No. 19 Villanova topped by No. 4 Pittsburgh

404116.jpg

No. 19 Villanova topped by No. 4 Pittsburgh

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 6:27 p.m. Updated: 10:22 p.m.

By Reuben Frank
CSNPhilly.com

BOX SCORE Big East tournament bracket

PITTSBURGH -- Villanova proved it can play with anybody in the country. Right now, they just cant beat them.

The undermanned Wildcats, with senior guard Corey Stokes out with a hamstring injury and senior guard Corey Fisher hobbled by knee tendinitis, battled valiantly against No. 4 Pitt, leading much of the game before losing 60-50 at Petersen Events Center, where Pitt has lost just four times since the start of the 2007-08 season and is 149-12 all-time.

Villanova goes into the Big East tournament on a four-game losing streak, with the four losses coming against teams ranked No. 4, No. 8, No. 12 and No. 15 nationally.

Stay positive, Fisher said. Cant get down on yourself. Things will turn. Just like our Final 4 team (in 2009). We lost five games in a row. Not comparing us to that team, but we had doubters, too. If we go out and make a run, all the doubters will become fans. Just got to continue to play.

Staying positive was a big theme for the Wildcats Saturday. Even though they lost for the ninth time in their last 14 games, even though their two best players are banged up, even though they wont get a first-round bye in the Big East tournament, just going toe-to-toe with this mighty Pittsburgh team for 30 minutes on its home court was big.

We were right there, Fisher said. Weve still got games ahead of us. We come out and make a run at the Big East tournament this week, everythings going to change. Everybodys going to say, Oh, youre back. We know how it goes. We know how hard we work. Its hard, these last four games right here, but thats in the past.

After a 16-1 start and a No. 7 national ranking, Villanova finished the regular season 21-10 and 9-9 in the Big East. They were 2-6 in their last eight conference games.

Pitt (27-4, 15-3) clinched its fourth Big East regular-season title and first since 2004 and earned the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament.

Thanks to Seton Halls win over Marquette later Saturday, Villanova will be the No. 10 seed in New York and will play No. 15 South Florida at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Villanova beat South Florida by 12 on Jan. 6.

The winner will face No. 7 seed Cincinnati at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Villanova beat Cincinnati by 11 on Jan. 9.

In the 31 seasons since the start of the Big East tournament in 1981, this is only the fourth time Villanova has been seeded outside the top eight. They were No. 10 in 1993, No. 10 in 2004 and No. 11 in 2007.

Villanova coach Jay Wright said that as rough as the last month and a half has been -- the Wildcats have won only four games since Jan. 23 -- his team has stayed confident and is eager to get to New York for the conference tournament.

Thats the good thing, thats what were good at, he said. Were not really good at making free throws right now or rebounding, but we are good at that. These guys have kept a good attitude. Theres been no problems. Every day they come to practice, they prepare well, they know the scouting report, they do all that stuff.

Im not worried about their psyche anymore. Their psyches are good. We just have to make shots. We have to rebound a little bit better. We have to defend a little bit better. We have to execute a little bit better offensively.

Villanova kept themselves in the game Saturday by controlling tempo, working the shot clock down to single digits, slowing down the explosive Panthers and keeping them from scoring easy baskets in transition.

The Wildcats led 30-29 with 12 minutes to go before Pitt finally took command with a 14-2 run over the next five minutes. Pitt scored more points in the final 12 minutes (31) than in the first 28 minutes (29).

They tried to basically break us down and make us force shots on offense, Pitt forward Gilbert Brown said. We had to value every possession with the minimal possessions we had. In the second half, I think we started to do a better job dealing with that.

Sophomore guard Maalik Wayns single-handedly kept 'Nova in the game late, scoring 15 of Villanovas last18 points.

Wayns made five three-pointers in the final 5 12 minutes and finished with a career-high 27 points on 6-for-12 from three-point range. In his previous seven games, he made just three of 20 from long range.

Nobody else scored more than seven.

I had to be more aggressive on offense, Wayns said. Coach told me Stokes wasnt playing, I had to step it up on offense. I havent been making shots, but I put the time in every day, put in the extra time. Eventually, theyre going to start falling.

Thanks to Wayns, this was still a seven-point game in the final minute before the Panthers made a ton of foul shots.

Hes got guts, Wright said. We were looking bad there offensively for a stretch thats when they took over, and he didnt give up, and he wasnt afraid to look bad, and he kept battling, and I love him. I love the kid.

But in the end, once again, Nova just didnt have enough firepower to stay with a Big East powerhouse.

Theyre just better right now, Wright said.

Fisher, who is battling tendinitis, continued to struggle with his shot. He made just three of 14 baskets and was 1-for-8 from three-point range, leaving him 15-for-57 (26 percent) and 4-for-32 (13 percent) in Novas last four games.

Fighting through it, he said. Ill be all right.

Junior guard Ashton Gibbs led Pitt with 18 points. Nova actually made more baskets than Pitt (19 to 17), but the Panthers were 23-for-26 from the foul line (89 percent) to 'Novas 5-for-10.

Everybodys got their heads up, Wayns said. We just played a great team whos capable of winning a national championship at their house, and we played them head-to-head.

Just shows you what type of team we can be. Were a great team, were just not making shots. Were definitely confident. Weve got great players who can turn it on at any time.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Big East Wrap: Cincy crushes No. 17 Georgetown

Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

us-art-briles.png
USA Today Images

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.

©2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

052516-josh-hart_720x405_692914755873.jpg

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

usa-martin-ingelsby.jpg
USA Today Images

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.