EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets are expected to announce Rollie Massimino has been hired as their head coach at a Thursday press conference.
Massimino, who coached Villanova to a shocking NCAA championship game victory over Georgetown last season, would replace Stan Albeck. Albeck resigned as Nets coach Monday to become the Chicago Bulls' head coach. Albeck had one year left on his contract.
In the past few days, New Jersey officials have been quoted as saying Massimino, 51, is close to signing a multi-year contract in excess of $300,000 annually.
Massimino, 238-137 in 12 years at Villanova, guided the Wildcats to 10 consecutive winning seasons and eight post-season playoffs.
Massimino is extremely close to his players at Villanova, a small Catholic school outside Philadelphia. However, the size of the salary offer and the charm of Nets president Bernie Mann apparently were enough to persuade him to make the jump to the professional level, where he has never coached.
As an apparent favor to Massimino, New Jersey selected Villanova point guard Gary McLain with its final pick in Tuesday's NBA draft.
Massimino would be the Nets' sixth coach in the past eight years.
According to published reports, the Nets will try and keep veteran assistant coach John Killea to help Massimino make the transition to the pros.
Massimino built his reputation as one of college basketball's most fiery and demonstrative coaches. He is known as a teacher and a master of controlling a game's tempo. He exploited the lack of a time clock, and his teams were notorious for tough defenses and emotional, unselfish play.
He will have the benefit of a veteran team in New Jersey, but one filled with problems over the past few years. The Nets, who orchestrated a first-round upset of Philadelphia two seasons ago in the playoffs, were devastated by injuries last year, and despite making the playoffs never lived up to highexpectations. They were eliminated in the first round by the Detroit Pistons.
Reportedly, Albeck had trouble throughout the season with talented, but moody guard Micheal Ray Richardson.
Massimino began his coaching career as an assistant at Cranford High Scool in New Jersey in 1956. He spent three years there before moving to Hillside High School, also in New Jersey, where he was head coach. From 1963-69, he served as head coach at Lexington High School in Maine. He was 160-61 as a high school coach over 11 years.
He took his first collegiate coaching position at Stony Brook in Long Island, N.Y.. He spent two years there. He then worked under Chuck Daly at the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant. In 1973, he came to Villanova to replace Jack Kraft.