Rollie Massimino, longtime Villanova coach and mastermind behind one of the greatest upsets in North American sports history, has died on Wednesday. Massimino, who battled lung cancer for years, passed away at age 82 in his home in Florida.
Coach Rollie Massimino is best known for winning the title with Villanova University in 1985 NCAA Tournament. Being an 8th seed, Villanova Wildcats first faced the 2nd seeded Memphis State Tigers in the Final Four, finishing the match 52-45 in their favor. The National Championship game saw Wildcats facing Georgetown Hoyas, who were considered heavy favorites having Patrick Ewing. Hoyas were also coming fresh from winning the championship year before. Led by Massimino, Villanova proved more than fit for the challenge, managing to win the match with 66-64. Wildcats were on the 78 percent shooting from the field and they missed just 6 shots that game. Here is what he said at the halftime of the game against Hoyas:
“Do you know what I’d really rather be doing now than anything? Than being here in this room? I’ll tell you. I’d rather be at home, sitting behind a big, steaming, heaping plate of spags (spaghetti). Yeah, that’s right! Macaroni! Linguini with clam sauce! I’d rather be doing that than losing this damn game! Now get out there and do what got you here in the first place!“
Previously serving 3 years at Stony Brook University as the head men’s basketball coach, he took over Villanova University and stayed for 19 seasons having a 355–241 record. Massimino then coached the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Cleveland State University and Keiser University where he stayed until his death. Coach Massimino spent 41 years coaching college basketball, having an 816-462 record. He was also inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and finalist to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.