Mike Newell

Men's Basketball

UALR To Induct Mike Newell Into Athletic Hall of Fame Jan. 29

LITTLE ROCK - Mike Newell, the man who led UALR to five postseason appearances in six years, will be inducted into the UALR Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 29. Newell compiled a record of 133-60 in six years as head coach of the Trojans with three NCAA Tournament appearances, including an upset victory over No. 3-seed Notre Dame in 1986. He will be recognized during the basketball doubleheader with Arkansas State on Jan. 29 as part of the UALR Lettermen's Weekend/Hall of Fame festivities.

"It's certainly an honor, and I think it's something that affects the players that played for me for six years and the assistant coaches that helped build the program," said Newell. "It's really a tribute to a lot of people who helped build that program over the six years that I was there."

Newell came to UALR prior to the 1984-85 season after serving as an assistant coach under Billy Tubbs at Oklahoma, and made an immediate impact as head coach of the Trojans. In just his second season at UALR, Newell led the Trojans to a 23-11 record and the first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The 1985-86 UALR squad pulled off what is still considered one of the greatest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, as the No. 14-seeded Trojans knocked off No. 3-seed Notre Dame, 90-83, to advance to the second round. Led by Digger Phelps, the Fighting Irish entered the first round matchup ranked 10th in the country, while UALR was in just its seventh season as a Division I program.

The 1986 NCAA Tournament appearance marked the first of five-consecutive postseason appearances under Newell. The following year, the Trojans won a school-record 26 games and advanced all the way to the Semifinals of the 1987 National Invitation Tournament by defeating Baylor, Stephen F. Austin and California.

UALR made a second NIT appearance in 1988, ending the year with a 24-7 record and a school-record .774 winning percentage. The Trojans returned to the NCAA Tournament each of the next two seasons, losing to Louisville, 76-71, in 1989, and falling to eventual national champion UNLV in 1990.

The Trojans dominated the Trans America Athletic Conference (now Atlantic Sun) during Newell's six seasons, compiling a 78-20 record (79.6 winning percentage) with three regular season championships and three TAAC Tournament titles.

"The thing I most enjoyed was the people - the people who supported us, because we were basically selling a dream. The people bought into it, became a huge part of it, and we averaged five or six thousand a game my last four years there," said Newell. "I am very thankful to all those people that came out and bought into the dream and the fun and cheered our players on, because that's what you have to have.

"We had an administration that wanted to have a top notch program, and we worked hard and it was just one of those things where, having come from Oklahoma, where we'd done basically the same thing, the key was recruiting," added Newell. "It was a great university and a great city, so it was easy to recruit."

The UALR women's basketball team will take on Arkansas State at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, followed by the men's game at 7 p.m. For tickets, call 565-8257.

Print Friendly Version