Marquette Wire

Judson brings experience to relatively young coaching staff

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Men's basketball's new special assistant to the head coach Rob Judson (second from left) poses with Marquette study abroad students in China. (Photo courtesy of Rob Judson.)

Men's basketball's new special assistant to the head coach Rob Judson (second from left) poses with Marquette study abroad students in China. (Photo courtesy of Rob Judson.)

Men's basketball's new special assistant to the head coach Rob Judson (second from left) poses with Marquette study abroad students in China. (Photo courtesy of Rob Judson.)

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On one of their last days in China this past August, Kate Harrison and four other students in the College of Engineering visited the Great Wall of China and, like many other students studying abroad, took a picture with a Marquette flag. Unlike others, their time halfway across the globe had an extra Marquette twist.

As the group walked down the wall, they unexpectedly met Rob Judson, Marquette basketball’s special assistant to the head coach. He was finishing a two week camp called AthletesInAction, an organization dedicated to the intersection of sports and Christianity.

“We visited the Great Wall, and of course wore our Marquette gear, and I brought my Marquette flag to take some pictures for the college and for (the Study Abroad Office),” Harrison said in a Facebook message. “We were shocked that, halfway around the world, we would meet someone who not only knew what Marquette was, but happened to be the new assistant basketball coach for the team.”

“One of the other coaches was talking to some other people and said, ‘Coach Judson, come over here,” Judson said. “I came over there, and there were four of the students from Marquette, so we took a picture … The destiny of being halfway across the world and seeing four other people that were from Marquette was pretty cool.”

That’s how Judson’s time as the newest member of Steve Wojciechowski’s staff symbolically started: halfway around the world. He would then officially begin his tenure at Marquette a few days later.

Judson grew up during McGuire’s prime at Marquette. McGuire’s national title in 1977 was during Judson’s sophomore year at the University of Illinois.

“The tradition, the success, the uniforms, the players,” Judson said. “It was just a great moment feeling, the responsibility of being part of an outstanding tradition and basketball power.”

Before Marquette, Judson worked under former Marquette head coach Tom Crean at Indiana, first as director of player operations and then as assistant coach When Indiana fired Crean in March, Judson was out of work as well. At the same time, Wojciechowski needed another staff member after the departures of director of player personnel Travis Diener to Italy and director of basketball operations Justin Gainey to Santa Clara.

Judson, a coach with more than three decades of coaching experience, is a luxury for a staff without someone older than 41. Associate head coach Brett Nelson was only in second grade when Judson had his first Division I coaching job. “I wanted to add a voice of somebody that’s been in the business a long time,” Wojciechowski said.

“Rob has been a head coach and has worked for some great ones,” Wojciechowski said. “As you go around, check out the background on guys and talk to people. I did not hear one bad word about him from anyone he’s worked with or anybody who’s worked with him.”

It was not hard for Judson to see the coaching similarities between his previous and current bosses.

“Coach Crean is very intense. He’s very competitive, and coach Wojciechowski is the same way,” Judson said. “So, its been a great transition for me to be able to work with coach Wojciechowski and to see how he teaches the players, how he instructs and how he pushes forward his ‘win every day’ mentality.”

Like Diener and the rest of staff, Judson played college basketball. In his senior year with the Fighting Illini, he put up shooting numbers that rivaled those of current sharpshooters Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey: 50 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from the free throw line.

But Judson isn’t expecting to appear in any of Wojo’s signature noon games against the younger guys any time soon.

“Those guys have a lot more quickness than I have left,” Judson said. “But the staff works at staying fit, and that’s one of the things I try to do as well. So it’s been really nice to be able to work out with the other coaches.”

While Judson won’t be logging any minutes in noon ball, Wojciechowski views the addition as a personnel victory.

“It’s been a real win for our program,” Wojciechowski said. “We miss Travis (Diener) no doubt, but Rob (Judson) in his own ways has been very valuable.”

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