The all-time leader in wins at Saint Joseph's, Cindy Griffin '91 enters her 19th season as head coach of the Hawks in 2019-20. A 1991 and 1993 graduate of SJU, Griffin (nee Anderson) has compiled an overall record of 369-280 in 21 seasons as a head coach, and a 321-247 record over 18 years at Hawk Hill that has included 11 postseason appearances.
The eighth coach in NCAA Division I history to lead her alma mater to the NCAA Tournament as a player and a coach, Griffin’s squads have posted six 20-win seasons and six victories over nationally-ranked teams, while her players have been honored as Atlantic 10 All-Conference performers 20 times and 16 have gone on to play professionally.
Guiding a veteran squad, Griffin brought SJU back to the postseason in 2017-18 as the Hawks advanced to Second Round of the WNIT and finished with a 19-15 overall record, marking the most games played (34) in a single-season in team history. Capturing the Hawk Classic title in November, the Hawks battled back from injures during conference play to five of their last six conference games and carried that momentum up to the title game of the A-10 Championship. Along the way, senior Chelsea Woods earned All-Big 5 First Team and A-10 All-Conference Third Team honors, with junior Sarah Veilleux being selected Big 5 Scholar-Athlete, named to the All-Big 5 Second Team and joined graduate student Amanda Fioravanti on the A-10 All-Academic Team.
Behind a resilient team, the 2016-17 Hawks battled back from a slow start to become one of the top teams in the Atlantic 10. Finishing third in the conference standings, the Hawks advanced to the semifinals of the A-10 Championship and earned the program’s 10th Postseason WNIT berth. Individually, Chelsea Woods was named an A-10 All-Conference honoree and was selected to the All-Big 5 Second Team. Joining Woods on the All-Big 5 Second Team, Adashia Franklyn also garnered Big 5 most Improved Player accolades, while Sarah Veilleux was recognized as the Big 5 Scholar Athlete. Behind a pair of 1,000-point scorers in seniors Sarah Fairbanks and Ciara Andrews in 2015-16, Saint Joseph's finished tied for sixth in the A-10 behind a strong finish to the regular season. Finishing among the attendance leaders in the conference, the Hawks added to their mantle as they claimed the Hawk Classic title. Additionally, Fairbanks was named the Big 5's Scholar-Athlete, while sophomore Chelsea Woods was selected the Big 5's Most Improved Player.
Backed by First Team All-Big 5 selection Natasha Cloud, the Hawks earned a share of the Big 5 title in 2014-15. Cloud, who garnered A-10 All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team accolades, also became just the third SJU player to be selected in the WNBA Draft as she was picked by the Washington Mystics in the second round in 2015.
Following up their A-10 Championship the season prior, the 2013-14 Hawks continued to prove themselves as one of the top programs nationally as they earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Second Round for just the seventh time in team history. Led by Erin Shields and Cloud, Saint Joseph's earned its fifth straight postseason bid and claimed its first outright Philadelphia Big 5 title since 2000-01.
Under Griffin’s leadership, Saint Joseph’s posted one of its most memorable seasons in team history in 2012-13 as the Hawks claimed the Atlantic 10 Championship for just the third time and earned the automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Led by a senior class that had advanced to the postseason every year, the Hawks finished with a 23-9 record that included wins over #5 Maryland and #11 Dayton.
In addition to the team’s success, a trio of Hawks were singled out for their performances, led by NCAA Woman of the Year nominee Chatilla van Grinsven. With Griffin’s guidance, van Grinsven turned in one of the more dominant seasons in recent SJU history, becoming just the fifth player in SJU history to average a double-double for the year en route to being named to the A-10 All-Conference First Team and as the Big 5 Player of the Year. The duo of backcourt mates Shields and Cloud helped propel SJU to new heights, with Shields garnering A-10 and Big 5 Most Improved Player honors and I-AAA distinction, while Cloud was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 A-10 Championship.
Backed by a veteran-laden team in 2011-12, the Hawks earned their third-straight WNIT berth and posted their most wins (22) since the 2003-04 season. Moving into second place in career victories at her alma mater, Griffin picked up her 200th win as the Hawks topped Boston University in the opening game of the WNIT on March 15, 2012. Leading the Hawks to a 15-4 mark at home, she helped Saint Joseph’s become one of the more efficient teams in the nation, ranking fourth in fewest turnovers per game (12.5), 26th in three-point percentage (.348) and 39th in field goal percentage (.423).
Individually, senior Michelle Baker and Kelly Cavallo had breakout years, both garnering All-Big 5 honors. Behind Griffin’s teaching, Baker went on to be named to the A-10 All-Conference Second Team and capped her career as SJU’s then all-time leader in games played (127) while ranking in the top 20 for scoring and field goals made. After seeing limited time as a freshman, Cavallo developed into one of the top post players in the A-10, leading SJU and finishing in the top five of the conference in rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage. With Griffin’s aid, Cavallo finished her career second all-time in blocks and 11th in rebounding at SJU.
Returning just one starter for the 2010-11 season, the Hawks quickly jelled under Griffin’s guidance as they went on to win 20 games, earned the program’s 700th victory, and advanced to the second round of the WNIT. Led by All-Big 5 honorees Baker and Katie Kuester, Saint Joseph’s had its most efficient offensive showing since 2002-03, as the Hawks finished 60th in the nation in field goal percentage (42.1).
Additionally, several Hawks were honored for outstanding seasons in 2010-11, headlined by sophomore Ashley Prim becoming the first SJU player to be named Atlantic 10 Sixth Player of the Year. Baker became just the second Hawk to be named to the A-10 All-Defensive Team, while freshman Erin Shields became the sixth player Griffin has coached to A-10 All-Rookie Team honors.
Earning a postseason berth for the first time in two years, the Hawks surpassed predictions in 2009-10 as they finished tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 after being picked to finish ninth. After opening the season with a 3-7 mark, Griffin saw her team begin to click at the end of the non-conference schedule as SJU claimed the 19th Annual Hawk Classic title and worked its way to .500 by the second week of the Atlantic 10 slate. Posting a 9-5 mark against conference opponents, Griffin hit two milestones during A-10 play, earning her 150th win at Saint Joseph’s in a victory against Dayton and earning her 200th coaching win against George Washington. The Hawks would go on to earn the program’s seventh WNIT bid, and play the first postseason game at Hagan Arena.
In 2008-09, Griffin undertook arguably her toughest season to date as Saint Joseph’s played every contest away from Hawk Hill for the first time in program history. And in typical SJU fashion, Griffin got her team to respond as Saint Joseph’s went on to post an 8-5 record at home venues and earn its first Big 5 title since 2000-01. Individually five Hawks posted career bests in scoring, with Brittany Ford and Mariame Djouara both earning All-Big 5 Second Team honors. Relying heavily on underclassmen in 2007-08, Griffin guided her Hawks to another winning season, including crowns at the Brown Basketball Classic and the Hilton Philadelphia Hawk Classic. Among the wins, Saint Joseph’s posted its biggest win over a non-conference ranked opponent since the 1984-85, topping #15 Auburn for the Hawk Classic title.
Despite losing several experienced players prior to the 2006-07 season, Griffin had her team peaking at the right time. Playing Griffin’s style of hard-nosed defense and persistent offense, the Hawks advanced to the Atlantic 10 Championship game, including the program’s first win over a top 10 opponent (#8 George Washington) since 1992 along the way. Saint Joseph’s capped the season with its fifth WNIT appearance in six years and tied the SJU record for games played in a season with 33.
Fueled by a collection of newcomers and a developed core of upperclassmen, Griffin led the Hawks back to national prominence in 2005-06. The Crimson and Gray engineered the nation's best turnaround (13 games) and received votes in the national polls for the first time since 2003-04. The Hawks advanced to the semifinals of the A-10 Championship and earned a berth in the WNIT.
With the loss of four 1,000-point scorers, the 2004-05 Hawks showed their true colors down the stretch, earning a hard-fought victory over La Salle in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Championship and coming within 10 points of 16th-ranked, and eventual A-10 Champion, Temple.
Led by six seniors, the 2004 team went 22-11 and advanced to the WNIT?Elite Eight. Saint Joseph’s finished second in the A-10 East and dropped a heartbreaker in the Atlantic 10 Championship to Temple. Four Hawk seniors reached the 1,000-point plateau, marking just the eighth time in NCAA?history that a quartet of players had reached the milestone in the same season. Erin Brady, Irina Krasnoshiok, Stephanie (Graff) McCaffrey and Amra Mehmedic went on to sign professional contracts.
Following a memorable first year at the helm of her alma mater, Griffin upped the ante in her second season by capturing 2003 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Hawks to a 19-11 record. The team sprinted to the conference’s Eastern Division title and earned a berth in the WNIT for the second straight season, despite the departure of SJU’s all-time leading scorer and a non-conference schedule that ranked fourth nationally.
Griffin helped to reinvigorate the SJU program in her first season, leading the squad to a 24-8 record and the second round of the WNIT. She capitalized on the team’s tradition of scrappy play and rugged defense, while releasing the reins and allowing the team to play a more up-tempo style on the offensive end of the floor. The Hawks finished the year among the national leaders in nine different categories and paced the nation in free throw percentage for the second straight year.
Following her playing career, Griffin spent the 1992-93 season as a graduate assistant at her alma mater. She then accepted an assistant’s spot at Vanderbilt University from 1993-95 under former Saint Joseph’s head coach Jim Foster. Foster recruited Griffin to SJU and coached her during her playing career on Hawk Hill.
In her two years as an assistant at Vanderbilt, the Commodores finished 53-15 overall, won the 1995 SEC championship and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 both seasons. In addition to coaching responsibilities, she was the co-director of the Vanderbilt Basketball Camp and the director of the Black & Gold Club.
Griffin left Vanderbilt after the 1995 season to become an assistant coach at Loyola Maryland. She spent three seasons as an assistant under Patty Coyle before being promoted to associate head coach in 1998. Griffin was promoted to the position of head women’s basketball coach at Loyola Maryland midway through the 1998-99 season. She was the seventh-youngest head coach in Division I at the time. Griffin – who was named head coach five games into the season as Coyle left for an assistant coach position with the WNBA’s New York Liberty – kept the Greyhounds’ momentum going as Loyola Maryland won a team-record 21 games that year. Overall she compiled a record of 48-33 during her tenure at the Baltimore school, guiding the squad to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinals all three years.
One of the top playmakers in Saint Joseph’s history, Griffin starred for the Hawks from 1987-88 through 1991-92 (missing the 1988-89 season due to injury). A three-time team captain, Griffin finished her career with 662 points, 278 rebounds, 510 assists and 197 steals. She currently ranks fourth on SJU’s all-time assist list. As a junior in 1990-91, she played in 1,178 out of a possible 1,200 minutes to set the school record for minutes played in a single season. The Hawks made three NCAA Tournament appearances and posted three straight 20-win seasons during her playing career. A two-time Second Team All-Big 5 choice, as well as a Third Team All-Atlantic 10 pick as a senior, she was inducted into the Saint Joseph’s Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. A native of Maple Glen, Pa., Griffin played her high school basketball for Bishop McDevitt, winning two Philadelphia Catholic League titles. A 1987 graduate of McDevitt, she was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, and in 2002, received the Philadelphia Catholic League’s alumni achievement award. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Saint Joseph’s in 1991 and completed her M.B.A. from SJU in 1993. She resides in Conshohocken, Pa., with her husband, Curtis, and children, Kaylie, Hannah and Curtis, Jr.
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