Nashville, Tn – When Belmont University hired Cameron Newbauer as the head coach of their women’s basketball program, he became only the fourth head coach in the history of the program.
Newbauer had been an assistant coach at the University of Louisville where he helped the Cardinals to a 29-9 record, and earning a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville went on to win five consecutive games, including an appearance in the National Championship game.
He had previously spent five seasons as an assistant at the University of Georgia, under Hall of Fame head coach Andy Landers.
Cameron Newbauer coaching in his first year at Belmont (photo courtesy Belmont Sports Information)
When Belmont Athletic Director Mike Strickland announced that they had hired their next women’s basketball coach, he put it this way;
“We could not be more pleased that Cameron has accepted our offer to lead our women’s basketball program. Throughout this process, Cameron has exceeded our expectations in every regard. His impressive background in both the women’s and men’s game speaks for itself. Yet Cameron’s character, sincerity and enthusiasm are unmistakable and ideally suited for Belmont University.”
Now, after earning the #2 seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in just his first year as the head coach, it looks like success is what you should expect from “Coach Cam.”
And success on the basketball court is something Belmont is accustomed to.
Nashville Sports Network caught up with Newbauer as he was preparing for the OVC Tournament and talked about his first season as the Belmont head coach.
What were your thoughts coming to Nashville and taking over this Belmont program?
“I really expected to come in and learn as much as I could. I got the job on May 20th, and I didn’t really know anything about our team, our players or the league, so I wanted to learn as much as I could my first year. I’m very excited about what we’ve accomplished this year. Surviving a very tough non-conference schedule and getting prepared for the OVC was challenging. I’m very proud of these ladies. They’ve really stepped up their game under some very challenging circumstances.”
Coach Cameron Newbauer at the 2014 OVC Tournament (Mateen Sidiq Nashville Sports Network)
You’ve coached at the major college level, having been at Georgia and Louisville, so what did you learn about being a head coach in the Ohio Valley Conference?
“I’ve learned how competitive it is. Every conference game has a tournament atmosphere. When you look at a program like SIUE, the number #8 seed in our tournament, and they’ve beaten both the #1 and #2 seed during the conference schedule, it’s tough. Winning on the road is so crucial in this league. We won and lost some very close games this season, but it prepares you for the conference tournament, and that’s where we want to be.”
How did you gain the confidence of this team and get them to “buy in” to your game plan?
“I think our staff did a really good job with being consistent with who we were as people and coaches. We’re demanding, but never too demanding. We’re intense, but never too intense. Practice was always the same and we kept the team “loose.” We would show them through film sessions that they were getting better.”
“We played teams like Georgia, Missouri and UTEP very close, and we showed them that they could compete with these teams and they started to realize that they were getting better. We had little things happening that we made a big deal and celebrated. I think we did a good job at sticking to our game plan and just being consistent.”
After a rough start, this team then started to win games and get on a roll. When did things begin to “click” with you and your players?
“I don’t remember any particular game, but after we got beat by Eastern Kentucky at home, they could have just packed it in, but they didn’t. Things just started to come together. We won six of our last eight games, so that was pretty strong. Players like Lauren Thompson, Frankie Joubran, Taylor Mills and others started playing bigger roles on the court and in the locker room. We got them comfortable with their roles on the team, and they just ran with it.”
How did you determine what you wanted these players to do?
“It was a challenge. I didn’t know these kids. I didn’t see them play in high school. I didn’t recruit them, so it was difficult in the beginning. We really couldn’t start to define their roles until late September, so it was tough. Our non-conference schedule was basically where we started refining who would do what for this team and it made it hard to win games but it really got us prepared for the Ohio Valley Conference schedule. We worked it out, and to come in as the #2 seed is a real accomplishment for all of us.”
Coach Newbauer gives his team instructions at the 2014 OVC Tournament (Mateen Sidiq Nashville Sports Network)
What was the worst game of the year for you and your team?
“Well, my very first game as a head coach we lost by 22 points. That was pretty bad. I had a lot of family and friends here for that one. It was tough. We were also leading Georgia State by 22 points and lost that game, and that was a tough one as well.”
Your best game of the season?
“Well, anytime you win on the road it’s special, and the way our kids fought back against Eastern Kentucky on the road was a good win. Our kids just fought back and laid it all on the line in that one.”
You lost to UT Martin in the Championship game and missed the opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament. Do you feel it’s been a good year for you and your team?
“Definitely. Without a doubt. We finish second in the conference, built a lot of relationships with players, staff and the administration. We got better as the year went on, so I think we started building a solid foundation for success, and I hope we’re not done. It’s been a great start to our program.”
Newbauer fits the Belmont profile perfectly. He cares about his ream and he works hard. He expects those around him to do the same.
Coach Cam arrived in Nashville not knowing his players and they didn’t know him. And together they worked their way into the OVC Championship game with a chance at the NCAA Tournament.
Belmont fans should be excited about the future of their women’s basketball program, and the rest of the league needs to take notice, if they haven’t already.
The college basketball world is all too familiar with the Belmont Men’s Basketball program under head coach Rick Byrd.
Don’t be surprised if one day, Cameron Newbauer is part of that conversation.
Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Kenisha Rhone and Greg Sage of the Belmont Sports Information Department for their assistance in putting this story together.
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About Hank Bonecutter
Hank is a forty year broadcast veteran, talk show host, writer, producer, and stand-up comedian. Hank is the President of Bonehead Promotions and Clarksville Sports Network.com, and is a contributing author/journalist for Clarksville Online. Hank is an advertising consultant, and social media adviser/manager for exclusive customers.
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SectionsAnnouncements, Associations, Basketball (Women), Belmont University, Colleges, Featured Story, My Two Cents, NCAA, Ohio Valley Conference, Sports
TopicsAndy Landers, Athletic Director, Basketball, Belmont Basketball, Belmont Bruins, Belmont Men's Basketball, Belmont Sports, Belmont Sports Information, Belmont University, Bruins, Cameron Newbauer, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, Facebook, Frankie Joubran, Georgia, Georgia State, Greg Sage, Hall of Fame, Kenisha Rhone, Lauren Thompson, Louisville, Mike Strickland, Missouri, Nashville, Nashville Sports Network, nashville tennessee, national championship, NCAA Tournament, Ohio Valley Conference, OVC, OVC Tournament, Rick Byrd, SIUE, Taylor Mills, Tennessee, Twitter, University of Georgia, University of Louisville, UT-Martin, UTEP