Wojciechowski beginning rebuilding process at Marquette

Kevin C. Cox

After a 17-15 season, the Golden Eagles have a long way to go to get back to the top of the Big East.

On Sunday March 16, a 17-15 Marquette failed to qualify for both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. However, rock bottom would not hit until that Friday, when Buzz Williams left the team in pieces by jumping to Virginia Tech.

A 10-day coaching search tabbed Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski as Williams' replacement, and while great optimism surrounds the 37-year old first time head man, he undoubtedly has a mountain to climb to get Marquette competitive in 2014-15.

Wojciechowski's first challenge was keeping the current roster together. So far, he has succeeded, as none of the nine remaining players have gone elsewhere. Players like Jajuan Johnson, John Dawson and Steve Taylor, Jr., once believed likely to transfer had Williams stuck around, seem likely to stay with the program for the immediate future.

Rising senior point guard Derrick Wilson reiterated that message at Wojciechowski's introductory press conference, when he told multiple media members he thought the entire team would be sticking together.

The second major challenge for the new coach, retaining Marquette's nationally-ranked 2014 recruiting class, has gone predictably poorly. Of the five players Williams secured commitments from for next season, just one plans to honor that agreement. Wojciechowski did an excellent job securing a recommitment from Green Bay's Sandy Cohen, a 6-foot-6 small forward who ranks 83rd on the ESPN100 for 2014.

The other four, Ahmed Hill, Marial Shayok, Satchel Pierce and Malek Harris won't play for Marquette next season. The first three have been released from their national letters of intent and Harris, who never signed one after being kicked off his high school team in the fall, has officially decommitted.

On Saturday, both Hill and Pierce committed to play for Williams at Virginia Tech following official visits. Hill, who was Marquette's top recruit for 2014, was especially swayed by Williams' hiring of former Marquette top assistant Isaac Chew to the same position with the Hokies.

As it stands, Wojciechowski has 10 players on scholarship for the upcoming season. That leaves him three scholarships to play with, and the question of whether he will fill all three will loom large in the coming months.

Looking at the roster, the Golden Eagles could use some beef upfront. They are deep at the guard spots, with three point guard options in Derrick Wilson, Duane Wilson and Dawson and two solid shooting guards in Todd Mayo and Johnson. Aside from Indiana transfer Luke Fischer, who won't play until Dec. 14 per NCAA rules, Taylor Jr. and maybe Juan Anderson, the four and five spots look extremely thin.

Perhaps Wojciechowski's best option would be to focus his recruiting energy on the 2015 class and attempt to lure some immediate-impact transfers to bolster his front court. Trent Lockett succeeded as a one-year transfer and played a vital role in Marquette's 2012-13 run to the Elite Eight. Some interesting names in that ilk include Michigan transfer Jon Horford (the little brother of NBA star Al), Washington's Desmond Simmons, and Big East transfers like Xavier's Justin Martin and Georgetown's Moses Ayegba. Martin and Ayegba would not likely transfer within the conference, however.

Ultimately, Wojciechowski has a ways to go from a roster construction standpoint, and the coming weeks will reveal just what he has up his sleeve to make Marquette competitive right away.

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