New men’s basketball coach looks to make offense more dynamic

Andy Newman, the new head coach for CSUN men’s basketball, answers questions during a meet-and-greet event at the Premier America Credit Union Arena on April 24, 2023, in Northridge, Calif.

Edward Segal, Sports Editor

CSUN men’s basketball had one of the worst offenses in the Big West Conference in the 2022-23 season. They were third to last in the conference in points, averaging only 63.4 per game, 13 points lower than the team ranked first in the category.

The Matadors’ two top scorers, Atin Wright and Dionte Bostick, have hit the transfer portal, and head coach Trent Johnson has retired, putting CSUN men’s basketball deeper into a rebuild that started after the pandemic. The coach hired to replace Johnson, however, may be the answer to some of the team’s problems.

“We said we needed a winner, someone who has demonstrated success in big moments,” athletic director Shawn Chin-Farrell said at the meet-and-greet for the new coach on April 24. “So, not just basketball knowledge, but as a teacher, someone who can demonstrate what it takes to learn how to develop young men into men.”

More than 100 individuals expressed interest in coaching the team, according to Chin-Farrell, but the athletic department decided to go with someone who has experience in the Big West, knows how to win and has a fast-paced style of play.

Andy Newman has an impressive Division II resume, having made three NCAA tournaments at Cal State San Bernardino and earning two California Collegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year awards while there.

He also has Division I experience, as he coached Cal State Fullerton for 10 years and led them to the highest-scoring offense in the Big West Conference.

This fast-paced offense is something he looks to bring to CSUN, and the Matadors could really use it. CSUN was third to last in the Big West in field goals attempted per game and last in field goals made in the 2022-23 season. The Matadors are also the only Big West team that averaged fewer than 10 assists per game.

“What you’re gonna see for us is you’re gonna see a very exciting brand of basketball,” Newman said at the meet-and-greet. “We’re gonna play very up-tempo, and we’re gonna score a ton of points.”

CSUN had the lowest fan attendance of any team in the conference with only 398 per game, which pales in comparison to Hawaii, who averages over 5,000 fans at every game. Fast-paced offense is known to turn heads.

Wright, an explosive guard who led the Matadors in scoring this past season, but just hit the transfer portal, would have been a nice fit in Newman’s system.

Now is a good chance for Newman to start building from the ground up and recruiting young guys who fit his system to fill some of the vacancies on the roster. Decent playmakers and two-way guards can go a long way in making his system work with what the Matadors have going, and an athletic big can help anchor the team on the defensive end.

Newman wants to make CSUN basketball fun to watch and believes a more dynamic offense can lead the Matadors in the right direction. This can help him turn CSUN’s basketball program into one that people don’t just use to pass through, but rather want to keep playing for until they graduate.

“Obviously, our principle here, we’re gonna recruit very talented basketball players who have a very high character and who are committed to getting a degree for a season,” Newman said.

One of Newman’s top priorities is building the core of the team by recruiting people from the Valley. He plans to do this by showing them that CSUN’s brand of basketball will be a fun one and a successful one.

“I really do believe that once student-athletes, or potential student-athletes, in the Valley see what we’re doing, see how much we care about them … they’re not going to want to leave and go outside. They’re going to see they’ve got a great option right here,” Newman said. “They can play in front of friends and family, and why go somewhere else? So that’s really gonna be our philosophy.”

The Matadors have had zero winning seasons since 2009. On the cusp of their 15th straight year with a record below .500, CSUN men’s basketball is searching for a person to lift them out of their rebuild. Newman might be the one.