OBIT­U­AR­IES

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - AP Bas­ket­ball Writer BY TIM REYNOLDS

Ex- Nova coach Mas­simino dead at 82,

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rol­lie Mas­simino, who led Villanova’s sto­ried run to the 1985 NCAA cham­pi­onship and won more than 800 games in his coach­ing ca­reer, died Wed­nes­day af­ter a long bat­tle with can­cer. He was 82.

Mr. Mas­simino’s death was an­nounced by Keiser Univer­sity, where he was still the men’s bas­ket­ball coach. He spent the fi­nal days of his life in hospice care.

Best known for that na­tional ti­tle at Villanova, Mr. Mas­simino also coached at Stony Brook, UNLV and Cleve­land State. He spent the last 11 years of his life at Keiser, where he started the pro­gram and turned it into an NAIA power.

“As our cam­pus com­mu­nity deeply mourns the loss of Coach Mas­simino, we ex­tend our warmest thoughts and con­do­lences to his wife, Mary Jane, and the en­tire Mas­simino fam­ily,” Keiser Chan­cel­lor Arthur Keiser said. “We are so truly hon­ored to have shared this time with him and take some de­gree of com­fort in know­ing the pos­i­tive im­pact he has had on col­lege stu­dents for the last four decades re­mains im­mea­sur­able.”

Mr. Mas­simino faced nu­mer­ous health is­sues in re­cent years yet never stopped coach­ing. And even though he left Villanova 25 years ago, he was still con­sid­ered fam­ily by the Wild­cats and coach Jay Wright.

“If not for Rol­lie Mas­simino, I’m not even a part of this,” Wright once said.

Roland Vin­cent Mas­simino was born Nov. 13, 1934, in New Jersey, played his col­lege bas­ket­ball at Ver­mont and got his mas­ter’s de­gree from Rutgers. His first head coach­ing job was at his alma mater, Hill­side High School, in 1962. His col­lege coach­ing ca­reer started at Stony Brook in 1969, and af­ter two sea­sons, he be­came an as­sis­tant at Penn — un­der Chuck Daly.

Mr. Mas­simino and Daly would re­main close un­til Daly’s death in 2009. Like Daly, Mr. Mas­simino was al­ways dap­per on the side­lines. So when Daly died, Mr. Mas­simino took Daly’s col­lec­tion of sharp dress shoes and wore a pair in ev­ery game he coached for the re­main­der of his life.

“Chuck is al­ways with me,” Mr. Mas­simino said this year.

Af­ter one sea­son at Penn, Mr. Mas­simino took over at Villanova. He spent 19 sea­sons there, best re­mem­bered by the 1985 NCAA ti­tle run that was any­thing but easy — for many rea­sons.

Villanova needed a last- sec­ond stop just to es­cape over Day­ton ( a game played at Day­ton, no less) in the first round. The Wild­cats ral­lied from a deficit to beat North Carolina for a trip to the Fi­nal Four, then downed Mem­phis State in the na­tional semi­fi­nals. That left a Villanova vs. Ge­orge­town show­down. Villanova shot a stag­ger­ing 79 per­cent in the ti­tle game, go­ing 22 for 28, and pulled off a 66- 64 up­set.

“This is the great­est thing to ever hap­pen to me,” Mas­simino said that night.

He was a fi­nal­ist for en­shrine­ment in the Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame this year. Mas­simino is sur­vived by his wife, five chil­dren and 17 grand­chil­dren. Funeral ar­range­ments were not im­me­di­ately an­nounced.

“Peo­ple say I’ve given a lot to bas­ket­ball,” Mas­simino told AP ear­lier this year. “Let me tell you some­thing: Bas­ket­ball has given a whole lot more to me.”

Villanova coach Rol­lie Mas­simino takes a vic­tory ride on his play­ers’ shoul­ders af­ter the Wild­cats up­set North Carolina in the NCAA South­east Re­gional in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, on March 24, 1985.

| AP

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