The previous two times Marquette hired a basketball coach, it gambled on longtime assistants with little to no experience as a head coach.
The Golden Eagles are hoping to have success with the same strategy a third time.
Fifteen years after plucking Tom Crean from Tom Izzo's staff at Michigan State and seven years after hiring Buzz Williams after one year into his first head coaching job at New Orleans, Marquette is reportedly taking a chance on longtime Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski. The former Duke point guard has been on Mike Krzyzewski's staff since the 1999-2000 season and was recently promoted to top assistant after Chris Collins left for Northwestern last spring.
Expectations will be high for Wojciechowski because of the resources Marquette devotes to basketball and the success the school enjoyed under Crean and Williams. The Golden Eagles made a Final Four with Crean in 2003 and reached the NCAA tournament five times in six seasons under Williams, reaching the Sweet 16 or beyond from 2011-13.
Wojciechowski was chosen over a slew of candidates with successful track records as head coaches, from former UCLA coach Ben Howland, to Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, to Green Bay's Brian Wardle. Marquette also reportedly initially reached out to VCU's Shaka Smart but he turned down an offer just as he has in the past with UCLA and others.
Why would Marquette go with Wojciechowski over more proven coaches? Well, he has been part of assembling and developing two national championship teams at Duke and he is well-connected as a recruiter, having played a key role in landing coveted players like Chris Duhon, Shelden Williams, Kyle Singler and Josh McRoberts, among others.
The inconsistent track record of Duke assistants surely is a concern for Marquette fans.
Mike Brey has enjoyed success at Notre Dame and Tommy Amaker has revived his career at Harvard after flopping spectacularly at Michigan, but overall Krzyzewski's coaching tree has a surprising number of withered branches. Quin Snyder resigned after a tumultuous, scandal-tainted tenure at Missouri, Jeff Capel struggled post-Blake Griffin at Oklahoma and Johnny Dawkins went six years before finally making his first NCAA tournament at Stanford this March.
Still, Wojciechowski should be judged on his own accord, not on the success or failures of others who followed a similar path.
Marquette has found success gambling on decorated assistant coaches before. Now the Golden Eagles have to hope they've found another gem.
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