GOLDEN EAGLE: Wojciechowski brings energy, values to team

Jacob Born

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu
Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu

Coach Steve Wojciechowski came to Marquette at a very turbulent time.

He was hired just a week after Marquette hired Michael Lovell as its new president, and there was no athletic director. “Shaka Watch” was still fresh in everyone’s mind and no one knew where the program was going to go. Then, out of nowhere, came Wojciechowski.

Wojciechowski is now on the cusp of his first season as a head coach. He spent 15 years under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski before coming to Milwaukee, and brought what he learned at Duke to Marquette.

Wojciechowski said he is ready for his first season as a head coach.

“I’m appreciative to have the opportunity to be a head coach at a great program like Marquette,” Wojciechowski said. “I realize I’m in a special place.”

Marquette did not see any student-athletes transfer out of the program, but did lose a majority of its minutes and scoring from graduated seniors. Coming into a program and having to teach an entirely new system is tough, but Wojciechowski knows it will not happen overnight; it is a process.

“We’re going to be very process-orientated with this team,” Wojciechowski said. “Our primary focus has to be getting better every day, and growing as a team and figuring out how you make the people around you better. If we’re able to do that on a day-to-day basis throughout the season, the by-product of that, in my opinion, can be something that’s up to the standards of Marquette.”

Despite experiencing a decent amount of turnover, it has been a smooth transition for Wojciechowski. The entire coaching staff has gotten the players to completely buy into what Wojciechowski is trying to do. He said he wants good players, but even better leaders.

“For us to be really good, we need all of our guys to be leaders and really good teammates,” Wojciechowski said. “That’s what it’s going to take.”

Wojciechowski brings an up-tempo style of play to Marquette, or as sophomore Deonte Burton calls it, a stand-up, aggressive defense. Redshirt freshman Duane Wilson said Wojciechowski and his staff bring a “crazy energy” that is infectious. And everyone on the team knows that Marquette is doing something special.

“For me, the main focus is … trying to help our guys and put our program in the best position on every day to have a chance to win,” Wojciechowski said.

One of the benefits of Wojciechowski’s coaching style is how fluid it is. Players can move around the court and not be limited to one position. Wojciechowski said he is not worried about the positioning of his roster because he knows he has capable athletes.

“In our system, I don’t get too caught up in the numbering system,” Wojciechowski said. “I want basketball players. I want guys who can play multiple positions. I want guys who can do multiple things.”

Not just any player can fit into Wojciechowski’s coaching style, both on and off the court. Wojciechowski does not recruit any kind of player; he looks for three specific qualities: character, talent, and a wish to take advantage of every opportunity Marquette has to offer. His team on the court, and whom he will bring in next year, exemplifies those three qualities.

“I have a six- and a four-year-old, and they’re going to be around my team and my group a lot,” Wojciechowski said. “I want to know when Jack and Charlie are around them, they’re going to be around good people.”

On the court, Wojciechowski teaches his players not just how to be good players, but to take what they learn on the court out of the gym and into the real world. Wojciechowski repeatedly calls Marquette “a special place,” and he makes sure his players remember it as well.

“I really like the guys we have in our program,” Wojciechowski said. “I like them as people, I’ve enjoyed being around them and building a relationship with them.”

Wojciechowski came to Marquette at a turbulent time, when the type of coach would either bring the team back to the top of the Big East, or continue to fall to the bottom of the conference. Wojcechowski and his staff is committed to winning immediately, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t happen this season.

“This is a school that when I came here, I’d admired from a distance for a long time,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s a great school and a great community. The support around this school and community is big time.”