Most athletics departments were unprepared to deal with the phenomena*, or to
otYer meaningful advice to the athletes. Villanova was no exception.
Convinced that Porter had signed with an
agent prematurely, the NCAA eventually
stripped Villanova of its second-place finish
and Porter of his most outstanding player
trophy. Also recalled was Villanova's tournament check, which that year had reached
a record $72,347 for Final Four participants (as compared to $1 million-plus in
1990). To this day, the 1971 Villanova team
and its most outstanding player appear in
NCAA championship records as, "vacated."
Hard times were only beginning. The nucleus of the 1971 Wildcats had been recruited by George Raveling, who since had
joined Lefty Driesell at Maryland and eventually would have tenures as head coach at
Washington State, Iowa and Southern California.
Georgetown, however, was
pre-eminent. Having won
convincingly at the 1984 Final
Four in Seattle, the Hoyas — in
the final year of the Patrick
Ewing era — were clear favorites
to repeat. There was talk of a
Porter and Smith departed after the 1971
season, Ford and Siemiontkowski a year later, and — when Ingelsby left in the spring
of 1973 — so did Kraft for Rhode Island.
Aboard came Roland Massimino, moving
over from Pennsylvania where he had assisted Chuck Daly, now coach of the Detroit Pistons.
Inheriting a bare cupboard, Rollie set
about refilling it with a commitment that
approached the fanatic. Exxon produced
less energy than Rollie did in those days.
Before coaching a game at Villanova,
Massimino managed what was widely regarded as a breakthrough recruiting year
(Tour of the freshmen would start), spread
the Villanova gospel at some 60 summer
camps and clinics (usually for no fee) and
checked into a Vermont hospital suffering
chest pains ("It felt like my heart was about
to leap out of my skin").
Massimino's first team won seven times.
"Winning is important," Rollie would say at
one point, "but not THAT important."
Cinderella Villanova celebrates its 66-64 upset championship win over Georgetown in 1985.
His courtside demeanor suggested otherwise. Rollie was all-Italian along the sidelines, a squat, emotional, study in perpetual
motion. Fashionably attired at tipoff, his
appearance by game's end would tempt one
to ask, "Were there, perhaps, injuries during the hurricane?"
It was performance that was important to
Massimino, with high standards not con-
Sixth-man Harold Jensen sparkled off the
bench for the Wildcats, scoring 14 points on
5-of-5 shooting from the field.
fined to the playing surface. "The first goal
of any Villanova player is to graduate," he
said, in establishing academic parameters
for his program that — the record suggests
— have been maintained.
Before we departed Philadelphia for the
West Coast in the early 1980s, Massimino
had returned Villanova to its accustomed
position among college basketball's elite.
By 1985 he had assembled a varsity that,
talent-wise, was the strongest Villanova edition since the national finalists of 1971.
Georgetown, however, was pre-eminent.
Having won convincingly at the 1984 Final
Four in Seattle, the Hoyas — in the final
year of the Patrick Ewing era — were clear
favorites to repeat. There was talk of a developing dynasty.
When Villanova defeated Memphis State
to advance, 52-45, to the title game,
Georgetown was waiting. "People were
saying the game shouldn't even be played,"
Massimino later recalled. "Everyone had
written us off, but I honestly thought we
As it turned out, optimism was not confined to the head coach. During the Ewing
years, seniors Gary McLain, Ed Pinckney
and Dwayne McClain would play Georgetown on 10 occasions, winning three times.
Probably no team of that winter had a better
understanding of what was required to deal
with the Hoyas. Intimidation — which
Georgetown used with studied success
against most opponents — would not be a