Jeff Goodman initially reported that Navy Head Coach Billy Lange has decided to return to Jay Wright's staff in the role of Associate Head Coach. He served as an assistant under Wright for three years, from 2001 to 2003 before leaving to take a job coaching at the United States Naval Academy.
Lange compiled a 132-132 record in seven years as the coach at the Patriot League-based service academy. Goodman believes that Lange will step in to recruit at a high level. He will hopefully help settle down any qualms that future Villanova recruits were reportedly having over the departure of Chris Walker.
A source had recently told VUhoops that some commits would be unhappy about Walker's departure and may have had some interest in re-opening their recruitment. So far, none had officially re-opened their recruitment, however. No names were mentioned.
Lange is a native of Haddon Heights, New Jersey.
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
VILLANOVA, Pa. – Billy Lange, who served three seasons on the Villanova coaching staff from 2001-04, is returning to the program as associate head coach, it was announced today. Lange, 39, spent the last seven seasons as head coach at the United States Naval Academy.
In addition, it was announced today that assistant coach Chris Walker has departed the program for another opportunity in college coaching.
"Billy is a passionate and dedicated coach who played a substantial role in instilling the qualities that our staff values most during our early years here," stated Wright. "Now he returns with the added experience of having built his own program at the Division I level. His knowledge and passion will be a great boost to our young team. We are thrilled to welcome Billy, his wife Alicia and their family back to Villanova."
Lange inherited a squad that had won five games in the season prior to his arrival and under his direction Navy improved its win totals in each of his first five seasons, highlighted by a 19-11 effort in 2008-09. In 2008 he was named Patriot League Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the 2009 Skip Prosser Man of the Year award. Five of his players were recognized by the Patriot League as first team Academic All-League choices and Navy’s 30 league wins over the last four seasons were the third highest total of any league program.
Lange – who also posted a 39-19 record as head coach at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy before coming to Villanova as director of basketball operations in 2001 – owns a lifetime 131-134 record in nine seasons as a head coach.
"Once you are touched by the people of the Villanova community, the energy of the Nova Nation, and the family that is Villanova Basketball, it becomes such a big part of who you are--it impacts you for life," said Lange. "It is with great enthusiasm and admiration that I become a part of it once again. The opportunity to work at a place I've been passionate about my whole life, in an elite program, and in college basketball's best conference is a blessing. Also, to work with Jay - a coach, a leader, and a man that I hold in the highest regard was one that I felt was so right in so many ways.
"In our talks over the last week he expressed tremendous drive, focus, and energy for this next era of Villanova Basketball. It was inspiring and I'm excited to be a part of. My seven years of head coaching at the Naval Academy will serve us well in any way Jay sees fit.
"Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat."
Walker, a 1992 Villanova graduate, served two seasons as an assistant coach in his second tour of duty as a Wildcat assistant.
"Chris is a proven coach who made a great impact on our staff," stated Wright. "He received an opportunity to advance his career and we couldn’t be happier for him. That is the aspiration we have for every member of our basketball family."
It is anticipated there will be an additional announcement regarding the 2011-12 Villanova staff in the coming weeks.
"Billy’s return is a significant step in this process," stated Wright, "but we expect to have more to announce soon."