The rich history of Cardinal McCarrick High School’s boys basketball program was tarnished slightly last winter when the Eagles finished with a losing record for the first time in 19 years.
Before that, McCarrick won 17 or more games for 10 straight seasons, but it posted a 7-19 mark in 2012-2013 causing a reason for change.
In turn, Jason Griffin was approved as the Eagles’ coach last month, succeeding Erick Woriniecki after just one season. Griffin spent last season as McCarrick’s junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant.
Although Griffin now calls Middlesex County home, he’s Union County thorough and through.
The Staten Island resident played at A.L. Johnson High from 1994-1997, and spent the next five years on Rahway’s coaching staff.
“(Former Rahway coach) Tom Lewis is a mentor to me,” Griffin said. “I was a paralegal and Tom brought me in and took me under his wing and showed me how to coach the game.”
Griffin also said he’s worked closely with former St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle, who is well-known around the Garden State.
“I really do look up to Lewis and Boyle,” Griffin said, “and I want to emulate what they were able to do. That’s what I told (Cardinal McCarrick Director of Athletics) Gill (Pritchard). I’m here for the long haul and looking to reestablish this program.”
The Eagles were decimated by the transfers of underclassmen a year ago, but thus far Griffin’s idea of what the roster will look like has remained intact.
“I think a big part of my hiring was the stability I brought with me,” said the new coach. “I have a great relationship with the administration and the players.”
This season, the Eagles retained every underclassmen but one. Included among the returners is 2013 All-Division performer Sky Harris.
As far as a coaching style is concerned, Griffin’s seems pretty straightforward.
“I’m a fundamental guy. I really do stress the fundamentals,” he said. “I believe if you play a flawless game, rebound, get the loose balls and play hard you can win.”