Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) — When you think of Allen Griffin you think of one thing: the sport of basketball.
The basketball Griffin learned as a child is not the one, you’d expect.
“We would get creative using the monkey bars on the playground as the hop. There were no jump shots or anything besides dunking the ball through the monkey bars to score a point,” said Griffin.
This creativity and joy around the game is what would foster the love of basketball that would stay alive in Griffin’s heart forever as he takes on a new role as a coach.
The New York native from Brownsville was an All-American, team captain and MVP at Paul Robeson High School. This led him to be recruited by Hall of Fame Syracuse head coach, Jim Boeheim. Griffin played for the Orange from 1997 to 2001 where his teams earned an NCAA invitation every four years.
One thing that follows Griffin everywhere he goes is winning. As a player his record at Syracuse was 98-36 (.731 winning percentage). While you may look at his stats and think that the two seasons he started as a sophomore and senior were the most impactful, but it was his junior year where he credits all his growth to.
“I wrote thank you on the back of every practice jersey I have ever had. and all my sneakers that I have ever had, my sneakers that year. I think it was every time coach saw the back of my jersey…he was always going to see a thank you. It fueled a fire in me that I took for granted,” said Griffin.
Griffin credits his junior year to what led him in the direction of coaching and gave him a place on the Syracuse coaching staff.
Allen brought 15 years of Division One coaching experience to the Orange staff. In Allen’s six seasons on Syracuse’s staff Griffin has played a part in Syracuse reaching the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 twice and an additional NCAA Tournament berth.
While there is a turnover at the head coaching position for the first time in 47 years, there will be one thing that remains the same. Griffin will be bringing passion to the court like he always has.