MU finished the season at 13-19 while Villanova [30-2] is still vying for a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Deny Gallagher of our staff is in NYC and will have an article up later today.
An Interview With:
COACH STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: Obviously, we ran into a great team that played -- I don't know if they could play much better. Certainly, I don't think they could shoot much better than they did.
As I said yesterday after the game, I think Villanova is a team that could win a National Championship. I think they have all the ingredients. They play like they did tonight, I don't know how you beat them.
I'm proud of my team. Obviously, we wish we had some more opportunities to celebrate during the year, but I thought my guys fought throughout adverse situations throughout the year. And a lot of that was the result of the senior leadership of Derrick, Juan, and Matt. Those guys were great.
As I told them in the locker room, I appreciate everything they've done for our program in the past and in this past year.
Q. Coach, they hadn't shot threes well the last two nights out of the season. Was there a calculated risk in make them beat you at the three? Or did you feel like the defense wasn't getting there?
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: We wanted to try to limit their threes. I mean, the first four threes they hit were well beyond the NBA line. So you take a little bit of a risk. We had about 14 hours' preparation.
But they were great, and they shot it great. Nothing but great things to say about that.
Q. Coach, how did you feel about the defense today versus Seton Hall yesterday? It seemed like you guys were kind of playing both roles today.
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: With all due respect to Seton Hall, Villanova is a much different offensive team. You're talking about one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. You bring a guy off the bench who can hit 7 out of 10 from the floor, 5 out of 7 from three.
Like I said, they don't have any holes in their game, and they played a great game this afternoon.
Q. Coach, in year one, obviously, your record wasn't what you want it to be, but it seems you've established a culture here going forward. Can you talk about how you can blend that in with some of the talent that you have coming in next year.
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: I thought our guys worked hard. I thought we fought. I mean, we had a chance to win a majority of the games that we were in. Obviously, the record wasn't like we wanted.
I'm proud of a lot of things. We also have a lot of things we need to improve upon. So we'll get to work on that right away.
Q. Derrick, would you like to reflect on your college career? Two coaches. You've been in several NCAA Tournaments. What these past four years have meant to you.
JOSH HART: I enjoyed each year. This past year was one of my favorites. I would say, having Coach Wojo, it was a blessing in disguise. At the beginning, none of us knew exactly what we were getting, but it was one of the best things that happened to me in my career as far as basketball in general. I learned so much from him and the rest of our coaching staff, and it was fun.
I mean, we didn't get the results that we always wanted, but I really enjoyed myself this year and being around our new coaching staff and the players this year.
Q. You had one of the more memorable embraces with Coach K at the end of your career. Take us through that moment with Juan and being on the opposite end of that.
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: Really, with all three of the seniors, I wanted all of them to be recognized by Marquette fans because they contribute a lot. Obviously, Juan and Derrick for four years and then Matt for this past year.
12 months ago, their life -- less than 12 months ago, their life changed a lot. When life throws curveballs at you, you have the choice on how to handle it, and I thought our seniors handled it as well as you possibly can. I hope I always have a senior class like this.
Even though we didn't get as many wins as we would like this year, the wins we do get in the future will be a result of the foundation that they laid.
Q. Coach, as a first-year guy in a league like this one, what was it like going through the grind?
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: I mean, it's an unforgiving league. It's an older league. It's a league that, obviously, there's excellent coaches, tremendous basketball traditions and home courts. It never stops. The waves keep coming. There's not a bad team in our league. There's no gimmes.
So it's a tough league. It's a great league to be a part of. We have a lot of work to do to get where we want to go, but, obviously, our program is honored to be a part of the Big East.
Q. Derrick, by my count, you had 23 assists in 19 hours between yesterday and today. Can you say something about bringing the kids along. Obviously, you've got younger players to get the ball to. Maybe how that translates moving forward.
JOSH HART: Yeah. I mean, they already have the talent. So just getting them the ball and boosting their confidence. What they've done this year will only prepare them better for next year. So get them the ball and putting them in the right position to score. They see that. They learn. We all learn from it. They'll do the same for the next guys coming up, and they'll keep on doing what they've been doing, scoring the ball and playing great.
Q. Coach, you mentioned the challenges you faced this year the first year coaching. How did you personally handle them? I mean this in the nicest way, when's the last time you've been part of a team with a losing record?
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: Yeah, my freshman year. My first year in college basketball. And in hindsight, it was the best thing that ever happened to me as a player.
We have a lot of work to do, but we'll get it done. I don't think it's appropriate initially to talk about the future because I think the seniors are the guys that I want I'm mostly focused on right now, and I appreciate everything that they've done. Derrick, Juan, and Matt have been terrific.
Q. Coach, last night you were able to hit the shots early in the game, and it seemed like in this game, they tried to shut that off. Is that something that you need, as far as your game goes, to be able to hit the shots to get you going?
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: Obviously, our plan was we wanted to get off to a great start. We anticipated them trying to take Matt out of the game. Obviously, Coach Wright is a great coach. A guy who hits eight threes, they're going to try to shut him off.
I thought they knocked us back with their offense more so than their defense. They came out and shot lights out. I thought that actually knocked -- their defense was really good. But I thought their offense really knocked us back.
Q. Coach, you've been an assistant for many years at Duke. You kind of already answered this, what was kind of the biggest takeaway as your first year at the helm of the program?
COACH WOJCIECHOWSKI: We'll look at everything. There's obviously things that are in our control that we can do better, and we'll work like crazy to improve on those things. We also had some injuries, things that were out of our control, that we hopefully won't have to deal with in the future.
So we're always working to get better, and we will. And we will.FastScripts by ASAP Sports