UT Permian Basin men’s basketball has enjoyed tremendous success over the past two seasons. The Falcons went 26-6 overall and won their first Lone Star Conference Championship in program history which led to their first ever appearance in the NCAA DII tournament in 2017. UTPB followed that season with another first in program history advancing to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA DII tournament and finished 26-7 overall in 2018.
When the winningest head coach in program history, Andy Newman, left in the offseason to return to his home state of California and become the head coach of NCAA DI Cal State San Bernardino, the Falcons turned to another coach known for building a successful NCAA DII program.
UTPB hired former Arkansas-Fort Smith head coach Josh Newman in June and he brought with him a history of success.
In 12 seasons at UAFS, Newman built the Lions into a national powerhouse in the NJCAA ranks. Newman also successfully transitioned UAFS from the JUCO ranks to NCAA DII where he went 168-96 in nine seasons.
Newman also won five Heartland Conference championships, one Heartland Conference tournament championship, and made four trips to the NCAA tournament in the last five seasons with the Lions. But when Newman arrived at UTPB, he inherited a team in a complete rebuilding process.
Along with the departure of the head coach, the Falcons had no players returning from the previous season. Even with the recent success of the program, the winning culture that had been built suddenly departed.
“That culture left no doubt," Newman said. "When you don’t have one guy returning nobody knows what the culture is. They can’t say this is what we do, this is how we did it last year because not one of those guys are back. It is an absolute completely new culture with a bunch of new guys and we’re going to do it differently. It just takes time."
Newman and his staff had to quickly find new players over the summer to prepare for the season.
“We put this team together in early July and we had to sign 12 new guys. So there’s still a lot of growing pains,” said Newman.
The 2018-2019 season for UTPB has been inconsistent compared to the previous two seasons. The Falcons entered the week 10-5 overall and 3-2 in the Lone Star Conference.
“We’ve got such a new group," Newman said. "We’re still trying to figure out how to come together and figure out each other and that’s a big part of growing."
Newman brought his two assistant coaches with him to UTPB from UAFS. That continuity is important when building a program in the Lone Star Conference as they are already familiar with the teams in the LSC.
“We’ve competed with Lone Star (Conference) schools every year that I was in the Heartland. We’re used to that as a staff,” said Newman.
As the Falcons try to grow together as a group in the always tough LSC, Newman’s biggest challenge is trying to institute an entirely new culture in the program in a short amount of time.
“The biggest thing is implementing our culture," Newman said. "Culture takes a lot of time. Winning takes time. Understanding our roles takes time and we’re trying to do it so fast right now."