Incoming talent could help Villanova bounce back

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Incoming talent could help Villanova bounce back

Monday, March 21, 2011
Posted: 1:15 p.m.By Reuben FrankCSNPhilly.com
A dramatically different Villanova team will take the court in November, a Wildcat team with at least three new starters and most likely a very different approach to playing basketball.

Villanova graduates three of its four top scorers from this years 21-12 team, but if a couple highly regarded recruits can contribute, a couple players can make significant strides from sophomore to junior year and one extremely highly touted player who had to sit out this past season can live up to expectations, next years Nova team could be very good.

And could help Nova fans forget this years second-half collapse.

One thing we know is that Maalik Wayns will be a big part of everything the Wildcats do. Wayns, a 6-2 guard out of Phillys Roman Catholic who can shoot, handle and play defense, was Villanovas leading scorer for much of the second half of the season and finished third on the team with 13.8 points per game, a figure that rose close to 16 points since mid-January.

We also know that Mouphtaou Yarou will again start in the pivot for the Wildcats. Yarou, 6-10, 250, is still raw and limited at the offensive end, but he did finish the year with 8.4 points and 7.1 rebounds averaging just 24 minutes per game.

Wayns started 28 games this year and Yarou 32, and they will be the only experienced starters coach Jay Wright will bring back.

Both have plenty to work on. Wayns must improve his decision making and shot selection, but hes an explosive offensive scorer and a willing defender. Yarou must become more aggressive in the paint and assert his size and bulk, but hes still new to the game and should improve.

Beyond Wayns and Yarou, things get interesting for a team losing double-digit scorers Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena to graduation.

The biggest piece Wright adds this offseason is 6-6, 220-pound swingman JayVaughan Pinkston, a former McDonalds All-America pick who was forced to sit out this season because of an off-the-court issue.

Pinkston is powerful enough to play around the basket and attack the rim but versatile enough to play along the perimeter. Pinkston, from Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn, should bring Nova some things it sorely lacked this year - toughness, aggressiveness and muscle. Hes a different breed from Novas forwards this past season - big, strong and physically commanding.

Pinkston almost certainly will start right from Day 1 either at the three or the four as a red-shirt freshman, so that leaves two open spots in the starting lineup.

Guys like 6-5 guard James Taj Bell, 6-8 forward Isaiah Armwood, 6-6 guard Dominic Cheek and 6-11 forward Maurice Sutton all logged extensive minutes but none are locks to start in 2012.

Wrights recruiting class, ranked among the top 25 by ESPN, includes some intriguing names, most notably Tyrone Johnson, who started out at Plainfield and finished at Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md. - alma mater of Yarou and Kevin Durant. Johnson was ranked by ESPN as the No. 12 point guard in this years recruiting class.

If Johnson is able to come in and run the offense, Wright will have Johnson and Wayns together for two years in the backcourt and then build from there. Wright has said he expects Armwood - already a sound defensive player and rebounder - to make a huge huge strides this offseason, especially on the offensive end.

Bell was limited much of the year following offseason surgery on both feet, but his game-saving 21-point outburst off the bench at Seton Hall was certainly encouraging. When healthy, hes a terrific scorer and at 6-5 can play the two or the three and help out on the boards. As much as Wright loves to play three guards, a starting lineup with Johnson at the point, Wayns at shooting guard and Bell at small forward, with Pinkston at power forward and Yarou in the middle is possible, although its small.

Thats why Armwood is such an important guy. At 6-8, hes one of the few experienced pivot players Wright will have next year, and Wright is very high on him.

Our guess is that the versatile and heady Bell becomes the first guy off the bench, and Wright starts Wayns and Johnson at guard and Pinkston and Armwood at forward with Yarou in the middle.

Novas other incoming 2011 recruits are 6-5 shooting guard Darrun Hilliard of Liberty in Bethlehem, 6-9 forward Markus Kennedy of Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., and 6-5 shooting guard Achraf Yacoubou of Long Island Lutheran in Rockville, N.Y.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Stokes, Fisher leave a complex legacy at Villanova Solid core returns for hungry Owls next season

Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

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Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University's board of regents said Thursday that it will fire football coach Art Briles and re-assign university President Kenneth Starr amid questions over the school's handling of sexual assault complaints against players.

The nation's largest Baptist university said in a statement Thursday that it had suspended Briles "with intent to terminate." Starr will leave the position of president on May 31, but the school says he will serve as chancellor.

The university also placed athletic director Ian McCaw on probation.

Baylor asked a law firm last year to conduct a review of its handling of sexual assault cases following allegations that the football program mishandled several cases of players attacking women.

The university's statement said the review revealed "a fundamental failure."

Baylor has faced increasing criticism in recent months for its handling of reports of rape and other violent incidents involving football players and students. One victim has sued the university, saying it was deliberately indifferent to her allegations against a former player who was eventually convicted of sexually assaulting her.

Starr ordered an investigation last year but has been mostly silent amid mounting criticism over the school's handling of the complaints, which erupted under his leadership. He took over as the university's president in 2010, about a decade after the former prosecutor investigated former President Clinton's sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewisnky.

The football team, whose players were at the center of the upheaval, enjoyed unprecedented success under Briles' tenure, including two Big 12 championships in the last three years. That success brought a financial windfall, and in 2014, Baylor opened a new, $250-million on-campus football stadium. But Briles' program has also been criticized for recruiting or accepting transfer players without regard to the harm they might cause fellow students.

Starr rode the waves of the program's success, and often ran on the football field with Baylor students in pregame ceremonies. But as investigations began into the school's handling of sexual assault allegations against players, Starr provided only brief comments, even as criticism of the school mounted.

In a February statement issued by university, Starr said "our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence." And at a prayer breakfast last month, Starr told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I am in favor of transparency. Stand up, take your medicine if you made a mistake."

Baylor's Board of Regents was recently briefed by a law firm hired to investigate how the school responded to assault incidents, and the school on Thursday released a summary of its findings. Starr initiated the review in 2015, after former football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a female soccer player.

Ukwuachu, who was convicted in 2015, transferred to Baylor after he was dismissed from Boise State. Ukwuachu's former girlfriend testified during his rape trial in Texas that he had struck and choked her when he attended Boise State.

Ukwuachu's former coach, Chris Peterson, now the coach at Washington, said he "thoroughly apprised" Briles about the circumstances of Ukuwachu's dismissal. Briles disputed that account, saying he talked with Peterson and there was no mention of the incident.

The school is also facing a federal lawsuit from a former student claiming the school was "deliberately indifferent" to rape allegations levied at a former football player Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of sexually assaulting the woman.

The uproar following Ukwuachu's conviction caused Baylor to initiate the review by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, and to announce a $5 million effort to improve efforts on how it responds to sexual assault, including adding another investigator and more staff.

But the Ukwuachu case was just the start of months of revelations of football players being involved in violent incidents with little or no repercussions. At least seven other woman have publicly come forward to say the school ignored their sexual assault allegations.

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Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

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Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

Josh Hart said the decision wasn’t easy.

But he’s happy with it.

After withdrawing his name from the NBA draft to return to school (see story), Hart is excited to focus on Villanova, graduation and then the NBA dream.

“I love the school, I love the teachers, the student body, the support, my teammates that we have coming back,” the 6-foot-5 guard said Wednesday on Comcast SportsNet’s Philly Sports Talk. “So it was a tough one and I just thought at the end of the day, I think going back for my senior year would be in the best interest of my parents and myself.”

As a junior, Hart helped Villanova win its second national championship in program history by leading the Wildcats in scoring with 15.5 points per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field.

Hart received plenty of feedback from NBA teams. He said shooting and ball handling are what he hopes to improve.

As far as his draft stock …

“There were teams interested maybe in the first [round], and then there were teams that said they would take me in the second,” Hart said. “But there’s a whole month before the draft, a lot of teams didn’t know exactly what they were doing with their picks — whether they were trying to trade up for a pick, trying to trade down, trying to trade a pick for a player. Several teams said that they would take me.”

For more from Hart on the draft and Villanova, watch the video above.

Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

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Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

Delaware has its new head basketball coach in Martin Ingelsby.

Ingelsby, a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, comes from Notre Dame, where he played from 1997-2001 and coached for 13 seasons, seven as an assistant.

Ingelsby played his high school ball at Archbishop Carroll and is the son of Tom Ingelsby, who played for Villanova from 1970-73.

Delaware is coming off a 7-23 season and 2-16 mark in CAA play, which led to the firing of head coach Monte Ross.

The Blue Hens, who announced the hire Tuesday, will formally introduce Ingelsby in a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium.