Raffi Karibian, a 1991 graduate of Granite City High School, has been hired as the new boys basketball coach at the school.
Karibian, 42, was among five candidates, all of them within Granite City School District 9, who interviewed for the position. He replaces Steve Roustio, who resigned in March after eight seasons. Karibian interviewed for the job when Roustio was hired.
“I didn’t get the position in ’08. Obviously, they hired Coach Roustio and he did an excellent job,” Karibian said. “He had a real good year last year. Kind of out of nowhere, he decided to resign. ... The opportunity came open and I decided to go for it once again. This time, fortunately, they decided I was the right man for the job.
“I’ll have a lot of energy and put my all into it. Hopefully, we’ll have some success.”
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Karibian understands it won’t be an overnight process.
“It’s going to take time,” he said. “You have to build from the ground up. We need to get the youth playing basketball again in Granite City. We need to formulate some (youth-league) teams, like every other school has, then slowly make the change. Get kids to commit and buy in and work hard, then go from there.”
Karibian, a physical education teacher at Granite City, was 55-60 in four seasons as the Warriors’ girls head basketball coach from 2010-14. His first team finished 20-11.
Karibian also was an assistant coach on the boys level for two seasons under John Van Buskirk and for eight seasons under Carl Luehmann. Karibian has been coaching in the boys tennis program since 1997 and has been the head coach for the last 11 years.
He’s very level-headed. He doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. He’s got the personality to be a head coach here. It’s not an easy thing to do. We just think he’s well-prepared from what he’s done in the past. It’s his time.
Granite City Athletics Director John Moad on Raffi Karibian
“He’s been around us for a long time and he’s going to do a great job,” Granite City Athletics Director John Moad. “His experience in basketball is good, there’s no question. He has experience as a head coach in our girls (basketball) program and in our tennis program. There’s a lot of qualities to like about him.
“And he works here. That’s always a plus to have your head coach in the building. He’ll represent us well and we’re excited about him. He has a relationship with a lot of our kids already. He knows who they are. He’s not going into it blind. He’s going to fit right in.”
Karibian also coached eighth-grade girls basketball at Grigsby Middle School in Granite City from 2006-08, and was a graduate assistant coach with the women’s basketball program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2009-10 as he worked on his master’s degree.
Demands of SWC
No one needs to tell Karibian about the rigors of the Southwestern Conference and competing against the likes of Edwardsville, Belleville East, Belleville West, Collinsville, Alton, East St. Louis and O’Fallon.
“I don’t think it’s impossible, but I’m realistic,” Karibian said. “I realize with the schedule we play and the teams we play in the Southwestern Conference, it’s going to take time. First and foremost, we want to develop good student-athletes. We want our kids to play hard and do well in school. We want them to give their all both in the classroom and on the court. Whatever happens, happens from there.
“Every head coach wants to win. But we’re not going to sacrifice anything in the classroom or our integrity outside of it to do that.”
Granite City was 14-15 overall and 6-8 in the SWC in Roustio’s final season. Among the returning players for the Warriors will be Torrey Deal, Nick Grote, Malique Mason and Roustio’s sons, Jake and Jamie.
Jake Roustio is the top returning scorer at 6.1 points per game.
Karibian met with his returning players Thursday.
“We’re just going to try to improve every day and hopefully be competitive night in and night out,” Karibian said. “If we’re competitive and play hard, I’ll be happy with that. Hopefully, we can get a few wins here and there in the conference, win some nonconference games and some tournament games and have a decent overall record.”
Moad appreciates the work Steve Roustio turned in and believes Karibian will extend it.
“Steve did a good job. We’ve taken a lot of positive steps in the last eight years,” Moad said. “Hopefully, Raffi will build on that and continue moving forward. That’s our hope. I think better days for Granite City basketball are ahead.”
Moad said what stood out the most about Karibian during the interview process, in addition to his coaching experience, was his personality.
Steve (Roustio) did a good job. We’ve taken a lot of positive steps in the last eight years. Hopefully, Raffi (Karibian) will build on that and continue moving forward. That’s our hope. I think better days for Granite City basketball are ahead.
John Moad on the coaching transition from Steve Roustio to Raffi Karibian
“His whole demeanor,” Moad said. “He’s very level-headed. He doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. He’s got the personality to be a head coach here. It’s not an easy thing to do. We just think he’s well-prepared from what he’s done in the past. It’s his time. As an ambassador of Granite City athletics, it doesn’t get much better than him.”
Karibian said he has mellowed a bit through the years.
“I’ve learned that temperament as a coach,” he said. “When I first started as a young assistant coach, I got real excited and got up and down and got on the officials, things of that nature. As time went by, I realized that’s not who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. I wanted to be more even-keel.
“You have to set a positive example for your players on the court. I don’t accept my kids misbehaving on the court and getting technical fouls. On the other hand, I shouldn’t be doing that myself. You have to lead by example.”