Feb. 22, 2007
By Joe Greenwich
Twenty-five years ago, Saint Joseph's was enjoying a banner season on the basketball court. The Hawks soared to a final overall record of 25-5, matching the second-best campaign in school history. Their first-year head coach, Jim Boyle, was named District III Coach of the Year, and accumulated more wins than any other Hawk coach before or since in his first season. On the bench alongside Boyle were a future Hawk head coach in John Griffin and a future professional assistant coach/front office executive in Brad Greenberg. The roster included such SJU standouts as Tony Costner, Bob Lojewski, and Bryan Warrick. On the silver anniversary of this fantastic season on Hawk Hill, we take a look back at the 1981-82 Saint Joseph's men's basketball team.
Jim Boyle took over in 1981 as the head coach at SJU after Jim Lynam's departure for the NBA. Lynam had led the 1980-81 squad to a 25-8 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks reached the Elite Eight that year, knocking off top-ranked DePaul in the second round. The 1981-82 team had big shoes to fill, but Boyle made it look easy by leading the group to the best record of any first-year head coach in SJU history. He also remains the only Hawk head man to take his team to the NCAA Tournament in his first season at the helm.
Boyle was joined on the bench that season by a pair of assistants who went on to have successful careers both on Hawk Hill and after their time at Saint Joseph's. John Griffin, a 1978 graduate of SJU and former Hawk basketball player, was an assistant with the 1981-82 team before moving on to become the head coach at Siena College the following season. Griffin later returned to SJU, taking over for Boyle and becoming the 13th head coach in Saint Joseph's history, serving in the top spot from 1990-1995. His fellow assistant, Brad Greenberg, served on Boyle's staff until 1984, when he moved on to the NBA, serving as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers and the New York Knicks. He also worked in the front office for the Portland Trail Blazers and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Griffin currently serves as a color commentator for CSTV's broadcasts of college basketball games, while Greenberg is the associate head coach at Virginia Tech.
In its first season together, the coaching staff had its work cut out. The 1980-81 Hawks had reached heights not seen on Hawk Hill since the tenure of Jack Ramsay over 15 years before. The team was not to be deterred, as Boyle's charges put together winning streaks of seven and nine games, and finished the season 10-1 in the East Coast Conference regular season. The team steamrolled through Hofstra, La Salle, and Drexel in the ECC playoffs to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. They were also 3-1 in the Big 5, sharing the City title with Temple. The Hawks saw their season end in the first round of the NCAAs, as they fell to Northeastern in a nail-biter, 63-62.
Despite the disappointing end to their run, the Hawks achieved the highest winning percentage (.833) by a Saint Joseph's squad since Ramsay's 1964-65 team was 26-3 (.897). They also won their second straight ECC championship, as well as the Carrier Classic in Syracuse, NY and the Nike Classic in Santa Barbara, CA. The Hawks ranked 11th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (opponents shot just 42.9% against them) and were 16th in scoring margin, winning by an average of 10.4 points per game. In addition, the team won the 1,000th game in Saint Joseph's history. The team's 65-57 second-round ECC playoff victory over Hofstra at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse made SJU the 26th Division I program in history to reach the 1,000-victory plateau.
The 1981-82 Hawk basketball squad featured a number of SJU greats on the hardwood. Leading scorer Bryan Warrick (14.9 points per game) also led the team with 151 assists on the year. Wrapping up his career with 1,273 points (currently 25th on the SJU all-time list), the senior was drafted 25th overall by the Washington Bullets in the 1982 NBA Draft. Warrick was named to the ECC and Philadelphia Big 5 First Teams, and was an Associated Press and Sporting News honorable mention All-American.
Warrick was joined on draft day by senior teammates Jeffery Clark and Mark Dearborn. Clark, an All-ECC and All-Big 5 First Team selection, was drafted in the fifth round by the Indiana Pacers, coached at the time by former Hawk player and head coach Jack McKinney. Dearborn was selected in the ninth round by Ramsay's Portland Trail Blazers but, due to injury, never joined the team and became a graduate assistant at Saint Joseph's the following season.
Sophomore Tony Costner averaged 14.5 points per game in 1981-82, and graduated in 1984 as the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,729 points (he currently ranks fourth behind Jameer Nelson, Bernard Blunt, and Craig Amos). He joined Clark and Warrick on the All-East Coast Conference First Team and was named to the All-Big 5 Second Team. He was also chosen to be a member of the United States Select Team that won the William Jones Cup Championship in Taiwan. He would later be invited to tryouts for the United States Olympic Team, where he would be one of the final cuts made. Sophomore Lonnie McFarlan was the team's third-leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, and would later go on to join Warrick and Costner on the 1,000-point list (he currently ranks 29th all-time with 1,152 points). Freshman Bob Lojewski (9.4 ppg) was the fourth member for the 1981-82 team to crack the 1,000-point plateau, currently sitting in ninth place with 1,682 points.
The 1981-82 Saint Joseph's University men's basketball team had a lot to live up to, considering the recent success the program had seen. The young men in Crimson and Gray did not disappoint, putting together a campaign that still ranks among the best in SJU history. Under a first year head coach in Jim Boyle and behind the leadership of seniors Bryan Warrick, Jeffery Clark and Mark Dearborn, the Hawks were able to win the East Coast Conference championship in their final season in the conference (Saint Joseph's joined the Atlantic 10 for the 1982-83 season) and return to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. It is an accomplishment Hawk fans can still look back on and smile at, even 25 years later.