Six in the City: 'Nova's Wayns set to face HS friend

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Six in the City: 'Nova's Wayns set to face HS friend

Friday, February 11, 2011
Posted: 1:15 p.m.

By Dave Zeitlin
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

Brad Wanamaker knew Maalik Wayns was a special basketball player. That part was obvious.

But when Wayns arrived at Roman Catholic as a freshman in 2005, Wanamaker and his high school teammates didnt roll out the red carpet for the up-and-coming prodigy. Instead, they did the opposite.

We kind of made things tough on him because he was one of the best players in the city as an eighth-grader, said Wanamaker, a former Roman Catholic standout and now a senior guard for the University of Pittsburgh. We had a good veteran group and we kept him level-headed and made him work for everything in practice.

We showed him its not easy coming in as a freshman and playing right away. We let him know he still needs improvement to play at Roman Catholic.

The tough love worked well, and when Wanamaker was a senior and Wayns a sophomore, Roman Catholic captured the Philadelphia Catholic League championship, beating a Neumann Goretti team led by Syracuse standouts Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson.

That was very special, Wanamaker said. That made us grow together as friends.

The two Philly guards have since grown apart at least geographically as Wanamaker left his hometown when his time at Roman Catholic ended because, he said, my mom wanted me to get away and grow, to become a man.

Wanamaker has certainly carved out a nice life for himself for Pitt, where he enjoyed a breakout junior season last year. Hes currently the senior anchor for a Panthers squad that boasts serious Final Four aspirations.

It cant get no better than my four years at Pitt, said the 6-foot-4 swingman, whos averaging 12.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season. Its the best four years of my life probably.

Two years after Wanamaker graduated high school, Wayns decided to stay home and play for Villanova, making him a Big East rival with his former Roman Catholic teammate.

The two Philly kids will be together again Saturday night at 9 p.m. when Pittsburgh (22-2 overall, 10-1 Big East) and No. 9 Villanova (19-5, 7-4) collide in a hyped showdown at the Pavilion. The ESPN College Game Day crew will be on campus for the nationally televised game but luckily playing on a big stage is nothing new for Wayns and Wanamaker. Theyve been doing it since high school.

I compare the Catholic League to the Big East, Wanamaker said. Each team brings its each and every game. You need to bring it every day, not knowing who will come out with the win.

Wayns and the Wildcats certainly got a lesson in the unpredictably of the Big East on Wednesday when they blew a big lead to Rutgers and then lost on a wild four-point play right before the buzzer.

Nova will look for redemption by beating a very powerful Pitt team Saturday. It will be a tough task to be sure, but the Wildcats do have a couple of things working in their favor. For starters, Pitts leading scorer Ashton Gibbs will likely miss his second straight game with a knee injury And secondly, the Panthers have lost six straight time at the Pavilion, the cozy gym that Nova has won 46 consecutive games in.

Wanamaker just hopes the support he hears from his own Philly people will help overcome Villanovas serious homecourt advantage.

With my family and friends there, hopefully theyll cheer louder than the Nova fans, the Pitt senior said.

Either way, Wanamaker is excited to see his old friend. But just like he did when Wayns was a high school freshman, he plans to teach the Villanova guard another lesson.

We might have some laughs and jokes before the game, Wanamaker said. But once the ball goes up, its personal. He dont know me and I dont know him.

Dj vu for Quakers
Heading into this weekends games at Cornell and Columbia, Penn could easily be unbeaten in the Ivy League and coming off wins against the conferences two best teams.

Instead, the Quakers (9-10 overall, 3-2 Ivy League) are two games back of first place and coming off two crushing losses to conference powers Harvard and Princeton.

Even worse, both losses were nearly identical with Penn falling behind big early, staging huge comebacks to force overtime (Saturdays contest vs. Harvard went to double OT), taking their first lead of the game in extra time and then making critical mistakes down the stretch to lose the lead and the game.

Im not one for moral victories, said Penn coach Jerome Allen following Tuesdays defeat to archrival Princeton. We put ourselves in that position, being down 13. We were down 18 Saturday night. Both games we should have won. We had opportunities to have the decision go in our favor, but the smallest details determine wins and losses. Its tough. But all in all, I think we have a solid group, guys who want to be coached, guys who want to play the right way.

The question now: Do the Quakers continue to show the same kind of heart they showed in making those comebacks or will the weight of these two brutally tough defeats be too much to bear?

Here come the Owls
Theyre back in the national rankings. Theyve won a conference-best five straight Atlantic 10 games and two straight on the road. Junior Scootie Randall has emerged as a big-time scorer, averaging 18.7 points per game over the teams last six games.

In other words, Dayton could be in trouble when the streaking No. 24 Temple Owls (18-5 overall, 8-2 Atlantic 10) come to town for a 1 p.m. game Saturday.

In other A-10 action, La Salle (12-13, 4-6) takes on St. Bonaventure in a road game Saturday at 4 p.m., fresh off a last-minute 78-77 win at St. Louis. Fifth-year senior Ruben Guillandeaux gave the Explorers that victory with a putback with 19 seconds left.

St. Joes (6-17, 1-8) hasnt played in a week, but the last time the Hawks did they won their first A-10 game of the season, beating UMass, 67-64, at Hagan Arena. Interestingly enough, St. Joes snapped its skid while playing without the citys leading scorer, point guard Carl Jones. But freshman Langston Galloway came up big with 25 points for the Hawks, who will now try to make it two in a row when they meet Fordham on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Switching over to the Colonial Athletic Association, Drexel (16-8, 8-6) had a three-game winning streak snapped Wednesday when it blew a 16-point lead at home vs. James Madison. Next up at the DAC is a 4 p.m. Saturday game vs. William & Mary.

Six in the City is a weekly feature on the citys six Division I college basketball programs written by CSNPhilly.com contributor Dave Zeitlin. You can email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.

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.

Josh Hart returning to Villanova for senior season

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Josh Hart returning to Villanova for senior season

Villanova’s chances at repeating as national champions just got much better.

Josh Hart is returning for his senior season.

The Wildcats’ leading scorer from last season’s title-winning team tweeted this Tuesday night:

Shortly after, Villanova officially announced the news.

Hart was in the midst of going through the NBA draft process, attending the combine in Chicago and working out for teams. By not hiring an agent, he was able to test the waters without jeopardizing his final year of college eligibility. Hart had until Wednesday to make a decision, which is coming back to the defending champs.

“I enjoyed the process and learned a lot,” Hart said in a statement released by the school. “It was definitely worthwhile. I look forward to graduating next year and coming back to play with my teammates.”

As a junior, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. He put up 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Villanova’s 95-51 Final Four win over Oklahoma, before following it up with 12 points and eight rebounds in the national title game in which the Wildcats thrillingly won at the buzzer, 77-74, on a Kris Jenkins three-pointer.

Hart and Jenkins, the team’s two leading scorers, return along with key pieces Jalen Brunson (9.6 ppg), Phil Booth (7.0 ppg), Mikal Bridges (6.4 ppg) and Darryl Reynolds (4.5 rpg).

“Josh Hart did a great job in this process,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “I’m really proud of the way that he showed himself. I am really happy for him that he is returning to play with his classmates and that he will graduate on time.”