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The starless Bears had to beat two future Hall of Famers on their way to the championship. In the semifinals they defeated Robertson and Cincinnati 64-58. Then in the final, Cal beat West Virginia, which was led by West.
Showing it was no fluke, the Bears beat both teams again the following season with West and Robertson still in college. Cal topped West Virginia 65-45 in a holiday tournament and knocked off Cincinnati 77-69 in the Final Four.
Cal lost the 1960 championship game 75-55 to Ohio State, which was led by Lucas, John Havlicek and Knight.
Emotionally high strung, Newell lived on coffee, cigarettes and little else during the season. He was told by doctors to leave full-time coaching, which he did in 1960 at age 44. His overall record was 234-123, and he beat UCLA's John Wooden the last eight times they met.
Newell ended his coaching career in the Olympics, when the U.S. team won every game by at least 24 points.
Newell served as athletic director at Cal from 1960-68, a turbulent era on the Berkeley campus. He worked for several NBA teams in a variety of capacities. He was general manager of the Rockets when they were in San Diego and orchestrated the trade that brought Abdul-Jabbar to Los Angeles when he ran the Lakers. He later was a consultant to the Warriors and a scout for the Cavaliers.
"This is obviously a very sad day for the game of basketball, whether you are associated with the NBA, college or high school ranks," said Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson, who knew Newell for more than 50 years.
"Pete was a great coach and a great man who had the ability to relate to players and people on every level. A countless number of coaches and players benefited from Pete's tutelage over the years -- including those who attended his specialized camps each summer -- and will be indebted to him for the expertise and wisdom that he provided."
Newell is survived by sons Pete Jr., Roger, Tom and Greg, and four grandchildren.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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