Today’s #TBT sports blog honors legendary Villanova basketball coach Rollie Massimino who passed away yesterday at age 82.
Still actively coaching at NAIA school Keiser University in West Palm Beach, FL, the “basketball lifer” is best remembered for guiding the Villanova Wildcats to the 1985 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
College basketball players, fans, coaches and pundits have claimed that on that memorable day the Villanova Wildcats emerged as the closest a college hoops team has ever come to playing a perfect game.
Others have cited that April 1, 1985 marked the greatest upset victory in the history of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Games.
The iconic win captivated college basketball fans. At Lexington, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena, Villanova captured its first ever NCAA men’s tournament crown under its likeable chubby coach Rollie Massimino.
Massimino Will Never Be Forgotten
However, away from the hardwood, Rollie Massimino will never be forgotten for the man and mentor he became. Apart from his watershed moment in 1985, his legacy will remain for the indelible positive impact he personally made on others.
Colorful, energetic and fiery at times, Massimino was totally authentic. The New Jersey native embodied the college coach basketball fans loved to love!
Fans won’t easily forget images of the man’s messed hair, askew tie and un-tucked buttoned down shirt that just could never remain inside his trousers.
Winner of 816 college games, Massimino had few distractors.
Even Big East coaching adversaries Jim Boeheim, Lou Carneseca, Jim Calhoun, Bill Raftery and John Thompson, Jr. failed to find fault with the exuberant little guy incapable of sitting quietly on the Wildcats bench.
And, his former players and assistant coaches adored him.
Known for his fatherly familiarity, Massimino was widely regarded for gathering former players and colleagues, even protege Jay Wright, at dinners and get togethers in order to offer insight, guidance and lots of laughs.
The kind of college coach for whom most parents would want their son to play, Massimino will always be remembered for Villanova’s epic run to the title in the 1985 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
However, those who knew him best will forever praise him for being a role model as father, mentor and coach.
R.I.P. Rollie Massimino.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!