The opportunities to be a college head coach had been there before for longtime Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski.
“Finding a school that matches who I am as a person and the vision I have for the program is really important,” Wojciechowski said a couple of years ago. “But I want to be a head coach and run my own program and do the things that happened to me at Duke. I want to do that for other kids”.
Wojciechowski hopes to have found that match at Marquette. The 37-year-old Wojciechowski, who grew up in Severna Park and played at Cardinal Gibbons, was introduced as the head coach of the Golden Eagles Tuesday at a press conference in Milwaukee.
“I wasn't going to leave [Duke] for just any job,” Wojciechowski said Tuesday. “I was only going to leave for a job that I thought is the perfect job for me, and I feel like Marquette is that place.”
Wojciechowski replaces Buzz Williams, who left to become the head coach at Virginia Tech. The Golden Eagles missed the NCAA tournament for the first time this season after making it five straight years under Williams.
Calling his first head coaching job the “most proud day of my basketball life,” Wojciechowski credited his former coach and longtime mentor for preparing him.
Wojciechowski said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski “allowed me to understand just how fun and incredible the game of basketball is, but when used the right way, how it can change your life. I hope to do that here at Marquette”
“Steve gave his heart and soul to me, our program, our community and Duke for 20 years. He was a vital part of the successes we have had,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He made me better every day and I know that he will make Marquette and the Milwaukee community better every day. He is a very special coach and person.”
Wojciechowski spent most of the past two decades at Duke, starting as a player in 1994 and returning there shortly after graduating.
The former point guard, known mostly as a tenacious defender as a player and for developing big men as an assistant coach, is the latest Krzyzewski protégé to become a head coach, following Chris Collins (Northwestern) Johnny Dawkins (Stanford), Tommy Amaker (now at Harvard after stints at Michigan and Seton Hall) and Mike Brey (Notre Dame after starting at Delaware).
“I love the game of basketball, and I think it should be played a certain way, and the No. 1 way it should be played is, hard, all the time,” Wojciechowski said.
Jerry Wainwright, the only assistant who remained at Marquette after Williams left for Blacksburg, said Wojciechowski’s fiery personality is similar to Williams’. Wainwright has known Wojciechowski since he attended Five-Star basketball camps in high school, and Wainwright tried unsuccessfully to recruit him to Wake Forest.
“Certainly, when you have spent your entire basketball life at one place, he has one persona,” said Wainwright, who has been a head coach at North Carolina-Wilmington and DePaul. “You’ll never be able to separate Duke from Steve, nor should you. But ultimately, I think what he’ll be able to accomplish here will brand him as a coach for what he did at Marquette.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun