Marquette hires Duke assistant Wojciechowski as basketball coach

Marquette found its replacement for Buzz Williams in Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching tree.

The Golden Eagles introduced Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski as their next men’s basketball coach Tuesday, with Krzyzewski’s long-time right-hand man saying he wants to follow his mentor’s lead while bringing his new program to similar heights.

Krzyzewski “allowed me to understand just how fun and incredible the game of basketball is, but when used the right way, how it can change your life,” Wojciechowski said during his introductory news conference in Milwaukee. “I hope to do that here at Marquette.”

University President-Elect Michael Lovell called Wojciechowski, 37, “a winner on the court” who “has all the values that we expect at Marquette University.”

He replaces Williams, who left for Virginia Tech last month after leading Marquette to a 139-69 record and five NCAA tournament appearances in six seasons. The Golden Eagles missed the tournament this year.

Wojciechowski is the second Krzyzewski assistant in two years to land a head coaching job at a program in a major conference. Chris Collins just finished his first season at Northwestern.

“I wasn’t going to leave (Duke) for just any job,” Wojciechowski said. “I was only going to leave for a job that I thought is the perfect job for me, and I feel like Marquette is that place.”

Interim Marquette athletic director Bill Cords said Wojciechowski was the only finalist who wasn’t already a head coach, but said he came highly recommended by Krzyzewski and by Jerry Colangelo, the former owner of the Phoenix Suns and director of USA Basketball. Wojciechowski assisted Krzyzewski with the U.S. national team from 2006-12.

Wojciechowski described the 24 hours leading up to his introduction as “a whirlwind” but called it “the most proud day in my basketball life.”

The Golden Eagles, picked to win the reconfigured Big East this season, finished sixth in the 10-team league with a 17-15 record and had their eight-year run of NCAA tournament appearances snapped.

They’re hoping Wojciechowski can get them back there.

He was a star guard for Krzyzewski’s Duke teams from 1994-98 who was known for slapping the floor when the Blue Devils needed a big defensive stop.

“I love the game of basketball, and I think it should be played a certain way, and the No. 1 way it should be played is, hard, all the time,” he said.

Wojciechowski has been on Duke’s staff since 1999, was promoted to associate head coach in 2008 and has worked primarily with the post players during his 15 seasons on the staff.

Though Wojciechowski has never been a head coach at any level, Krzyzewski has long said he considers him a head coach. When the Hall of Fame coach felt dizzy and light-headed during in a loss at Wake Forest last month, Wojciechowski filled in for him at his postgame news conference.

“Steve gave his heart and soul to me, our program, our community and Duke for 20 years,” Krzyzewski said. “He was a vital part of the successes 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 was selected as the national defensive player of the year in 1998 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. During the final three years of his playing career at Duke, the Blue Devils were 74-26.

It’s been a big past few weeks for those in Krzyzewski’s coaching tree: Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins reached the NCAA tournament for the first time as a head coach — and took the Cardinal to the round of 16 — while Tommy Amaker’s Harvard team upset Cincinnati in its tournament opener.

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