Quote Center: Big East Media Day (Marquette)

New York, NY- Quotes for the Marquette Golden Eagles from Head Coach Steve Wojciechowski at the 2018-19 Big East Media Day at Madison Square Garden. Coach Wojo’s team was placed to finish second in the preseason coaches poll

Do you look at the league as wide open

“Anything can happen on a night to night basis. Villanova is the team that has a strangle hold on the conference recently, so i think the league goes through them. But there has been transition this offseason as far as graduation, guys going to the NBA, since i’ve been in the league. I think that could produce some wide open regular season. Somebody stepping up and winning a championship, or a Big East tournament championship that you may not expect.”

On Coaching Philosophy

“Obviously offensively we have a lot of talented players. I trust my players. we try to put them in position where they play off instincts and play out of concepts on the offensive end, and thats produced really good results mainly because we have really good players and that i believe in them. Defensively, its not like we haven’t tried to coach it. Obviously have to do a better job coaching it, and have to do a better job playing it. And we can talk all we want in the preseason until we actually get on the court, and show that we’ve gotten better in the area. Until then, its just talk.”

How meaningless are the preseason polls?

“Preseason polls are not meaningless. They are exciting for the fans, and exciting for college basketball in general. It gets people talking about the college game and thats a good thing. Expectation in preseason polls never won a game, so you have to balance that with the fact that the most important thing you can do is work on a day-to-day basis to improve and get better in each and everyday.”

How do you feel about the Big 10 saying they’re coming to push the Big East out of the Garden?

“Well, the Big East and the Garden are attached at the hip. If conferences want to play a week early at the Garden, thats awesome, but were locked in here for a while. From the success of our postseason tournament, I think that partnership is one that will last for a long time.”

Envisioning Big East Tournament not being played at Madison Square Garden

“I can’t envision it, and I think when you think of the Big East Tournament, you think of Madison Square Garden. It’s been a wonderful marriage. It’s been a marriage that fans, programs, and the schools in our conference have showed up, and showed up big. I think that will always be the case”

What makes players want to skip college and go to NBA directly, or take different roads to turn pro?

“I think most people marry themselves going thru college as the best bet to the NBA. Until the NBA changes the CBA. I think its really good for kids to have options. Most 17 through 19 year old kids who are elite at a sport have multiple options. That should be the same thing for kids in college basketball.”

Factors of being paid in college as a player

“These are complex issues that well be able to come to a conclusion with, right now. I think college student athletes are treated better than they ever have been. That does not mean that were done with they should get during their college career. Thats above my pay grade. Someone smarter than myself will figure it out.”

Rule in NCAA that you would change to reflect FIBA/NBA

“I love the college game. You are always trying to evolve and get better. We played in the NIT. Many of the rules in the NIT tournament took the shape of FIBA rules. There are some things that i really liked. I really liked the longer three-point line. I don’t think the college game will ever go to porter systems. That doesn’t make sense as an advertisement standpoint. I like the resetting of fouls at 10 minutes. I think thats a good thing and helps the flow of the game. The wider lane, people say it takes post play out. Not a lot of post play going on in college basketball anyway. But to me the two things are the longer three point line and the resetting of the fouls at 10 minutes.”

On Markus Howard

“Markus is one of the top players in the country. Obviously he is an elite level scorer. He’s a kid who has gotten better each year he’s been in college. I expect to see another leap of improvement. The thing i’m most proud about Markus is the quality of kid he is. You talk about culture all the time. Culture is driven by coaches and players. Markus’s character, work ethic, humility that permeate our program.”

On Marquette being elite in Big East

“This conference is full of elites. Night in and night out, you have highly competitive games with talented kids, amazing coaches, and passionate fan bases. On a night to night basis, I’m not sure theres another league in the county that is as competitive because of those reasons.”

On Playing for Coach K and coaching along side the legend

“Coaching will go down as the greatest, or one or even two of the greatest college basketball coaches that has ever lived. He’s impacted my life in incredible ways. I think about the lessons i’ve learned playing for him each and everyday. Theres no way i can repay him for what he’s done for me in my life. And so my job is now to pay forward to the kids i coach.”

On League getting slighted with A.P. rankings (only Villanova selected)

“I don’t know if its getting slighted. Im not sure our league is always at the start of any season as dominated the rankings. What I think is the league this year has gone through undergone more transition in the offseason than since I’ve been in the league. Either it’s through graduating tremendous senior classes, or in Villanova’s case, losing guys to early entry. Most people look at that as a scary proposition. What I think its going to show is the strength of our league. I still think our league will be very good. It’s just going to be new faces that are competing and showing it to the world.”

On Ed Morrow giving your team grit

“Ed’s different that anybody in our program. Certainly the words that come to mind when i think of Ed, are relentless competitor, toughness, physicality, and those are things that at times we didn’t have to the level we needed to in this conference. With him bringing those attributes on a day to day basis. It raises everybody else level. Ed should be a real key cog to our team this year.”

On Markus Howard’s improvement from last season to now

“Markus is a guy who has improved each year that he’s been at Marquette. Obviously he’s a natural born scorer, so you’re always going to want him to put the ball in the basket. We need him to continue to get better at the defensive end, and to improve in that area. And then those nights where you aren’t shooting that well, or the defense is so locked in and keyed in on taking you out of the game, what other ways do you find that you can impact winning. Whether thats through playmaking, whether thats being a diversion on offense that opens up something for somebody else. Those are all areas were going to need him to take a leap in.”

On who other than Chartouny, who do you feel most comfortable with handling the ball other than him and Howard

“Those are our two primary guys. The third guy is Greg Elliott, but he’s going to be out for close to three months. He was playing really well. He was a guy that I would feel more than confident with the ball in his hands. So, if one of those two guys are in foul trouble, or god for bid gets injured, we do have forwards, while they aren’t traditional playmakers, they are great decision makers, Sam, Joey Hauser. They’re not guards by any stretch but that have guards mind.”

Greg Elliott’s timetable for potentially conference play return

“We’re hoping. I hate to make any predictions with that. We have to see where our team is at, and we have to most importantly whats in his best interest because Greg’s [Elliott] going to be a really good player for us, and depending on how quickly or how long the recovery takes, we have to make the decision in his best interest.”

On transfers and newcomers making an impact on defense

“Becoming better defensively is a collective effort and certainly the new guys that we add to our program gives us I think some help in that area, but we collectively have to make our minds up to be better defensively, to take more pride in it, and schematically look at some different things to improve in that area. Certainly things that we’ve addressed and talked about all the time and until you go out there and do it, it’s just talk. But have we gotten better defensively, I like to think so. But were not going to know until we lay someone up against someone else.”

On possible best roster since taking over as Head Coach

“I think certainly on paper, we have that potential. Again, were going to challenge ourselves with an unbelievable non-conference schedule, and then the Big east conference is always very difficult. I like our balance, our depth, our versatility, we have a good mix of experience guys who have delivered at a high level, and newcomers who have added something different to our roster. So we have a chance to be very good, if we can stay healthy, and stay committed to the mission of winning and growing each day, then it can be a very fun year for us.”

On the oddity of the NIT three point line, and what you liked about it

“We shot the three well in NIT, so the group we had last year. i don’t it made as much of a difference. When you’re an elite shooter and we had a few of them on our team last year, that little bit of distance doesn’t make as big of debt where it will affect percentages or guys who can make threes, but are your 30% shooters, or low 40% shooters, I think those percentages are the ones that will take the biggest dip”

Joseph Jarzynka