When I look at the college basketball landscape, I sit there in amazement as we don't have the kind of superstar personalities on the sidelines coaching these days. I really miss guys who electrified fans like the late Jimmy V, the late Al McGuire, Looie Carnesecca, Robert Montgomery Knight, John Thompson, Jerry Tarkanian, the late Abe Lemons. These guys became so big with their strong personalities.
I think back to 1985 and the miracle run put together by Villanova and its coach Rollie Massimino. Talk about a dynamic personality! My fellow paison led the Wildcats to the championship, and my friends, he is still ticking!
Massimino has Northwood University down in West Palm Beach, Florida ranked #8 in NAIA Division II. The list of opponents is not Georgetown, Syracuse or St. John's, but the likes of Johnson and Wales, Edward Waters and Life College of Georgia. The bottom line is Rollie loves being on the sidelines, teaching and coaching college student-athletes.
He has the unbelievable desire to get back on the sidelines and his team is 24-4. His Seahawks will be in a national tournament competing for a championship.
Rollie is a master motivator. He provided one of the most memorable moments in college basketball, one I ranked among the top five in my new book (Fabulous 50 Players and Moments) as his Wildcats stunned Georgetown in Lexington, Kentucky. Villanova cut down the nets as it pitched the perfect game, shooting over 70 percent in the second half against the tenacious defense of the Hoyas and Patrick Ewing (number one player in my book!).
I recently spoke with Rollie and he is the same bubbly person. His enthusiasm and energy is just the same as when he coached guys like Ed Pinckney and Dwayne McClain to the title. The names are different (his top player at Northwood, when healthy, is Providence transfer DeSean White, his top scorer and rebounder). His roster with the Seahawks looks like the United Nations with players from Croatia, New Zealand, Australia and Nigeria.
He is excited as can be about coaching, proud to have a team that it is winning. Massimino is also thrilled to have former NBA star Dennis Hopson on his bench as an assistant. He believes Hopson is ready for a head coaching job at another level.
It was great to talk to the former Villanova coach; it brought back so many great memories. He is one of the super guys to grace the sidelines. It is fantastic to know he still enjoys what he does best, working with young people.