Story by Chris Kendrick, Northwood Sports Information Director
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Surrounded by close friends and family Thursday night (Nov. 7), Northwood (Fla.) men’s basketball head coach Rollie Massimino had his name, and signature, forever etched into the floor at the Countess de Hoernle Student Life Center, home of the Northwood Seahawks, and will be known as “Massimino Court” for all future home games.
After building the program from scratch in 2006, Massimino has transformed Northwood basketball into a national powerhouse in the NAIA. He has compiled an outstanding record of 201 wins and 41 losses (.830), with seven consecutive trips to the NAIA National tournament, in the program’s short history. Massimino, best known for guiding the Villanova Wildcats to the 1985 NCAA Championship, has amassed 717 wins in his 37 seasons as a college basketball head coach. Following the 2012-13 season, Massimino was elected to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, and will be enshrined later this month in Kansas City, Mo.
On December 29th, 2012, Coach Massimino became the 39th coach to record 700 career wins, and became just the third coach in college basketball history to reach the 700-win plateau and win an NCAA National Championship during their coaching career.
Noted for his "Family Style" coaching, Massimino is considered to be one of the greatest college coaches of all time. He motivates his players with the belief that “Enthusiasm is Contagious!” That message reflects Coach Massimino’s view of life. By giving 100 percent, on and off the court, those around you can’t help but believe and become inspired. In Massimino’s case, he instills enthusiasm into those around him by seemingly giving 110 percent - all the time. He motivates through his ceaseless energy while his enthusiasm for life and the game of basketball radiates onto to his players.
Over the years, Massimino has racked up numerous awards as a coach. In 1985, he was tabbed National Coach of the Year by both MacGregor Sporting Goods and Playboy magazine while in 1982 he earned Big East Coach of the Year accolades, just one of eight times he was honored on a league basis in the NCAA. In 2011 he was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year and narned the Rawlings National Coach of the Year in 2012.
Massimino took his Villanova program to the top in 1985, when the Wildcats pounced on heavily-favored Georgetown to take the NCAA Championship on April 1. During his tenure at Villanova, the Wildcats earned 16 postseason tournament berths with 11 being in the NCAA Tournament. In Villanova’s 12 seasons of Big East play under Massimino, his squads earned two regular-season titles, advanced to the conference championship game three times and compiled a 110-80 (.578) regular-season record.
Massimino began his coaching career in 1956 after graduating from the University of Vermont where he played varsity basketball for three years. His first three seasons he served as an assistant coach at Cranford (NJ) High school before securing his first head coaching job at Hillside (NJ) High School, his prep alma mater, in 1959. From there he moved to Lexington (MA) High School in 1963 where he led one squad to a state championship and another to a 20-1 record.
In 10 seasons as a high school coach, Massimino compiled a 160-61 record. He debuted at the collegiate coaching level in 1969 as the head coach at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Stony Brook. His first team went 19-6, won the conference championship and earned a berth in the NCAA small college tournament. Massimino’s next step was an assistant’s position at the University of Pennsylvania under the late Chuck Daly, known for winning back-to-back NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990. In March 1973, Massimino left Penn to succeed Jack Kraft as the head coach at Villanova. Massimino has a master’s degree equivalent in health and physical education from Rutgers University (1959) and a bachelor’s degree from Vermont (1956) in education. Massimino and his wife Mary Jane have five children - Tom, Lee Ann, Michele, Roland (R.C.) and Andrew - as well as 16 grandchildren.