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Ingelsby Escapes Villanova Shadows

January 7, 1999

by Eric Wachter

He grew up 10 minutes from Villanova in Berwyn, Pa., and went to high school 2 minutes away at Archbishop Carroll.

His father and uncle played on the Wildcats’ 1971 NCAA championship runner-up team.

His brother is a freshman at Villanova and his cousin is a manager for the Wildcat men’s basketball team.

His family had season tickets to Villanova basketball games growing up. He’ll be the starting point guard when Villanova takes on Notre Dame at the Joyce Center tonight, wearing the number 24 on his uniform, the same number his father wore at Villanova, but he won’t be wearing a Villanova uniform.

Meet Martin Ingelsby, Notre Dame’s sophomore point guard.

“I’ve been around Villanova a lot,” said Ingelsby, who hopes to lead Notre Dame to a win over Villanova tonight, the only team the Irish have not beaten since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995.

It was Ingelsby’s father, Tom, who encouraged Martin to look into Notre Dame ever since the day the first letter arrived from Notre Dame which “stuck out more than the others,” according to Ingelsby.

“He wanted me to make a name for myself somewhere else so I wouldn’t always be living up to what he did,” Ingelsby said. “He didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh, Martin’s not as good as his dad.’ He loved Notre Dame.”

Tom Ingelsby, who starred at Villanova from 1970-73, averaging 18.6 points in his career and later went on to play in the NBA, also was influential in Martin’s choice of high schools as well as his college choice.

“The only reason I went to Archbishop Carroll was because my dad got the coaching job there,” said Ingelsby. “I didn’t even want to go to there. I was the only one that didn’t want him to take the coaching job because then I had to go there. I wanted to be with all my friends at Conestoga High School but it turned out to be the best.”

The younger Ingelsby helped his father and Carroll be the best by winning the prestigious Philadelphia Catholic League championship as a sophomore in 1995, before finishing second in 1996 and 1997. He was a three-time all-Catholic League pick and the Catholic League South MVP as a senior. Ingelsby received the Markwark Award, given to the best city league basketball player of the year, the same award his father won at Cardinal O’Hara High School in 1969.

Also on the 1995 Carroll championship team was Villanova senior Rafal Bigus, another of Ingelsby’s ties to Villanova. The two reunited on the court back in the summer of 1997 when Ingelsby returned home between the spring semester and at summer session at Notre Dame. He spent the rest of the summer unwinding in Avalon, N.J., at the famed Jersey Shore for some time away from school and basketball.

“I know a lot of the guys on their team,” says Ingelsby. “I played with a lot of those guys this summer. I went up to Villanova and played pick-up games with almost their whole team. It was pretty fun going up there and playing with them.”

While Ingelsby got to know the Villanova team this past summer, his cousin Mike Ingelsby serves as a student manager for the team. “My cousin is a senior at Villanova and one of the head managers for the team,” says Ingelsby. “He’s done it since his freshman year. He was out here last year when we played them. He came over to my room and hung out for a while. I think he would rather have us win, but he can’t really say that.”

While Mike Ingelsby may be a non-vocal supporter of the Irish, there are plenty of vocal supporters in the Ingelsby household. Besides parents Tom and Rose, Martin is the oldest of five children, all basketball players. While they certainly are proud of what he has accomplished, not everyone in his family looks up to him.

“My dad and brother, Brad, are both taller than me,” says Ingelsby. “I think I was adopted. No, just kidding.”

Brad is a freshman at Villanova and also played for their father at Archbishop Carroll. Fifth-grader Tommy plays in the same grade-school league Martin did.

“He’s in fifth grade and made the fifth- and sixth-grade team so he thinks he’s pretty big,” says Ingelsby. “He’ll be taller than me too.” His sister, Chrissi, plays for Archbishop Carroll and seventh-grader Colleen also plays.

“Everybody’s a guard in my family but my little brother,” says Ingelsby. “He’ll be too big to be a guard.”

Ingelsby’s mother played basketball in high school but it was her brother playing basketball that had the biggest impact on Ingelsby’s life. “My uncle played basketball at Villanova with my dad,” says Ingelsby. “That’s how my parents first met.”

That uncle is Rev. Ed Hastings, O.S.A., director of campus ministry at Villanova.

The Ingelsby’s proximity to many of the Mid-Atlantic BIG EAST schools enables them to see more of Notre Dame’s road games than home games.

“My family goes to a lot of the road BIG EAST games,” says Ingelsby. “It is hard for them to come out to home games with my brother and sisters playing. My dad just hops on the train and even goes to the farther places like Connecticut and Providence.”

One of Ingelsby’s most anticipated games won’t be tonight against Villanova, but in two weeks on January 16, when the Irish and Wildcats will square off in Philadelphia at the First Union Center.

“Last year we played Villanova just at home,” says Ingelsby. “It will be cool to get home and play at the First Union Center. There will be so many people there I know.”

In addition to all of his support on the Villanova campus, Ingelsby’s Fisher Hall roommate Ryan Valadez has been there to cheer for him as more than just another student in the stands. Valadez made the cheerleading squad this year and is a member of the Olympic squad, which cheers for the women’s basketball and soccer teams.

“When Ryan first told me he was going to cheer, I was kind of laughing at him, but he wanted to do it and I respect him for doing it,” says Ingelsby. “People are always saying stuff about it, but he likes doing it and I’m going to support him.”

Valadez had the chance to cheer for his roommate in the first two games of the year against Miami and Yale. The varsity cheerleading squad was on the road at the Navy football game.

“At first Martin made the typical cheerleader jokes because he always thought it was maybe a non-male thing to do,” says Valadez. “Once he saw what we do, Martin gained more respect and is really supportive. He comes out and watches me at the soccer games and women’s basketball games.”

In addition to supporting Valadez with his cheerleading, Ingelsby has seen his role on the court shift into a supporting role for the Irish freshmen, both on and off the court. Last season, he had Pat Garrity to show him the way while starting in every game and enduring the highs and lows of the season. This year, at times, Ingelsby has played with freshmen David Graves, Troy Murphy and Harold Swanagan on the court at the same time.

“Last year I was looking to the older guys to help me out and now these guys are looking up to me,” says Ingelsby. “I just go out and try to help them out. They forget the plays sometimes so it is my job to tell them what to do. The three freshmen are real talented and playing really well.”

Ingelsby started all 27 games and earned BIG EAST all-rookie honors a year ago. He averaged 6.6 points and 5.6 assists per game a year ago while attempting 23 free throws, less than one per game.

Through 11 games in 1998-99, his scoring was up to 7.8 points per game with five assists per game. However, Ingelsby already has eclipsed his 1997-98 free throw totals with 27-30 (.900) shooting as a sophomore.

“I have a different role this year, more looking to score than I did last year when I was just trying to get Pat and other guys the ball and trying to get settled in the offense,” says Ingelsby. “This year, coach is asking me to step up my offense and score more. The freshmen are playing really well so I’m trying to get them the ball. I just want to go out and hit the open shot and try to create things for other people.” With eight road games in a 13-game span approaching in January and February, Ingelsby hopes to impart some wisdom he learned a year ago.

“One of the big things about college basketball is the season is so long,” says Ingelsby. “The traveling wears on you and makes it hard to keep up with school. I know what to expect this year so I’m going to try to help the freshmen and not let them get down or get behind on school work.”

After experiencing a roller-coaster season a year ago, Ingelsby is looking for this season to come together.

“We just have to go out and play like we know how to play and hopefully get some wins early,” says Ingelsby. “Overall, we just want to go out and win as many games as possible and hopefully start something this year.”