John M. "Johnny " Orr (born June 10, 1927, in Yale, Kansas), a retired American basketball player and coach who starred at all three levels--high school, collegeiate, and professional. He best known as the basketball coach at Michigan and Iowa State.
Orr emerged as a significant player in 1944, whe under Coach Dolph Stanley he led Taylorville High School in Illinois to 45 consecutive victories, as the team became state's first undefeated basketball champion. He scored 64 points in tournament games, and in the title match against Elgin scored 17 points. One of his teammates was the great Ron Bontemps, who later built a career as an AAU star.
After a year at the University of Illinois, where Orr won Big Ten honors in both basketball and football, he entered the Marine Corps. In 1946, he rejoined Dolph Stanley, now coaching at Beloit College, and helped lead the school's rise to national basketball prominence.
Named most valuable player three successive years, Orr was a three-time All Midwest conference and a two-time All NAIB choice. His 1,347 points rank him as Beloit’s second all-time scorer. In his final year at Beloit, he was joined on the team by his old teammate from Taylorville, Ron Bontemps. In addition to excelling in basketball, he won two football letters.
Orr was drafted in the 1948 BAA draft by the Minneapolis Lakers. Orr remained at Beloit for one more year and did not play for the Lakers. He was drafted the next year in the 2nd round by the St. Louis Bombers of the National Basketball League. In 1950, Orr played 21 games for the Bombers before moving to the Waterloo Hawks for 13 more games.
During the 1950s, Orr served as the head coach at Dubuque Senior High School in Dubuque, Iowa. He then moved to the college ranks, and worked as an assistant coach for many years, notably at Wisconsin. Orr attained a head coaching position in 1963 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, commonly known as UMass, and guided the team to 15-9 record in 1963-64.
Off left coaching in 1966 to become an insurance executive, but after one year moved to the University of Michigan as an assistant under Dave Strack. He was named head coach in 1969. 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 remains the winningest coach in Michigan history with 209 wins and only 113 losses.
Orr joined the Iowa State Cyclones in 1980. The move came about when the Iowa State Athletic Director called him 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 (Frieder then succeeded Orr at Michigan). In Orr's fifth season in Ames, 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 and 200 losses.
In 1992, Orr had his career story told in hardover, with a book by Gene McGivern, called Here's Johnny Orr.