Thursday, April 4, 2013

Former men's hoops coach Rollie Massimino inducted to College Basketball Hall of Fame

Stony Brook, N.Y. - Former Stony Brook men's basketball head coach Rollie Massimino has been elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame. One of the all-time legends in college basketball coaching, Massimino has amassed over 700 wins as a coach in the NCAA and NAIA ranks.

Massimino will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Nov. 23 in Kansas City, Mo., as part of a three-day celebration that includes the CBE Classic.

Massimino's first head coaching opportunity came right here at Stony Brook from 1969-71, and he left an indelible impression on the program as he was the first coach at Stony Brook to lead the program to an NCAA Tournament, taking the 1969-70 squad to the NCAA College Division Tournament after going undefeated in the Knickerbocker Conference (8-0). That season's team was also the first in program history to boast a 10-game winning streak during the season. Under Massimino that season, Stony Brook won 17 in an 18-game stretch, finishing the regular season 18-4 before losing twice at the NCAA Tournament.

According to Hank von Mechow, Stony Brook's first athletics director and an associate professor at the university during the Massimino Era, earning a berth into the NCAA College Division Tournament "was one of the first things that got the students excited for athletics."

Massimino was well liked at Stony Brook and did great things as a coach and mentor to student-athletes, helping spark a Hall of Fame career in collegiate coaching.

"I can't think of anyone who taught the fundamentals of basketball better than Rollie Massimino," said John Ramsey, Stony Brook's head men's soccer coach from 1963-77 and former director of men's athletics and men's physical education. "Rollie inspired kids to improve; he was truly an amazing coach.

"I learned a lot from observing his methods; he was tremendous in terms of preparing his team for a game. I've been around coaches for most of my life, and I can easily say that Rollie ranks among the best I've ever seen."

"I was on the search committee to hire a new basketball coach, and we really liked Rollie," von Mechow said. "He was very funny and very personable. We enjoyed him a lot."

Massimino also can boast being the first coach at Stony Brook to recruit students to play sports on campus.

"Rollie brought the concept of recruiting to Stony Brook," said Paul Dudzick, who spent 36 years at Stony Brook, including eight as the director of men's athletics. "Before Rollie, you just had walk-ons. But he was an organized recruiter and was committed to it. In those days before athletic scholarships, he only had a great education and a great basketball experience to offer."

In two seasons, Stony Brook was 33-16 under Massimino, who moved on to become an assistant at Pennsylvania under legendary head coach Chuck Daly.

After two seasons as an assistant at Penn, Massimino was named the head coach at Villanova, where he and the Wildcats staged one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history in 1985. As a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Villanova defeated Dayton, Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina and Memphis State to reach the national championship game. In a thriller, the underdog Wildcats upset the defending champion Georgetown Hoyas, 66-64, to win the national championship.

Massimino also had coaching stops and UNLV (1992-94) and Cleveland State (1996-2003) and is currently the head coach at Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla. He led the Seahawks to the NAIA national championship game in 2012, and led them to a 30-4 record in 2013. He won his 700th career game on Dec. 29, 2012.