowa State 17–12 7–7 T–4th NCAA Division I First Round
1989–90 Iowa State 10–18 4–10 6th
1990–91 Iowa State 12–19 6–8 5th
1991–92 Iowa State 21–13 5–9 T–6th NCAA Division I Second Round
1992–93 Iowa State 20–11 8–6 T–2nd NCAA Division I First Round
1993–94 Iowa State 14–13 4–10 T–6th
Iowa State: 218–200 79–117
Total: 466–346

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Associated Press. "Former Iowa State basketball coach Johnny Orr dies". Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  4. ^ Brown, Rick (December 31, 2013). "Former Iowa State, Michigan coach Johnny Orr dies at 86". Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  5. ^ "Page Not Found". Cite uses generic title (help)
  6. ^ "Page Not Found". Cite uses generic title (help)
  7. ^ a b c Brown, Rick (December 31, 2013). "Former Iowa State, Michigan coach Johnny Orr dies at 86". USA Today. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Yardley, William (2 January 2014). "Johnny Orr, Coach Who Turned Iowa State Into Contender, Dies at 86" – via
  9. ^ Hansen, Marc (31 December 2013). "Hansen: Johnny Orr was more than a winning basketball coach". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Legendary Iowa State coach Johnny Orr dies". KETV. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  11. ^ . Des Moines Register Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Orr, Johnny – Taylorville High School Sports Hall of Fame".
  13. ^ "Beloit College – Official Athletics Website". Beloit College.
  14. ^ "Hall of Fame – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics".
  15. ^ "Basketball Museum of Illinois – John Orr".
  16. ^ "Michigan coach Johnny Orr passes away".
  18. ^ "Sports Hall of Fame – 1992". Senior High School.
  19. ^ "Johnny Orr – Hall of Fame Class of 2001". Iowa State University Athletics.
  20. ^ "Register Sports Hall of Fame Database - Johnny Orr -".
  21. ^ "Johnny Orr statue unveiled at ISU".
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2017-04-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)