Alma Mater: Michigan State (B.A., 2003); Wayne State (M.A., 2005); Michigan State (M.S., 2008)
Roosevelt University Head Men's Basketball Coach Joe Griffin enters his fifth season at the helm of the Lakers, positioning his team for its best season yet in 2014-15 as he continues his reconstruction efforts in a program that was dormant for 21 years.
Named the fourth head coach in school history on August 17, 2009 and the first since the Roosevelt University Athletic Department was restarted that year, Griffin has quickly cemented his reputation as a tireless recruiter, dedicated instructor and razor-sharp in-game tactician.
The Lakers are fresh off the best showing in modern program history. In 2013-14, Griffin guided the squad to 16 wins and, more remarkably considering an injury to star forward Jeremiah Jackson, a milestone berth to the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Final Four. The Lakers advanced to the league semifinals, the farthest a Roosevelt squad has ventured in a CCAC tourney, and stood just a win away from earning an inaugural berth to the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship. Griffin’s Green and White team also garnered early-season votes in the NAIA Top 25, another first for the program that signified the arrow is pointing up for the Lakers.
Roosevelt started 2013-14 with seven consecutive NAIA wins and weathered storms involving injuries and close losses to nationally-ranked teams to finish with two gritty overtime wins in the CCAC Tournament, including a quarterfinal road victory at perennial power Olivet Nazarene. Buoyed by CCAC leading assist man Tyree York, who garnered All-CCAC Honorable Mention recognition for the second straight season by leading the league with 6.2 helpers per contest, the Lakers were in prime position for a first-ever national berth but fell to eventual CCAC champion Saint Xavier in the final stages of their semifinal matchup.
2013-13 was also a huge step forward for Griffin's third-year program. Led by All-CCAC Honorable Mention sophomores in York and Jackson to go with Brandyn Denson's senior leadership and sophomore Joe Harks' team-leading scoring output, the Lakers won 15 games, marking the first time the team registered double-digit wins. Roosevelt posted more victories in 2012-13 than the previous two seasons combined, with the Lakers continuing their upward trend by increasing their wins and winning percentage for a third consecutive year.
The 2011-12 season was a great success for the Lakers in only their second season of play, going 9-20 overall, good for a five-win improvement. The Lakers finished second in the conference in opponent three-point field goal percentage and second overall in offensive rebounding, confirming their style as aggressive and always on the attack. Roosevelt also finished third in the conference in steals and in defensive rebounding percentage. The Lakers were led by seniors Paul Tometich and Mark Tometich, with Paul earning Second Team All-CCAC and Mark earning Honorable Mention All-CCAC. They were joined in recognition by Denson, who was voted Second Team All-CCAC as well. The Lakers recorded signature wins at home over Ashford and conference rival St. Francis, while playing an ultra-competitive schedule, including three NCAA Division I exhibitions.
From the time Griffin was hired until the Lakers’ first game on Nov. 3, 2010, Griffin built a squad in less than 12 months that took to the hardwood for the first time since 1989 and quickly proved they belonged. Just 10 games into the 2010-11 campaign, the Lakers recorded a signature win with an 89-78 triumph over defending CCAC Tournament Champion Saint Xavier. Griffin's coaching acumen was evident in the development of his student-athletes over the course of the year, including junior guard Paul Tometich, who blossomed into one of the league's top players. Under Griffin's tutelage, Tometich led the CCAC in scoring at 21.4 points per game, while also ranking in the top 10 in rebounding and assists en route to All-League honors.
Under Griffin's leadership, Roosevelt men's basketball has been predicated on hard work and success in various facets on and off the court. Defense. Rebounding. Academics, as proven by his team's last two spring semesters of combined GPAs of 3.0 or better. A complete and well-rounded student-athlete experience.
In addition to promoting commitment to basketball and academics, Griffin is a major proponent of giving back to the community. He has engaged his team in numerous volunteering and community service e efforts, including a basketball clinic in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood as part of a partnership with the Chicago Police Department that earned recognition from the CPD and the 7th District Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (C.A.P.S.) Office and annual participation in Coaches vs. Cancer activities. His emphasis on camaraderie has been shown with his team’s presence at various Roosevelt athletic and campus events to support fellow Lakers and campus units.
Griffin joined Roosevelt after spending the 2008-09 season as an assistant at NCAA Division II Eastern New Mexico University. The 34-year old Michigan native learned his trade, though, under the tutelage of Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo, serving for two seasons (2006-08) as a graduate assistant coach for the Spartans.
At Michigan State, Griffin played pivotal roles for the Spartans in the areas of player development, strength and conditioning, opponent and self-scouting, travel, film exchange and recruiting. In his two seasons with the Spartans, Griffin aided Michigan State to 50 wins and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the ‘Sweet 16' in 2008.
Griffin's coaching philosophy, which emphasizes defense and rebounding, was reflected in the Spartans' play during his tenure. The squad led the Big Ten in rebounding margin and was amongst the nation's leaders in field goal percentage defense each year. Griffin helped in the development of many former and current Michigan State standouts during his tenure, including NBA Draft pick Goran Suton (2009 All-Big Ten), Travis Walton (2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year), Raymar Morgan (2008 All-Big Ten), Drew Neitzel (2008 All-Big Ten, All-America Second Team), and Kalin Lucas (2009 Big Ten Player of the Year).
Griffin obtained his second graduate degree in 2008, a Master of Science in Coaching at Michigan State. He was also a guest instructor within the Kinesiology department of the College of Education and a featured speaker at the 2008 Spartan Strength & Conditioning Clinic.
Griffin was born in Flint and later graduated from Romeo High School in Romeo, Mich. Griffin went on to play two seasons at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron, Mich., before heading to Michigan State, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising in 2003.
Griffin's next stop was graduate school at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich, earning a Master of Arts in Sports Administration and taking his first coaching job, leading the freshman team and assisting the varsity team at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, Mich., during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Griffin headed to Jacksonville, Fla., for one year as assistant varsity boys basketball coach and English teacher at Sandalwood High School before returning to his home state to take the graduate assistant position for Coach Izzo.
Griffin is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) as well as the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) and has worked and been involved with numerous basketball camps and clinics throughout the country. He is also the 2014-15 CCAC men’s basketball sport chair.
He and his wife, Suzanne, live in Oak Park, Ill. The couple has one son, Jackson Joseph, and a daughter, Colleen.
Aaron Rolle enters his fourth season as an assistant coach for the Roosevelt men's basketball team and his second full year as the program's top assistant to head coach Joe Griffin.
After serving as a volunteer assistant since the 2011-12 campaign, Rolle seamlessly transitioned into a greater role with the Lakers in the middle of the 2012-13 season after former top assistant Kevin Devitt earned an opportunity to join the staff of NCAA Division I program UAB. Rolle proved to be a steady source of leadership for Griffin during a season in which Roosevelt won more games than the previous two seasons combined.
Rolle continued to make an impact on the program in his first full year as lead assistant coach. His coaching acumen helped propel the Lakers to a modern era school-best 16 wins and a first-ever trip to the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Final Four in 2013-14.
"Aaron is a natural teacher and a great role model for our guys,” said Griffin. “Aaron’s strongest attributes are in his ability to relate to our players, recruits, and all stakeholders in our program.”
Rolle, who turns 31 in October, has helped position the Lakers for another step forward in 2014-15. He was the lead recruiter in landing Bolingbrook standout Joshua Dillingham and has helped in the development of the Lakers’ returning corps of veteran contributors with skill sessions, weight training, and other facets that have improved his team’s student-athletes and, as a result, the Lakers’ chances of improving off of last season’s success.
Prior to joining Griffin's staff in 2011-12, Rolle served as an assistant coach at Sterling High School in his hometown of Sterling, Ill. during the 2010-11 season. He was the head freshman and varsity assistant coach for Dixon High School for the 2008-09 campaign.
Rolle graduated from DePaul University in 2008 and has worked numerous camps and clinics, including the Reebok Headliner Camp, since leaving Lincoln Park. He recently worked at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois as a Residential Treatment Specialist before becoming a full-time assistant coach at Roosevelt.
In addition to his coaching duties, Rolle also directs Roosevelt's intramural and recreational programming at the Chicago campus and has increased the University’s intramural offerings with 5-on-5 basketball leagues, special recreational events and a partnership with Columbia College Chicago that involves cross-promotional events and classes at both campuses and across the Chicago area.
Rolle is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA). He lives in Chicago.