Ex-Villanova coach Massimino will not travel to Houston for NCAA final

Rollie Massimino has waited 31 years to see Villanova back in the national title game, but the former Wildcats coach is unable to travel to Houston for Monday’s title game between the Wildcats and North Carolina because his wife, Mary Jane, is not feeling well.

“I have to stay here with her,” Massimino said. Rollie and Mary Jane have been married for 58 years.

Massimino, 81, spoke Sunday about the Wildcats’ run, his 1984-85 NCAA tournament-winning team and his friendly rivalry with Tequesta neighbor and close friend Billy Cunningham, the former North Carolina star.

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Though he is now the head coach at Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Massimino could not help but think back 31 years, almost to the day, when watching Villanova destroy Oklahoma in Saturday’s Final Four.

On that night, his Villanova team shot an NCAA tournament record 78.6 percent (22 of 28) while upsetting Georgetown 68-64 in the championship game. On Saturday, Nova, coached by Massimino protege Jay Wright, came as close as anybody has to breaking that record by hitting 71.4 percent of its shots in a stunning 95-51 victory.

Massimino said he was “not shocked” by the Wildcats’ ridiculous shooting display.

“They played great defense. In this kind of tournament every year you’ve got to have a good guard, you have to have someone that can shoot the ball from the foul line and you’ve got to play defense,” Massimino said. “Those are the three keys and Villanova did all three spectacularly well.

“Jay Wright did a marvelous job of preparing the kids.”

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