Wojo and Buzz: More alike or different?

MILWAUKEE – When new men's basketball coach Steve Wojciechowski took the podium Tuesday afternoon for his introductory press conference, he was greeted with uproarious applause. "Thank you very much," he said. "I am both honored and humbled to be standing before you today."

Honored and humbled. Those two words should sound very familiar to Marquette nation, as they were two of Buzz Williams' favorites.

From the get-go, Wojo's word choice, demeanor and overall affect were reminiscent of Buzz's. The former Duke assistant got choked up while talking about his wife and kids, reflected on his humble beginnings and stressed how important loyalty is to him. All three of those things were commonplace in Buzz Williams press conferences.

Furthermore, both coaches shared a few similarities in their approaches to the game. Junior guard Todd Mayo remarked that Wojo's daily expectation of excellence reminded him of Williams.

"The thing I see that they probably have in common is working every day," Mayo said. "I feel like, as far as working and being a gym rat, I think that they'll have the same personality."

However, while they seem similar in some ways, they could not be more different in others. For instance, Buzz was notorious for being exceedingly eccentric. There were stories of him planning his daily itinerary so precisely that he would schedule meals and trips to the bathroom down to the minute. And then there was his fascination with statistics.

Every coach has stats he tracks to get a feel for his team's efficiency, but Buzz lived and breathed those numbers. Take for instance, this quote from Buzz's post game press conference after the Golden Eagles defeated Xavier at home in February.

"The numbers that we talked about leading up to this that I emphasized with our team (were) 46 paint touches, 12 offensive rebounds, 24 free throw makes and 18 assists."

It is not just the fact that Williams made all these goals in all of these statistical categories that is out of the ordinary, but also the exact numbers. Marquette needed 46 paint touches – not 45, not 50, 46.

During Wojciechowski's introductory press conference, the new coach was asked how much he values advanced statistics when making a game plan. Ironically, the question was posed by Mark Strotman, one of the founders of PaintTouches.com. Wojo said he was happy to play the numbers game when necessary, but he didn't sound like he put as much stock in statistics as the previous coach.

"I think analytics is a very important piece to the puzzle," he said. "I don't think it's the end-all be-all. I think it's another resource that you should use and if it can give you that extra edge to win, then great. But I'm not going to base my decisions solely on analytics."

At the end of the day, the only thing Wojo really needs to have in common with Buzz is early success. Williams won 69.3 percent of his games in his first five seasons as head coach, reaching the NCAA tournament every year. If Wojo can mirror that kind of success, then distinguish himself from his predecessor in his sixth year, Marquette fans will likely be honored and humbled to have Wojo as their team's coach.

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