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Fan Miss Haskins on Sidelines

January 26, 1996

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ Basketball without the Bear just won’t be the same at Texas-El Paso.

Followers of the Miners’ orange and blue lost their venerable icon when a mild heart attack and subsequent triple-bypass operation forced UTEP coach Don Haskins from the bench for the rest of the season.

The absence of the man who has coached the Miners for 35 years weighed on the minds of those who came Thursday night to watch UTEP’s game against No. 10 Utah.

``The Bear is the Bear. You’re so used to seeing him, it’s going to be like something is missing,″ said Joanne Edens, a longtime fan. ``You know, it’s always fun to see his reaction when something happens. I’m going to miss that.″

Haskins, one’s of college basketball’s most successful coaches, has been roaming the sidelines at the Special Events Center since 1962. He has a 675-304 record to rank seventh in victories among major-college coaches.

He won an NCAA title in 1966, when the school was called Texas Western, and has recently been nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

His accomplishments have won him a devoted following, and his fans suffered with him after news of his heart attack broke last Saturday.

Some spoke as though a member of their family were hospitalized, instead of a coach whom many of them had probably never met.

``It was very sad, very sad,″ said Salvador Gerardo. ``I talk to him once in a while and he’s always been a good person to talk to.″

Gerardo wondered what the rest of the season will hold for a team bereft of its leader.

Such speculation was rampant throughout the week. But the talk of sports success was secondary to discussions of Haskins himself. For the record, he has already indicated he will return next season.

Louise Compton said she had been sitting behind the coach when he became ill Saturday and left.

``Once he didn’t come back (after halftime of Saturday’s game), you had to wonder,″ she said. ``It’s going to seem funny without him there. Our minds will be on him as much as the game.″

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