Let's ask a hack question of the screenwriter in the Ingelsby family. Brad Ingelsby has written scripts that turned into films starring Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, and Ed Harris. (He's no hack.) If Ingelsby were to conjure up a screenplay about his own family's basketball adventures, how would it start?
Talking on the phone this week from Los Angeles, Ingelsby thought for a second. "I think I would start at a young age. We had a little half-court in our driveway. One-on-one games after school."
The games in that driveway in Berwyn were with his brother Martin, older by 16 months.
"Unfortunately, I remember never winning a game," said Brad Ingelsby, a Villanova graduate himself.
The brother who kept beating him stayed on the court, where you can still find Martin Ingelsby. He went on to star at Archbishop Carroll High, playing for their father, who still might have the biggest Ingelsby hoop name in this area. Martin went on to a strong career as point guard at Notre Dame, and he's been part of the Irish hoop program for almost all of the last two decades.
Martin is back in town with Notre Dame this week, as Mike Brey's top assistant. The Irish will face Wisconsin Friday night in the NCAA's Sweet 16.
"My parents remind me that I've been out in the Midwest I think for half my life now," Martin Ingelsby said Thursday, standing in a locker room at the Wells Fargo Center. "I have three kids now. My wife is from Denver. We don't have a chance to get to Philly too often. Every time we come back, we land at the airport and go straight to the Jersey Shore."
Let's point out that this screenplay has to have flashbacks, including to the 1971 Final Four, when Tom Ingelsby, their father, was a starting guard for Villanova.
"Just a terrific all-around player," said Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon, who played at Villanova just ahead of Ingelsby. "He was 6-foot-4, athletic. Could really jump and rebound. Shot well and very good passer. Just a winner. Just a player. Could play point or two."
There can be flashbacks to another Philly guy, Fran McCaffery, now Iowa's coach, recruiting Ingelsby when McCaffery was an Irish assistant. The choice for Ingelsby was Princeton or Notre Dame. The Irish were never a tough sell in his house. Saturday schedules were built around Notre Dame football games.
This script naturally includes a stop at Wawa. Martin's children are staying with his parents, who showed up at the team hotel to pick up the grandkids. Yes, they had a Wawa bag. Iced tea is his biggest thing.
"My parents give me a hard time," Ingelsby said. "I have an obsession with Wawa. . . . Every time we go to Philly recruiting, I'll land at the airport and go to the Wawa down the street from the airport."
The basketball part of the script will veer back to Villanova. Martin's sister is married to Baker Dunleavy, the top Villanova assistant. Martin will admit trading thoughts with his brother-in-law this week since Villanova was facing Miami. (And Notre Dame almost had Xavier.) Summers at the Shore include hoops talk.
If the father appears in the film as a coach, he'll remember the son's basketball IQ. "He understood the game from a very early age," Tom Ingelsby said. "He asked a lot of questions. He watched a lot of games. He played a lot of games."
Martin broke Carroll's all-time scoring record, but his father remembers him as the guy who saw the play before it developed, who would make the right pass all the time on a three-on-two break.
A question now is whether the film ends with Martin as a college head coach. Ingelsby made it clear he had interest in the Delaware or Drexel job. However, Zach Spiker took the Drexel job Thursday, according to sources. Remember that Mike Brey coached at Delaware before going to Notre Dame, where Ingelsby was his first point guard.
If the answer is up to Brey, Notre Dame's coach makes it clear what will happen. Asked about the qualities that Brey sees that have him touting Ingelsby as a head coach, Brey said Thursday, "I think somebody's going to get him. I'd be thrilled if the guys in Newark got him. I think he'd be an unbelievable fit. But that process, I'm sure, will play itself out."
Brey was rolling, talking about how Notre Dame's players love Ingelsby, that he knows how to connect and communicate.
"He's the whole package," Brey said. "We've been known for our offensive efficiency and how we've played. He has as much input in what we do offensively as I do. We conspire on a lot of things."
Every script needs a little conspiracy. Let's end it there, with a scene still to be shot Friday night in South Philadelphia. Call the whole thing still in development.