UMBC’s Griff Aldrich named Longwood men’s basketball head coach

Published 10:35 am Thursday, March 22, 2018

Longwood University Athletics Director Troy Austin announced Thursday morning the appointment of Griff Aldrich as the new Lancers men’s basketball head coach.

Aldrich, a Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) alum, is fresh off serving as the director of recruiting and program development for the men’s basketball team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

A Longwood press release notes that on and off the basketball court, the career of Aldrich has been marked by two constants: a passion for transforming lives, and success at every step.

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Many impressive descriptions and titles populate his history, as the release cites. He was a standout prep and college player, partner in a top-tier international law firm, CFO of an investment company, a high-level Amateur Athletic Union coach who helped develop players including NBA and NFL standouts, and he was a community leader who founded an elite, faith-based basketball program for at-risk youth.

His most recent stop involved him leaving the business world to follow his passion for coaching and helping orchestrate one of the biggest recent turnarounds in Division I basketball, the release states. When Aldrich joined the staff at UMBC in 2016, the program had endured eight straight losing seasons and averaged 24 losses per season. During Aldrich’s two seasons on the bench with Head Coach Ryan Odom, a fellow H-SC alum, the Retrievers enjoyed the best two-year stretch in program history, which included back-to-back 20-win seasons and this year’s America East Conference title.

And that, the release notes, was before the stunning 20-point win over No. 1 overall national seed University of Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that made UMBC a household name across the country.

Now Aldrich is returning home to Virginia, and a community he loves and knows well from his days as a player and assistant coach on a string of dominant teams under Tony Shaver at nearby Hampden-Sydney College, school officials stated.

The release notes that Austin and Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV will formally introduce the Tidewater native in person at an on-campus event in the coming weeks.

“From the start of this process, Griff established himself as a unique candidate who will be an outstanding fit for our community, for our program and for Longwood’s citizen-leadership mission,” Austin said in the release. “President Reveley and I knew entering this search that we needed a coach who placed an emphasis on building a culture of success through selective recruiting, player development and engagement with the community. Griff, with his strong ties to Farmville and the Commonwealth, meets all those criteria, and he has demonstrated his ability to run a program in a very unique, ‘Chief of Staff’-like role at UMBC.

“Honestly, we have been excited about Griff as a candidate from our earliest conversations with him at the beginning of this process,” Austin continued. “It just took a little while to get him to campus after UMBC won the America East and then made NCAA Tournament history. It was a pretty good reason for a short delay, and we’re glad we can now call him a Lancer.”

The release highlighted that as UMBC’s director of recruiting and program development from 2016-18, Aldrich acted as chief of staff for Odom — his college teammate and son of legendary college coach Dave Odom — and was involved in all aspects of UMBC’s turnaround from NCAA cellar-dweller to America East Champion and NCAA Tournament giant-killer.

“I am extremely excited about joining the Longwood basketball program and broader Longwood community,” said Aldrich, a 1996 graduate of H-SC and a 1999 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. “Returning to Farmville is personally significant as it is connected to a tremendous opportunity while allowing me to return to my home state and to a town where I spent my most formative years. My family and I could not be happier about this new chapter, and we are eager to become integrated into the community — both at Longwood and the greater Farmville area.”

Continuing his statement in the release, Aldrich said, “I look forward to getting to work at Longwood and building off the foundation that has been established. Getting to know our existing group of quality young men, as well as building our culture will be two of our top priorities. In addition, we expect to hit the recruiting trail immediately to secure this year’s class and add outstanding young men to our existing program.”

In his two season at UMBC, Aldrich oversaw recruiting and program development efforts that helped bring in a wealth of talent, including AEC Defensive Player of the Year K.J. Maura and AEC All-Rookie Team selections Daniel Aiken and Arkel Lamar, school officials cited. He was involved in all aspects of the program from recruiting and scouting, to quality control and campus and community engagement.

The release notes that UMBC’s remarkable run of success in the 2018 postseason thrust the Retrievers into the national spotlight, earning it an estimated $120 million in equivalent advertising, a spate of national news articles spotlighting the university itself, and a 20-fold increase in Twitter followers.

“Longwood University hit it out of the park with the hiring of Griff Aldrich,” said UMBC Head Coach Ryan Odom, who is 46-24 in two seasons with Aldrich at his side. “Griff was a vital part of our historic run this season at UMBC. Longwood is getting a man of integrity, a tremendous mentor for its players, a sharp basketball mind who is driven and competitive, and a guy who wins in every aspect of life.”

Stay with The Herald for more information on this developing story.