The Marquette Golden Eagles are seeking a new head men's basketball coach following Buzz Williams' departure to Virginia Tech on Friday.
Updates from Monday, March 31
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com has the latest on Marquette's interest in Steve Wojciechowski:
Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski formally interviewed with Marquette officials early Monday about replacing Buzz Williams as the school's men's basketball coach, industry sources told CBSSports.com on Monday afternoon.
Parrish later reported that Cuonzo Martin had made his decision on if he wanted to take the job:
As I reported earlier, Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin has removed his name from consideration at Marquette. Story: http://t.co/PUROxCbfJ5— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) April 1, 2014
Updates from Sunday, March 30
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the latest on Marquette's head coaching search:
Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski has emerged as a target for Marquette University in its searching for a basketball coach, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Marquette made an initial push for VCU's Shaka Smart, but Wojciechowski has joined Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin as one of the preferred choices to take over the Big East conference program, sources said.
Late Sunday night ESPN's Andy Katz reported that Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin had met with the school:
Marquette officials met Sunday with Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin and there is significant interest from the Golden Eagles in hiring Martin away from the Vols, multiple sources told ESPN.com.
Sources told ESPN.com that discussions are underway between the two parties, but Tennessee still has an opportunity to keep Martin.
Updates from Saturday, March 29
ESPN's Jeff Goodman has the latest on Marquette's search and its newest target:
Sources told ESPN.com that [Tennessee head coach Cuonzo] Martin and former UCLA coach Ben Howland are two top-tier candidates to replace Buzz Williams, who left for Virginia Tech last week. Sources told ESPN.com that Howland is extremely interested in the job while it's unclear whether Martin would seriously entertain discussions from Marquette.
Updates from Thursday, March 27
Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports provides a quote from AD Bill Cords, who spoke about the head coaching search:
Cords "The criteria is we are going to get the best possible coach we can find" #mubb— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) March 27, 2014
CSB Sports' Gary Parish reiterates that Marquette's next head coach will not be VCU's Shaka Smart:
VCU's Shaka Smart will not, despite recent speculation, be the next head coach of Marquette, a source has told @CBSSports. Story coming ...— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 27, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, March 26
Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports provides an update on Marquette's upcoming press conference:
Marquette has a press conference tomorrow to provide an update on the head coaching search. NOT to announce a new hire.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 26, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, March 25
ESPN's Adam Finkelstein provides a synopsis of Shaka Smart discussing his coaching future:
Shaka Smart spoke to VCU commits & their coaches yesterday & assured them he isn't going anywhere— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) March 25, 2014
Updates from Monday, March 24
Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reports another high-profile coach receiving interest from Marquette:
Marquette and Wake Forest have both reached out and expressed interest to VCU coach Shaka Smart, multiple sources told ESPN. ...
... One issue that could hinder Marquette's chances to land Smart is the fact that the Golden Eagles have both an interim president and athletic director.
Jerry Meyer of 247Sports.com had more on Smart and Marquette:
Hearing from multiple sources that Shaka Smart to Marquette is after all very likely to happen and happen soon.— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) March 24, 2014
Updates from Sunday, March 23
ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman has an update on Ben Howland's interest in the Golden Eagles job:
Marquette has contacted former UCLA coach Ben Howland about replacing Buzz Williams, but the school has yet to offer him the job, sources confirmed to ESPN.com.
Multiple sources close to Howland told ESPN that he is "extremely interested" in the Marquette opening.
While the search for Williams' successor is still in its infancy stages, one notable name has already emerged in ex-UCLA coach Ben Howland, according to CBS Sports' Gary Parrish:
Sources have told @CBSSports that former UCLA coach Ben Howland is expected to be involved at Marquette.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 21, 2014
Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel reported Friday that Williams is signing a seven-year contract with Virginia Tech to try to bring the Hokies out of the ACC cellar:
Buzz Williams will leave Marquette to become the next coach at Virginia Tech, Y!Sports source.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) March 21, 2014
Marquette released a statement regarding Williams' departure, and the excerpt below focuses on its effort to find his replacement:
[Williams'] commitment to player development and the creation of Buzz’s Bunch, which provides children with medical needs positivity and support, were the hallmarks of his success off the court.
The university has already begun a search for a new head coach, and we are confident that we will attract top-tier talent. Marquette’s elite basketball program is built on a proud tradition of excellence and we look forward to continuing to build on that legacy.
Whoever takes over for Williams in Milwaukee will have quite a pedigree to live up to. Williams took over in 2008 when Tom Crean left for the head job at Indiana, and he made the NCAA tournament every season with the exception of 2013-14.
In that span, the Golden Eagles advanced to at least the Round of 32 in all but one appearance, peaking with an Elite Eight berth in 2013.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman cited some of the reasons Williams left despite a strong track record before posting a 17-15 record this season:
Buzz Williams left Marquette for a variety of reasons, sources told ESPN. One of the biggest was new league/new TV package.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 21, 2014
With all of that established, Marquette must find a high-profile coach to replace Williams and continue the building tradition of strong recruiting and overall success for Golden Eagles basketball. That's why Howland makes a lot of sense as a prospective candidate.
Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel feels Howland makes sense for Marquette:
Allow me to throw a Marquette name out there. How about Ben Howland? They have money and need a splash.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) March 21, 2014
Goodman offered some names in addition to Howland—Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins and Wisconsin-Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle:
Names to keep an eye on for Marquette: Ben Howland, Mike Hopkins, Brian Wardle.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 21, 2014
Anyone with any coaching chops who's learned under Jim Boeheim is a worthy candidate for a high-profile job, and Goodman seems to think that Hopkins is a logical fit. Considering Hopkins has been with the Orange since 1996, it's not a stretch to say that he's due for a head coaching gig soon.
Wardle has the in-state connection and wouldn't have to move far, if at all, and if the Golden Eagles like what they see, he could be an easy solution to their vacancy—and one within close proximity. The Phoenix won the Horizon League regular-season title but fell in the conference tournament and got bounced by Belmont in the first round of the NIT.
Part of what makes Marquette an attractive job is not only its recent excellence, but also a strong incoming recruiting class, as CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello points out:
Just FYI: Marquette has three top-100 recruits among its five-man incoming recruiting class: Ahmed Hill, Sandy Cohen, Malek Harris.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 21, 2014
The trick to retaining such a coveted crop of freshmen will be landing a respected coaching authority, and the Golden Eagles administration seems fully capable of that based on their two most recent hires.
This past year was no doubt a rebuilding effort for the program. The results on the court weren't pretty, yet as long as a strong coach enters the fold, there should be little uncertainty as to the upward trend of Marquette basketball. Plenty of quality candidates should be linked to the Golden Eagles, and it's still too early to even speculate as to who might land the job.
What is certain is that Marquette has had an excellent plan to emerge as a legitimate power in the Big East, thanks to the enthusiasm and passion Crean and Williams brought to recruiting and developing players. A similar leader will be necessary for the Golden Eagles to bounce back next season and contend for a Big East title.