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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Duffy instills ‘The Marquette Way,’ looks for mantra to personify team

Photo by John Steppe
Megan Duffy (center) leads the huddle in Marquette’s victory over University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Driven. Relentless growth. Sacrifice. Humble beginnings. Unity.

These are the five core values of first-year head coach Megan Duffy’s women’s basketball program, a philosophy she deems “The Marquette Way.”

This mindset is nothing new for Duffy. She implemented a similar mantra at her previous coaching stop, Miami University of Ohio.

“We used some similar themes (at Miami) and have changed a few things here at Marquette,” Duffy said. “It is more so of a buzz phrase of what we are going to live by every day.”

Duffy said rather than memorizing the motto “like it is a mission statement,” she wants the phrases to personify the squad.

“How do you live that out daily? Did we do that in our game last night? Did you do that in the classroom?” Duffy said. “Just trying to keep it simple and see how it relates to every kid.” 



This value came into play after the Nov. 14 Northwestern loss, when the Golden Eagles headed to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Nov. 19. Marquette won its first road game of the season against Phoenix on its home court.

“We always talked about whatever we are doing is to be driven and have that passion. Whether playing defense, executing the game plan, getting extra shots in at the gym,” Duffy said. “Just being really that loving and passionate for whatever you are doing.” 

The team’s focus on “driven” was evident going into a hostile environment and fighting back after a tough loss to Northwestern five days prior. Junior guard Selena Lott, first-year guard Jordan King and senior guard Isabelle Spingola all combined for 11 3-pointers, a season high that Duffy said was the exact game plan.


Relentless Growth. 

Having lost six key players from last year’s team, which made it to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32, the Golden Eagles consist of six first-year players and three players who are seeing far more playing time than in the past.

With that in mind, Duffy said relentless growth has been “really important for our team this year.” She said it’s one of her favorite values.

“I love that word ‘relentless,”  Duffy said. “No matter what happens, you are going to be working to get better and improve.”

That relentless growth came Nov. 14 when the Golden Eagles took on nonconference foe Northwestern. Without Lott, the Golden Eagles had to rely on players like redshirt junior Lauren Van Kleunen and Spingola to lead the way.

Despite the loss of Lott, Duffy’s team held a lead for most of the second half against the Wildcats. Northwestern tied the game at the end of regulation and outscored Marquette 13-5 in overtime, giving the Golden Eagles their first loss of the Duffy era.



“To be really good at this level, this word is used a lot,” Duffy said. “We talk about what little thing you have to do to help improve our team. Do you need to get an extra hour of sleep? Do you have to talk a little bit more on defense, something you might be uncomfortable with?” 

Most students had a break this past weekend for Thanksgiving to see their families and friends, but Duffy’s team had to sacrifice the few days off, traveling to California to play in the Saint Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic. 

“A lot of people go home to see their families, and we have to sacrifice that,” Duffy said. “You know there is a trade-off on going on the road and having that cool experience, and your life is a little bit different than the average student.”


Humble Beginnings. 

Duffy said this has been important everywhere she’s been.

“No matter where I have come from, I have been really big on this one,” Duffy said.

“Just showing that appreciation and saying ‘thank you.’ We are really lucky here to have the resources that we have,” Duffy said. “So just saying ‘thank you’ for how hard (the university and athletic administration) is working to help our team, and to not get too big of a head or ego with all of this is important.”



Duffy said she’s referenced this principle more than she planned to.

“The people on the outside can talk about whatever they want and give their opinions,” Duffy said. “We all know what is being done in the inside.” 

Since Duffy was named the program’s sixth head coach in April 2019, seniors Altia Anderson and Spingola have been on board with instilling this philosophy. Duffy said their support is helpful since she is a first-year coach.

“It is everything when you take over and have your seniors on board,” Duffy said. “Izzy and Altia have been tremendous with the change.”

Duffy said she has not only seen Anderson and Spingola buy into her philosophy and style early in the season, but her entire program — both coaches and players.

Although Duffy said she will be intense during practice, after they end she always tries to ask about her players — how their days are going, how classes and their families are.

“We just try to treat each other right every day. They are getting to know me better each and every day,” Duffy said. “I have tried to prove to them that I care about them and that I am genuine with what my words mean.”

King said she attributes her quick acclimation to college and early success at the point guard position to Duffy’s coaching and personality.

“She is always trying to get the best out of us,” King said. “As a player, you look for a coach that cares and wants you to improve day in and day out.”

The Nov. 25 game against No. 10 Mississippi State at the Al McGuire Center tested the Golden Eagles’ unity. The inexperienced Golden Eagles went toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s best teams despite an eventual loss.

“Where (Mississippi State) was loaded, athletic and all that, we kept talking about, ‘Can we stay together and keep our confidence?’” Duffy said. 

As Mississippi State head coach Vic Schafer put it following that game, the Golden Eagles are doing exactly what Duffy wants them to do.

Duffy said she is focused on building a new winning culture in Milwaukee. For the former WNBA player, there is one main goal of having a philosophy like this. 

“(I) want a program where our program as a whole — players and coaches — feel like they have 12 or 13 sisters on the team and have a support staff that is there for them all,” Duffy said.


This story was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.

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