Paul Newman (above) filled a crucial role to help Roman reverse the script from January's loss to Neumann-Goretti. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
In Roman Catholic’s 17-point loss to Neumann-Goretti back in January, the Cahillites were missing one key piece: senior forward Paul Newman, who was out with a concussion.
With the 6-foot-7 big man sidelined, the Saints took advantage in all facets, especially on the glass and around the rim.
Luckily for Roman, Newman was back for the rematch.
“I really wanted to get back on the court for this one bad because everybody doubted me,” Newman said. “Everybody said that I wasn’t going to be a big factor, so I just wanted to prove people wrong.”
Though his seven-point, six-rebound effort wasn’t the complete difference-maker in Roman’s 72-65 win in the Catholic League championship game on Monday night, there’s no denying that Newman’s presence inside went a long way for the repeat champions.
He proved in the championship game’s early minutes that he would factor into the decision, scoring his first bucket during a game-opening 11-0 run for Roman and coming up with a put-back to make it 17-8 later in the first quarter.
“He’s the one guy who if we can get him a bucket or something positive, that settles everyone else down because you need production from other guys, and that’s what really, really helped,” Roman coach Chris McNesby said. “Him getting a few things early helped settle everyone else down.”
Newman was tasked with guarding Neumann-Goretti junior Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, who certainly had a strong game with 14 points and 15 rebounds. But no other Neumann player pulled in more than five, while Newman was one of four players with six rebounds or more.
“Lamar (Stevens) had 22 and 10 (rebounds), but I think a lot of that was because of Paul,” McNesby said. “They have to account for him, he’s a big body and he’s another body going after rebounds and competing on the glass, it kind of gets balls bounced around a little bit more and Lamar is sometimes the beneficiary of that.”
It was tough to argue that Roman did anything but dominate the rebound battle the second time around.
“I think we did great, we got second-chance points, we limited their second-chance points and we just kept rebounding,” Newman said. “(McNesby) just kept telling us we’ve got to power down low, we’re bigger than them, so we just took advantage of that.”
Though he had several Division I schools looking at him last summer, picking up an offer from Towson before his senior year, Newman’s recruitment currently consists of an offer from Brown and not much else.
A few more performances like this in the state playoffs and that's likely to change.
“He’s going to be a late-comer, I think he’s a late bloomer and I think if anybody else doesn’t recruit him, they’re stupid,” McNesby said. “Because--at the right level--I think he’s good enough.”
It’s not always easy being in that position, especially with three high-major classmates in Penn State recruits Stevens, Nazeer Bostick and Tony Carr.
But despite the ups and downs of his the last few months, Newman’s attitude and work ethic haven’t wavered.
“He has just been the glue for us all year,” Carr said. “He is the big center, he never complains about getting the ball. He is early to practice every day, he is just a hard worker and it is great having a senior leader like him.”