During his 15 years at Duke as Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski’s assistant, Steve Wojciechowski said he had chances to leave to direct his own program.
“I have had other opportunities,” Wojciechowski said. “I may have come close maybe one other time. Why now? Because I think Marquette is the perfect place for me and my family to make this step.
“Duke is where I grew up. I have amazing relationships. Duke is a place that made me better every day. So I just wasn’t going to leave for any job. I was going to leave for the perfect job for me. I feel like Marquette is that place.”
The Golden Eagles felt the same way Tuesday by introducing Wojciechowski as the 17th coach in the school’s 97-year history of men’s basketball.
His name is pronounced wo-ju-HOW-skee, but his new players who heartily endorsed his hiring were already calling him Coach Wojo.
“I couldn’t be happier,” center Luke Fischer said. “I think he’s the perfect fit. Obviously he comes from one of the greatest programs in college basketball and one of the greatest coaches who has ever coached. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Wojciechowski, 37, replaces Buzz Williams, who left March 21 to take the Virginia Tech job. Neither Marquette nor Wojciechowski revealed terms of the contract, but the Golden Eagles were prepared to pay up to $2 million a season for the right coach.
In a search that lasted 11 days, Wojciechowski was hired after Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart rejected Marquette’s offer. The Golden Eagles also considered former UCLA coach Ben Howland and Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin.
Wojciechowski has been with Krzyzewski for 19 years, including four as point guard for the Blue Devils. He was part of two national titles as associate head coach at Duke and assisted Krzyzewski at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
“We were looking for someone who could take us to our vision of getting us to the top,” interim athletic director Bill Cords said. “Steve has been to the top.”
“The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of emotions,” Wojciechowski said. “But I kept coming back to the fact that it just felt right.”
Much to the returning players’ delight, Wojciechowski said he will feature aggressive defense to create offense and an offense that will get up and down the floor.
“That’s how kids want to play,” he said.