Stokes, Fisher leave a complex legacy at Villanova

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Stokes, Fisher leave a complex legacy at Villanova

Sunday, March 20, 2011Posted: 12:43 p.m.
By Reuben FrankCSNPhilly.com

They played in a Final Four, they played in two Sweet 16s, they reached the NCAA tournament all four years they wore Villanova jerseys, and they averaged nearly 25 wins per year.

Terrific accomplishments for this Villanova senior class. One of the more successful groups in Wildcat history.

Determining the legacy of these Villanova seniors specifically guards Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher is more complicated than just listing their achievements.

Because, fair or unfair, they will be remembered as the seniors who lost their last six games, who blew three double-digit leads to unranked teams down the stretch, who lost 11 of their last 16 games overall, who in less than two months somehow went from a dangerous, nationally Top-10 ranked team to a mystifying group that couldnt beat anybody.

Statistically, Fisher and Stokes finished their careers Friday afternoon as two of the finest players in Widcat history.

That cant be argued.

Fisher played in 137 games, scoring 1,672 points and dishing 487 assists. He finished 13th in school history in scoring and sixth in assists. Stokes played in 133 games, scoring 1,315 points and shooting 39 percent from three-point range fourth-best in Nova history.

Great numbers.

What neither was able to do was what their former teammate Scottie Reynolds did twice: Lead this team deep into the NCAA tournament.

When Reynolds left the Main Line last season after establishing himself as one of the all-time Villanova greats, Fisher and Stokes were expected to carry on the Wildcat tradition of smart, athletic guards who dont just put up great numbers but also carry their teams to greatness.

So even though the numbers are there, and Fisher and Stokes are unquestionably two of the most talented players to pass through Villanova during the programs proud 91-year history, a large chunk of their legacy will have to take into consideration the stunning events of the past two months.

Villanova is the first team in NCAA tournament history to lose its last six games.

And when basketball fans look back at the 2010-11 team, its going to be impossible to ignore that.

Its going to be impossible to ignore that a 13-point lead with 4:07 at Rutgers turned into a loss. That a 16-point second-half lead against a nine-win South Florida team turned into a loss. That a 10-point lead over George Mason on Friday and a six-point lead with 1:57 left turned into yet another devastating loss.

Fair? Unfair? Doesnt matter. It just is.

Now, this isnt to blame Fisher and Stokes for all thats happened over the past two months. This collapse is everybodys fault. Every coach and player in the program shares the blame.

But when we talk about the great Villanova guards Nova went to the Elite Eight when Randy Foye and Allan Ray were seniors. Doug Wests senior year, Elite Eight. Reynolds carried them to the Final Four two years ago. Go back to Chris Fords senior year and an Elite Eight in 1972. This has always been a guard-oriented program, and those guards will always be judged by how far they go when theyre asked to lead the program.

When Villanova coach Jay Wright is asked about the legacy Fisher and Stokes leave at Villanova he understandably looks beyond wins and losses, deeper than Final Fours and Big East titles.

He looks at the way his two seniors have handled themselves, the way theyve grown, the way theyve dealt with adversity.

And on the inside of the Villanova program, their legacy will be much different than it inevitably will be on the outside.

We want to be the best we can at the end of the year given the circumstances, injuries, tough breaks, tough calls that's what a season is, how you endure that, Wright said. So going into the season, if you would have asked me if we would have been better than 21-11, I would have said yes, I would have thought we would have been.

Having gone through what we have, the best I can do is evaluate how our guys have handled it. I think basketball-wise we could have done some better things. We could have been a better defensive team. I think we could have executed better offensively. But given everything we've been through, our schedule in the Big East, everything, I am extremely proud of these three seniors.

The fact that everybody has stuck together ... that's what Im excited about them. And thats going to be their legacy in my mind.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com
Related: Temple runs out of gas in double-OT loss to SDSU

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.