MILWAUKEE — Nearly two months to the day since being introduced as the new coach at Marquette, Steve Wojciechowski has yet to conduct a formal practice or prepare a game plan.
He hasn’t even found a house yet for himself, his wife and their two sons.
That, though, will come in time. For now, Wojciechowski is still getting acclimated to his new job and, more importantly, his new team. NCAA rules allow coaches eight weeks of contact with their players during the summer and Wojciechowski plans to make the most of that time.
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"Our focus this session is developing the individual player,” Wojciechowski said Thursday. ”I’ve always found the best way to develop a relationship with a player is working with him on the court."
Wojciechowski, 37, inherits a team that fell flat last year, its first in the new-look Big East. The preseason favorite to win the league title, the Golden Eagles went 17-15 and did not play in the postseason, snapping an eight-year streak of NCAA tournament appearances. Out went Buzz Williams and in came Wojo, the former star at Duke and a longtime assistant on Mike Krzyzewski’s staff.
Wojciechowski had to re-sell some of his players on Marquette. But Malek Harris, a 6-7 forward out of Chicago, and Ahmed Hill reopened their recruiting after Wojciechowski was hired, with Hill opting to join Williams at Virginia Tech, where he’ll be joined by seven-footer Satchel Pierce, who originally signed with Marquette last November.
Canadian forward Marial Shayok also signed with Marquette but will play instead for Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers.
The losses haven’t discouraged Wojciechowski.
”Losing kids, especially kids who never stepped foot on campus and don’t have a feel for what Marquette is, that’s not unique to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said. ”For me, it was reaching out to them and developing a relationship. I only want guys at Marquette who want to be at Marquette. If I have to twist your arm or promise you stuff to want to put that jersey on, I don’t think that’s the right fit."
He dismissed a column that called Marquette one of the worst jobs in the country.
”I think it’s laughable,” he said. ”Marquette is an incredibly special place. I’m at a university where I can offer kids the best of all worlds. You come to Marquette and you’ll get a degree that means something no matter where you go in the world and a community that supportive of the students here and especially the student-athletes here and you have a chance to play elite-level basketball. When you talk about big-time programs, Marquette fits every criteria."