"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Forgotten Assistant? Let's Talk Wojo

When I wrote about current assistant coaches as candidates for Marquette, I didn't include Steve Wojciechowski for a reason. After playing at Duke for 4 years, Wojo played one year professionally in Poland before returning to Durham, where he has spent 15 years on the bench, the last 6 as Coach K's associate head coach. While other Duke assistants have moved on, Wojo has seemingly been groomed to simply move up a chair when Coach K steps down.

After today's announcement that Steve Wojciechowski would take over as the 17th Head Coach of the Marquette Men's Basketball team, I decided I should correct the error of leaving him off the list. I felt when I wrote that he was arguably the best assistant in the country, but unattainable. Clearly, the latter part of that wasn't the case. So here goes:

Offense Average: 6
Defense Average: 62
Top-25 Classes: 9/12
NCAA Wins: 34
Final Fours: 3

Steve Wojciechowski: The former McDonald's All-American played for 4 years under Coach K and after one year in Poland, returned to the Duke bench as an assistant. He has been there since he was 22 years old and in his 15 years has seen the Blue Devils cut down the nets at the Final Four twice. Despite playing point guard for Duke, Wojo was their big man coach for years, helping instruct the likes of Shane Battier, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, and numerous other NBA players. The past 3 years Wojo transitioned to instructing the guards, so he has experience instructing at all positions, with guys like Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, and Rodney Hood benefiting from his tutelage. Wojo also has 2 Gold Medals as an assistant to Coach K on the USA Olympic teams. He's a proven recruiter and likely already has a relationship with some of Marquette's higher profile targets like Diamond Stone and Ahmed Hill. While many will say Duke recruits itself, no school competing for recruits against Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas could really say the job is easy.

One more note on Marquette's new head coach. I've already heard some grumbling that he will be another guy looking to move on as soon as possible and will simply angle to get the Duke job when Coach K retires in a few years. While that's entirely possible, if Duke did pluck Wojo back from Marquette, it would undoubtedly be a sign that he had a lot of success in his time here. In addition, he will be competing with guys like Johnny Dawkins, Mike Brey, Tommy Amaker, and Chris Collins, all also former Duke assistants that would likely return to Durham if give the chance, so Wojo is hardly a shoo-in for that role, especially considering other high-profile coaches like Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart could try to get the gig as well. Finally, Wojo has shown a ton of loyalty by staying at Coach K's side as long as he has. It seems that he knows a good thing when he has it. If Marquette treats him well and he returns the favor with a successful program, he could be here for a long time.


Vino said...

Marquette made the right choice, maybe not the most popular choice, but the right choice. He's still relatively young for a first time head coach, energetic with a great lineage, has had all the best b-ball exposures possible, so there shouldn't be anything that surprises WOJO, and he comes from a program that plays the kind of defense and offense that MU will need to play to compete not only in the Big East, but to compete for four and five star recruits...the MOJO is back at MU with WOJO!

Oliver said...

I also like it. After Smart, he was a good choice. I liked Buzz and I see him in a similar light. Young, energetic, and smart. His history of developing NBA players adds to his recruiting appeal.