This time, Owls better prepared for bowl game

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This time, Owls better prepared for bowl game

Two years ago, everything seemed surreal for the Temple football team.

The Owls accepted the programs first bowl bid in 30 years. They made the short trip to Washington D.C. for the EagleBank Bowl. They went from activity to activity, seeing the monuments of the nations capital, all while preparing for the monumental game.
In the end, perhaps, it was all too much, as the Owls missed their chance to capture the programs first bowl win since 1979, dropping a 30-21 decision to UCLA.

I think two years ago we may have been too anxious, senior offensive lineman John Palumbo said. We might have let everything become bigger than the game.

Now, with many of the same players from the 09 team still around, the Owls believe they are better equipped for their second bowl appearance in the last three years.

Temple plays Wyoming on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. The game, the first of the 2011 bowl season, can be seen live on ESPN.

I think it helps because weve been in a bowl situation before, junior running back Matt Brown said. Experience is experience, and well use what we learned there and take it with us so well have a positive outcome.

Experience will certainly be a factor for the Owls. So, too, will be the tough, hard-nosed approach first-year head coach Steve Addazio has brought to North Philly.

Led by Brown, star running back Bernard Pierce and a staunch offensive line, the Owls boast one of the deadliest rushing attacks in the nation. And on the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Stephen Johnson Temples leading tackler headlines a fierce defense that ranks third in Division I in scoring defense.

Were just gonna do what we do best, Brown said. Whatever the game plan is, I think our mindset is, Were just gonna overwhelm you. Youre not gonna stop us from getting where we want to go.

The first thing the Owls will try to do against Wyoming is establishing their power run game, especially since starting quarterback Chris Coyer is recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in the regular-season finale. Addazio said earlier this week that Coyer is ready to rock and roll but that certainly wont change the Owls approach on offense.

Wyoming knows what Temple will do. Now the question is can they stop it?

Theyve had a lot of success rushing the football and maintaining possession, Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. They havent had to throw it a lot, so theyre going to try to establish the run and throw second. Theyve played three different quarterbacks and well watch them all, but certainly our emphasis is trying to slow down their game.

Fortunately for Temple (8-4), Wyoming has given up an average of 230 rushing yards per game this season, which ranks them ahead of only six other Division I teams.

But even if the Cowboys (8-4) who will be playing in the New Mexico Bowl for the second time in the last three years cant stall Temples high-octane rushing attack, theyll be able to employ an efficient offense of their own, led by quarterback Brett Smith, the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year. Thanks in large part to Smith, who threw for 2,495 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first year, Wyoming finished third in the Mountain West, behind national powers TCU and Boise State.

He does not play like a freshman, Addazio said. It will be a real challenge to contain him, and were well aware of that. We have to play well on defense for sure.

The Owls, which finished in second place in the MAC East behind Ohio, have played tremendous defense all season and roll into Saturdays game winners of three straight. But no game is bigger than this one.

And after losing their 2009 bowl game and getting snubbed for a 2010 bid, the Owls are hungry to win their first bowl game in 32 years, if for no other reason than to prove to outsiders that a consistently dominant football program exists in North Philadelphia.

Everyones hyped, Brown said. Were trying to get over the hump so we can put Temple on a higher pedestal.

For Addazio, whos done a terrific job directing the team in the wake of former coach Al Goldens departure, its already been emotional thinking about the seniors who will wear the pads for the final time. And for the past two weeks, he keeps saying that this will be Temples championship game and that he expects his team to play with endless emotion, energy and passion.

But while winning the New Mexico Bowl will certainly mark one of the great moments in the schools athletic history, Addazio also cautioned that a loss will do little to slow down the growth of the program.

People are tremendously excited for Temple. Its undeniable whats happening here, Addazio said. One game doesnt define whether or not weve had a successful year. Its very important to us but it doesnt define us.

We play a great level of football here at Temple. And were here to stay.

E-mail Dave Zeitlin at djzeitlin@gmail.com

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.