Marquette hires Duke assistant Wojciechowski as head coach
MILWAUKEE — Steve Wojciechowski still has the hard hat his father wore to work every day as a longshoreman in his house.
It serves as a reminder to him of the work ethic instilled in him from a young age, that same work ethic that has now resulted in him becoming the head men’s basketball coach at Marquette University.
"He showed up to work every day, and that’s what I’m going to do, and that’s what I’m going to expect the people around me to do," Wojciechowski said.
"Ultimately, simple things that are tried and true over the test of time, and that’s you show up to work every day, you do your job, you do it to the best of your ability, and see where the chips fall."
The longtime Duke assistant coach was introduced as the 17th head coach in Marquette history during a press conference at the Al McGuire Center on Tuesday.
Wojciechowski has spent the last 15 years as an assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and was promoted to associate head coach in 2008. The Blue Devils won national championships in 2001 and 2010, played in the Final Four three times and have won nine ACC tournament championships and five regular season conference championships with Wojciechowski on staff.
He also won gold medals as an assistant to Krzyzewski at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London. Wojciechowski is slated to serve as an assistant coach for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Marquette interim athletic director Bill Cords revealed Wojciechowski was the only assistant coach considered by Marquette, as the other candidates were all current head coaches.
"In the very beginning we had our eyes on Steve because of what he represented, where he came from, and where we thought he could take our program," Cords said.
Krzyzewski and USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo both gave high recommendations of Wojciechowski to Cords during the process, but the Golden Eagles still needed to lure the 37-year-old away from Duke.
Wojciechowski has had many offers to leave but said he only was close to taking a head coaching job once before.
"I wasn’t going to leave for just any job," Wojciechowski said. "I was only going to leave for the job that I thought is the perfect job for me, and I feel like Marquette is that place. That’s why I’m so excited about it.
"We’re going to be leaving a place that we love. But at the end of the day, we kept coming back to it just felt right. I’m a guy who has always tried to do things with my heart, for better or worse. It’s usually worked out for the better, and it just feels right."
One of the reasons Wojciechowski felt this was the right opportunity for him was, like Duke, Marquette is driven by its basketball program.
"There’s not a lot of those schools out there," Wojciechowski said. "You know, if you think around the country where you look at a school and say, you know what? When you talk about the fabric of that university, the basketball program is a huge part of it. When you look at Marquette, you can say that. To me, that was incredibly attractive."
Working primarily with Duke’s big men, Wojciechowski has aided the development of NBA players Shelden Williams, Shavlik Randolph, Kyle Singler, Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Miles Plumlee. He worked closely with expected NBA Draft picks Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood this past season.
His association with Krzyzewski began as a player, as Wojciechowski was Duke’s point guard for four seasons and still is ranked in the top 10 all-time in assists and steals at the school. Wojciechowski was a captain on the 1997-98 Duke team that went 32-4 and made the Elite Eight. He was named the National Defensive Player of the Year following his senior year in 1998.
"Steve gave his heart and soul to me, our program, our community and Duke for 20 years," Krzyzewski said in a statement. "He was a vital part of the success we have had. 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 went undrafted following his collegiate playing career and played professionally in Poland for one season before coming back to Duke in 1999 as an intern in the Duke Management Company and served as a sideline analyst for the team’s radio broadcasts.
Many in the world of college basketball took to Twitter to congratulate Wojciechowski after the news broke Tuesday morning, especially those with connections to the Duke program.
Former Duke star, assistant coach and current Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins tweeted: "Congrats to @steve_wojo on getting the job at Marquette-great hire!"
Northwestern coach Chris Collins, who served as an assistant coach at Duke with Wojciechowski for 12 years, also took to Twitter to share his thoughts.
"So happy for @steve_wojo as he takes over at Marquette!! They got themselves a great coach and even better person to lead their program!!"
Marquette’s search to find a new head coach took 11 days, as Williams officially left for Virginia Tech on March 21. The school has now hired an assistant coach the last five times it has needed a head coach, dating back to when Kevin O’Neill was hired from Arizona in 1989.
Wojciechowski first met his current players Tuesday afternoon and plans to reach out to recruits and signees as soon as possible.
"I want our guys and our players to try to win every day," Wojciechowski said. "I want to win every day, and I want to win every day as basketball players. I want to win every day as students, and I want to win every day, most importantly, as people. I think we can all get behind that.
"I could not be more excited to get that journey started, to get moving forward, to working with these guys and start winning every day."
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