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Well-traveled Newman has Arizona State in NIT semifinals

November 26, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ To say Don Newman has been around would be sort of an understatement.

At various times, Newman passed through the Boston Celtics of the NBA and Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets of the NFL. He played for six years as an undersized defensive back in the Canadian Football League and three years in the Continental Basketball Association.

Had enough? Newman, who coaches Arizona State in tonight’s Preseason NIT semifinal against No. 2 Kansas after Florida State plays No. 11 Connecticut, was just getting warmed up.

From 1985-87, he was an assistant football coach at Lewiston, Idaho, High School and an assistant football coach at Moscow, Idaho, High School. He also was managing the shoe department in a local store.

``I had to put food on the table,″ he said matter-of-factly. ``You appreciate what needs to be done. These are the things you do. I paid the price. I believed it.″

There were six seasons as an assistant coach at Washington State, followed by six seasons coaching Cal State-Sacramento, shepherding the program from Division II to Division I. Without a conference affiliation, his team spent most of its time on the road, playing in 22 states.

``It was tough,″ he said. ``Every big name team wants to bring you in for big money and beat your brains out. One year, I think we played 22 of 27 games on the road.″

So when the chance to move to Arizona State as an assistant came up, Newman grabbed it. Then Bill Frieder resigned and the next thing Newman knew, he was the interim head coach for this season.

``I think my first name is Interim now,″ he said. ``I’ve got to check my birth certificate.″

Newman got off to quick start with three wins, beating Cincinnati on the road _ where else? _ to reach the NIT semifinals. The next assignment is No. 2 Kansas. Newman is excited about the opportunity.

``Playing Cincinnati and then Kansas, both in the road, somehow down the road that helps your club,″ he said.

Newman is preparing for a Pac-10 season of duels against teams like UCLA and Arizona, two of the last three NCAA tournament champions. He warms up with a Kansas team that aspires to that title.

Roy Williams likes what the Jayhawks have done through four games, but thinks they are capable of more.

``I don’t know if anybody is playing as well as they want to, yet,″ he said. ``This is an opportunity to play two more games and find out more about our team.″

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun and Steve Robinson, in his first season at Florida State, view the Preseason NIT the same way.

``We’re a young team, trying to find ourselves,″ Calhoun said of the No. 11 Huskies. ``We’re overrated. We shouldn’t be in the top 25.

``This tournament gives us a barometer, an opportunity as a young team to play some games. It’s good for us to get a true look at our team.″

Robinson, who took Tulsa to a third-place finish in this tournament last year, is still getting a feel for his new team at Florida State.

``When I took the job at Tulsa, I told people it was like taking an IV into the kids’ arms,″ he said. ``Now, it’s like taking two IVs, one in each arm.″

And how is the progress?

``We’re still injecting,″ Robinson said.

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