Marquette players on board with new boss Wojciechowski

Steve Wojciechowski, second from right, greets his players after being named coach of the Marquette University men's basketball program Tuesday.  

Jeffrey Phelps/Jeffrey Phelps/AP

MILWAUKEE — The past 10 days have been interesting for the Marquette men’s basketball players, as the sudden departure of Buzz Williams to Virginia Tech left them in limbo.

A return to normalcy began Tuesday when they learned Steve Wojciechowski was the school’s pick as the next head coach of the Golden Eagles. The nine returning players stood behind their new coach as he was introduced and got a chance to hear him speak for the first time.

"He definitely knows what we are trying to build here," Marquette guard Todd Mayo said. "I think he fits the program to a ‘T’. He knows what we are expecting. We’re trying to get back to what we usually do, and that’s winning and getting back to the NCAA tournament. I feel good about this guy."

Other players offered a similar reaction to the one given by Mayo, as they are excited and ready to get to work.

"It’s been a tough couple of days since coach Williams left, but I think coach ‘Wojo’ is the best fit for Marquette right now," center Luke Fischer said. "I think it’s going to be real exciting to work with him.

"It gives us some stability and a sense of direction again. It’s going to be nice to get back on an official schedule again and get what he wants done."

Williams officially left for Virginia Tech on March 21 and assistant coach Jerry Wainwright has been the only member of the staff still around. Director of sports performance Todd Smith and director of sports medicine Ernest Eugene have directed the players through workouts over the past 10 days.

"I just tried to gather everybody together and continue to work out," Mayo said. "I just wanted to get our minds off of what the media and everybody was saying and just get back to what we usually do.

"(Buzz leaving) hurt, but I have to worry about the younger guys. I’m only going to be here 11 more months. I was just more concerned about the younger guys, the guys that are going to be here two or three more years. I wanted to guide them through this process and keep working."


Players were genuinely surprised when Williams called a team meeting to inform them of his decision, but none have decided to leave the school as of yet. Freshman guard Jajuan Johnson told he is "most likely" going to stay at Marquette.

"I was hurt, because I respected Buzz and he was the first coach to ever offer me a scholarship," Marquette guard Duane Wilson said. "That was one of the main reasons I came here, because he was one of the first coaches to take a chance on me. At the end of the day it is a business. He had to do what is best for his family. He told us he would keep in touch with us. I’ll be one of the players that keeps in touch with him."

Despite his loyalty to Williams, Wilson said it was an easy decision to continue at Marquette. He was forced to redshirt last season due to a fractured leg suffered before the season started and doesn’t want to transfer and sit out again.

He is anxious to get working with Wojciechowski, a former point guard himself.

"He’s been in my position before, playing point guard at a big school," Wilson said. "He’s been an All-American, so he can explain to me different situations and help me a lot."

Sophomore forward Steve Taylor Jr. was back home when the news broke and wasn’t able to make the meeting in which Williams said goodbye to his players.

"I didn’t meet with Buzz, and I haven’t talked to him since," Taylor said. "He hasn’t called me or texted me. I was surprised, but to be honest with you, I was OK with it. I was happy for him and ready for the next coach.

"I’m not surprised he hasn’t contacted me yet. I kind of saw that coming."

Wojciechowski wants to make meeting with the current players on the roster his first priority before moving on to the players signed with the program for next year. It seems as if the current roster is behind him and ready to get going.

"We’re thankful to have someone here that has coached under one of the greats," Mayo said. "Hopefully he can bring something different, something that we’ve been missing to get back to winning and back to the Final Four."

Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter