It’s been quite a week for Marquette basketball. After beating then-No. 7 Creighton on the road last Saturday, the Golden Eagles knocked off No. 1 Villanova, 74-72, on Tuesday.
Marquette lost at Nova by a dozen on Jan. 7, and Steve Wojciechowski was not happy with his players’ grit and fight that night.
He was Tuesday.
“I wanted to see our guys fight and compete,” the Marquette head coach said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I thought we were really ready to play, but they knocked us back early in the game with their three-quarter court pressure, and obviously we’re starting a 17-year-old point guard (Markus Howard) who should be a high school senior. We didn’t get off to a great start, but our guys were able to hang in. Even when things looked bleak, our guys maintained a certain amount of fight. That’s the thing I was most proud of, the way we competed, the way we hung in, and we just kind of found a way to win.”
Marquette trailed 39-24 at halftime but outscored Villanova 50-33 in the second half.
“We wanted to break it into four-minute wars,” Wojciechowski said. “We felt like we have five four-minute segments and if we could just chip away at the lead – you’re not going to get 15 points against a Villanova team quickly. What we had to do was try to win each four minutes, two to four points, and put us in a position at the end of the game where in the last four minutes it’s a two- or three-possession game. We were able to do that and had huge contributions across the board.”
Especially senior reserve Katin Reinhardt, whose free throws with 11.6 seconds left proved to be the difference. Reinhardt finished with a team-high 19 points off the bench.
Wojciechowski is the latest former Mike Krzyzewski assistant to achieve success at another program. Mike Brey has advanced to the Elite Eight in each of the last two seasons, Chris Collins has Northwestern on the precipice of its first tournament bid in program history, and Tommy Amaker brought Harvard its first tournament win in program history.
Not all of Coach K’s assistants have been successful head coaches, but that narrative seems to be changing, no?
“Narratives and Duke, they are pretty prevalent,” Wojciechowski said. “Guys have coached well that have developed under Coach K for a long time. Narratives always change. At the end of the day, winning takes care of all that stuff, and I don’t pay too much attention to it.”