With a foxhole mentality and a rotation of just six players, including blossoming senior point guard Ahlon Lewis, who has increased his assists from 2.7 a game last year to a nation's best 9.1 this year, Newman's overachievers have beaten Cincinnati, taken Kansas to OT and beaten then fifth-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto. With wins against Washington State and Washington last week, the Sun Devils positioned themselves for an appearance in the postseason, which puts athletic director Kevin White, who has said that Newman is not a candidate to become the permanent coach, in an awkward situation.
Though it's widely believed Newman has virtually no chance of keeping his post, he's working as though there is an Arizona State contract with his name on it waiting to be signed. After all, he has already faced down one hopeless situation this year. "I think about it every day," says Newman. "I think about what kids we need to recruit and what we can do to make Arizona State the best program it can possibly be. Until somebody tells me to unfocus, I'll keep thinking about it."
A Change for The Better
The success of Arizona State's Don Newman, Florida State's Steve Robinson, Memphis's Tic Price, Michigan's Brian Ellerbe and Seton Hall's Tommy Amaker (whose surprising Pirates improved to 6-6 in the Big East after demolishing Syracuse at the Carrier Dome last Saturday), all of whom are black coaches in their first year of running major programs, suggests that opportunities for blacks have improved recently. So do the numbers: Fifteen years ago there were nine black head coaches; today 57 of the 308 head coaches (18.5%) are black. What's more, 27% of the teams in last year's NCAA tournament had black coaches. But are opportunities all that they could be?
"It's close to where conditions are even for everybody," says Jerry Eaves, a black assistant at Louisville. Eaves says the hiring of Tubby Smith at Kentucky sent a message "that the best jobs were open to black coaches, that opportunities are there, and good things are happening."
But other coaches still see inequities, particularly when it comes to second chances. "Where's [former Memphis coach] Larry Finch? Where's [former Tennessee coach] Wade Houston?" asks Oklahoma State assistant Paul Graham. "If a black coach fails, he's not recycled."
The evidence supports Graham. You can add Walt Hazzard ( UCLA) and Bob Wade ( Maryland) to his list of coaches who got one chance and weren't heard from again. Consequently many black coaches feel tremendous job pressure. Ask Bruiser Flint, coach of 20th-ranked UMass, about the stress he felt in replacing John Calipari in 1996, and he says, "I know people didn't think I could keep it going. They said the bottom is going to fall out. I hope I'm successful so that they give other young black coaches a chance."
The Little Lady Dunkster
Terrell (Scooby) Roach has a nasty looking right hand. Two fingers have large oval blisters protected by Band-Aids. A third features a long red scar surrounded by layers of dead skin. When she's asked about these injuries, Roach, a junior guard for Division II Barry University of Miami Shores, Fla., gives an answer that causes an incredulous eyebrow to rise. "Dunking too much cuts up my skin," she says.
Yes, Roach is only 5'9", but she most certainly dunks—with authority. "I've seen a lot of unusual things in basketball," says Gregg Lasher, a Barry assistant coach, "but Scooby is a certifiable freak of nature." Though she has yet to slam in a game, Roach, who's from Nassau in the Bahamas, promises she'll do so by season's end. She regularly dunks one-handed in practice and came excruciatingly close in a game earlier this year against Tampa. On a breakaway after a steal, she leaped high, had her hand well above the rim—and clanged the ball off the back iron. Barry had a three-point lead at the time and ended up losing, and coach Jan Allen issued a not-so-common women's hoops proclamation: No dunking unless we're up 20.