Before watching college football on TV Saturday, Rashard Griffith spent time breaking down Middleton girls basketball game action from last season.
Griffith, the former University of Wisconsin men’s basketball standout, plans to study plenty more Cardinals’ games after being named the Middleton girls basketball coach Friday.
“I’m very excited,” Griffith, 47, said. “It’s a new chapter in my life. It gives me the opportunity to use the things I’ve learned from coaching.”
Rashard Griffith averaged 13.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks a game in 1993-94, his freshman season at UW.
Middleton athletic director Jamie Sims said Griffith’s selection was finalized Friday.
Griffith replaces Jeff Kind, a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach who retired last month after 30 years of coaching at Middleton. Griffith started working for Middleton’s campus support staff last year, Sims said.
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“Having known him for a couple years and knowing his skill set — and he’s a great human being — I’m super excited to have him join our athletic staff,” Sims said.
Sims is eager to see how Griffith will elevate Middleton’s program.
“He’s following in the footsteps of the great Jeff Kind, so it won’t happen overnight,” Sims said. “It will take time in relationship building. I am more than thrilled to have him join our staff at Middleton.”
The 6-foot-11 Griffith, a Chicago native, played at UW from 1993-95 and became an all-Big Ten Conference performer.
From left, Howard Moore, Michael Finley and Rashard Griffith were all a part of the Badgers’ 1993-94 team that earned the program’s first NCAA…
Michael Finley, Tracy Webster and Griffith, during his freshman season, helped lead the Badgers to the NCAA Tournament in 1994 — UW’s first NCAA appearance since 1947. Griffith was drafted in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1995, but did not sign with the team and wound up playing overseas for 15 years, including in Turkey, Italy, Israel, Spain and Romania.
Griffith hasn’t been a head coach for a high school team, Sims said.
Griffith said he’s coached AAU teams and players in Chicago and overseas. He also served as a mentor to UW men’s basketball players, notably big men in Badgers coach Greg Gard’s program. He said he’s learned from coaches he’s had in his career and can coach different offensive schemes, including the swing and flex. He instructed boys and girls in basketball, he said.
“Coach Kind was a great coach,” Griffith said. “He was here for 30 years. He’s a Hall of Fame coach. He won a lot of games. He has his way of coaching. I have my way. Greg (Gard) took some things he learned from Bo (Ryan) and made it his program. I’m not coming in trying to reinvent the wheel. I want to keep the tradition going.
He said he wants to see the skills of the Middleton players and plan around that talent, wanting to improve the athletes’ skills. He also wants to build a culture that helps the girls improve as students, players and people.
Griffith said he was extremely interested when Sims approached him about the opening following Kind’s resignation.
“The (candidate) pool was not as big as we anticipated,” Sims said. “Rashard really stood out no matter how many we had.”
As a candidate, Griffith impressed a committee of staff and players, particularly with how he connected with the players, Sims said, adding he liked how “high tempo” Griffith was with the group.
“I was just me,” Griffith said.
Now, he’s excited about the opportunity.
“It’s a blessing and greatly appreciated,” Griffith said.
Kind said in August that his wife, Linda, had a new job in Tomahawk and they decided to relocate to Phillips.
Kind compiled a 634-291 overall record as a varsity girls coach at state schools (including Middleton), the fifth-winningest mark in girls basketball state history, according to WisSports.net records.
Middleton advanced to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament 12 times, all under Kind’s direction.
Middleton finished as runner-up four times — in 1993 (to Janesville Parker), 2003 (Oshkosh West), 2011 (Glendale Nicolet) and 2019 (Bay Port).