"I didn't want my players getting on the officials, ever, no matter what the situation. If sports are to have educational benefits, you have to learn to handle the bad calls of the world and get on with your business. I didn't want the officials to be a crutch, a scapegoat or a reason for not playing well. If you're preparing a youngster for a life after sports, you want him to think in positive terms and not be predisposed to thinking somebody's gonna cheat him out of something. If I saw a player even close to mouthing off at an official, I'd take him out of the game.
"I'd have some concerns if I saw a certain ref was working the game, but I'd never let my players know," Newell said. 'That's just a very negative kind of input, where the whole team's thinking 'Oh, no, old so-and-so is working the game, we're really up against it I just can't stand this business of, 'Is he for us or against us?' And if I start yelling, pretty soon it gives my players license to yell."
Coach Newell also never let his or a player's intensity turn into criticism. Coach Newell put it this way:
"I never berated a player coming off the court or on the bench. Never in my life. I may have raised heck on the practice court, or watching films the next day, and sometimes it was my fault. But I wasn't involved in blaming people. It was why, why, why. Because when you know the 'why' of something, you can do something about it"
At half time of a game, his best rebounder complained he wasn't getting enough help from his teammates. Coach Newell addressed the issue with the team this way:
"I don't want any individual to think he's running this team! When you have bad nights, I don't want to hear anybody - and I mean anybody - comment on the performance of anybody else. I'm the coach. I know who's doing` what for who. If you're having a bad night, you go out and get twice as tough!" The message was clear: You can't point a finger at someone else, or everything falls apart. Look to yourself.
Not coincidentally, one of three strict practice rules fellow legend John Wooden had was: "Never criticize a teammate."
Coach Newell did not allow his intensity or that of his players to be become blame or criticism of others. He did not lower his intensity. He directed his intensity at his performance and that of his team. The outcome was laser focus and legendary results.