Marquette basketball: Golden Eagles hire longtime Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski

You can relax and rejoice, Marquette fans, you have a new head coach (seriously this time).

The university announced Monday that Duke University associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski (we’ll refer to him as “Wojo”) accepted the position to become Marquette’s newest head coach.

Wojo spent  four years as a point guard (1994-1998) and 15 years as an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski; by all means a strong résumé. Many may question the hire of an “unproven” coach…especially when there was speculation that Shaka Smart or Ben Howland would land the job.

Wojo may not be the sexy choice, but it was the smartest choice. Sure, other candidates had more experience, but interim Athletic Director Bill Cords was enticed by the possibilities that Wojo brought to the table. And he should be.

He’s been around one of the greatest coaches of all-time for 19 years, has a high basketball IQ and is enthusiastic about his job.

Wojo played up his high-energy coaching and playing style in his introductory press conference at the Al McGuire Center Monday afternoon.

“The number one way basketball should be played is hard, all the time,” Wojo said.

His strong recruiting skills were highlighted at Duke. Wojo landed the number one 2014-2015 recruit in the nation (Jahill Okafor) and was instrumental in recruiting the nation’s top class next season (at Duke).  His recruiting style is very promising and he should be able to land some big names at Marquette.

steve-wojciechowski

Surrounded by his new team, Steve Wojciechowski speaks about becoming Marquette’s newest head coach.

Many figure Wojo was set to succeed Coach K after he retires, but with Krzyzeksi announcing he’ll be at Duke for at least five more years, he may have gotten tired of waiting and accepted Marquette’s offer to succeed Buzz Williams. Don’t read that as an excuse just to become a head coach, because Wojo said that he considered taking other head coaching jobs, but was waiting for the right opportunity to leave. When Marquette came calling, Wojo saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“Marquette is a place that I’ve admired from a distance for a long time,” Wojo said. “In the last few days, I’ve had a chance to experience it up close and personal. It’s exceeded every expectation.”

Contract details are yet to be released, but it likely was a lucrative contract that lured him from one of the countries top programs.

It will be interesting to see who he chooses to join him as assistants, but he’s got a list in mind. I expect he’ll bring a few colleagues with him from Duke and assemble a solid staff with strong east coast recruiting ties.

“I want guys who will dive into the game of basketball and relationships to help our guys reach their potential, both individually and collectively,” Wojo said. “I want to move quickly, but I need to make sure we have the best staff for our program.”

In my last post, I spoke about how Marquette is a steppingstone job for young coaches looking to build their resumes so they can eventually leave for an elite program. This hire is no exception. I find it hard to believe that Wojo will stay at Marquette whenever Coach K finally calls it quits, but that remains to be seen. One thing that is for sure is that Wojo will be honest and caring to every player on his team.

“I want the players to trust me,” Wojo said. “I think trust is built by telling the truth and doing your best every day.”

Another concern for me is whether or not Wojo can keep Marquette’s incoming recruits on the team. The Golden Eagles have another high-rated class of recruits (Ahmed Hill, Sandy Cohen, etc.) in 2014-2015. I think most of them (recruits) will keep their commitments because of Wojo’s previous success.

As for players currently on the roster transferring, point guard Derrick Wilson doesn’t see it being an issue. According to Wilson, everyone on Marquette’s current roster will return next season. If true, there won’t have to be much rebuilding and Marquette should be a solid contender next season.

At first, I was skeptical about the hire, but the more I learn about the character and coach that Wojo represents, the more intrigued I was.

Wojo sounds truly dedicated to not just the basketball program, but shaping the lives and careers of the student athletes.

After one of the worst March’s in school history, the hire breathes new life into a program that was in complete disarray just one week prior. I’m happy with the hire of Wojo and the future of Marquette basketball, and you should be too.

 

 

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