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The Giff that keeps on giving: How Bob Knight and Jack Keefer are linked by girls coach Chris Giffin

Keelen Barlow, Managing Editor

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They say the best of things come in threes- The three stooges, three blind mice or even three feet in a yard. In basketball, the three point shot has become the most entertaining aspect of the game at various levels. For girls basketball coach Chris Giffin, his three has had a particularly strong impact on the success of his career. See, he’s a winner, always has been. 125-26, that’s his record as the head coach, and he shows no signs of stopping after posting a 20-win season in 2017-2018. He’s taken teams within a game of playing for a state championship and taken players to Indiana-All star appearances and Big Ten schools. Some say you don’t play to win and instead play for fun, but Chris Giffin coaches to win, and he has fun while doing it.
“I’m a competitor,” Giffin said “I hate losing more than I love winning, and that’s what drives me to succeed.”
Giffin has been around winning his whole life, according to his father Ken.
“He’s had a habit of winning since the age of three” Giffin said.
But how did Chris Giffin turn into such a big winner?
That’s where the number three comes in. In three different basketball programs he studied and learned from three of Indiana basketball’s biggest winners.
As he puts it:
“I’d have to be a real screw up to mess that whole thing up.”

***

 

Girls Basketball Coach Chris Giffin

 

They have over 1800 combined wins between their hall of fame resumés. Three NCAA championships, six IHSAA state championships and one person that links the three of them: Chris Giffin. He took bits and pieces from each one of them along his journey to shape himself into what he is: a winner.
Giffin grew up watching Bob Knight during the heyday of Indiana basketball. He would wake up every game day and put on his Indiana Hoosiers jersey at the age of three. Later on as a student at IU, after an extensive hiring process, he was awarded his first exposure to life on a basketball staff- a student manager. The aspiring coach now had the opportunity to be in and around one of the most storied programs in basketball history.
“It meant the world to me because I was an aspiring coach that loved basketball and the different parts of that the game entails.” Giffin said “To have the opportunity to be around the game and study around who I felt was the greatest teacher of anything that I’ve ever been around was an amazing experience.”
Once Knight was let go at Indiana, Giffin followed him to Texas Tech where he was a graduate assistant with the Red Raiders.
“The biggest thing that I got out of it was how much he loved the game and how much he prepared to win and I think the way that he taught the was just unparalleled.” Giffin said “Consequently you are around that and you get the chance to pick up on things.”

Then there’s Jack Keefer.
He awarded Giffin his first job leading the freshman team- where he won. Then Giffin climbed the ranks to become the JV coach- where he won. Giffin was 83-18 in those positions and lead the freshman team to a county title in 2004. In all, Giffin spent 10 years under Keefer, two of which were as his top assistant.
“The biggest thing that stood out was how much of a student of the game he was.” Jack Keefer said about a younger coach Giffin “He just loves the idea of basketball and he studies it a great deal.”
Though Giffin was cut from the basketball team as a junior, he also attributes time around former Ben Davis coach Steve Witty, who led the Giants to consecutive state titles in 1995 and 1996, as influential to his coaching career.
“Three of the people that I have had the chance to study and be around are all in the hall of fame so I’ve had unbelievable opportunities when it comes to the game of basketball.”
***

Giffin has built himself quite the resume at the helm of the girls program— multiple sectional (three) and regional titles (two), plus a whole gang of other accomplishments. Of course, he won’t take credit for any of it.
“I’ve had great players and assistant coaches that have been focused on the team and have bought into what we have been selling,” Giffin said “You win with people, so I defer all that to those that have surrounded me.”
One of those players, junior Trinity Brady, believes that his undying support for those on the team is what has contributed to his success.
“He just really cares about what is happening to us both on and off the court,” Brady said “Coach Giffin is just a great guy and a great coach.”
Ken Giffin believes his son’s history has contributed to his success
“Obviously, I’m really proud of the record that he has as the LN coach, but I think that he has been really determined to win along the way,” Ken Giffin said. “He was just taught how to truly be winner.”

Along his path, Giffin was waiting for a chance to build his own program, but first he had to learn. While doing so Giffin was studying with some of the best in the business—and boy did he take good notes.

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The Giff that keeps on giving: How Bob Knight and Jack Keefer are linked by girls coach Chris Giffin