Guard Duane Wilson shows promise in Marquette's tough year
MILWAUKEE (AP) Perhaps the most positive outcome that will come out of an otherwise challenging season at Marquette is that there are definitive building blocks for the future.
A touted recruiting class is on the way for next season. Six-foot-11 sophomore center Luke Fischer is shooting 60 percent after becoming eligible in December following a transfer from Indiana. Young guard Duane Wilson figures to only get better under the tutelage of first-year coach Steve Wojciechowski, who once ran the point at Duke.
For now, there's the immediate matter of finishing 2014-15 strong. The regular season ends Saturday when the Golden Eagles (11-18, 3-14 Big East) host DePaul.
''There are years that are harder than others. If you use it the right way and you grow from it the proper way, it can lead to future successes,'' Wojciechowski said. ''That doesn't make the now any easier.''
Especially for seniors like guard Derrick Wilson, who was on Marquette teams that went to the NCAA regional semifinals in 2011-12 and the regional finals the following season.
Now, part of Derrick Wilson's job is to help develop younger players like Duane Wilson, a redshirt freshman who has become one of the top newcomers in the Big East in averaging 12.5 points per game. The players aren't related.
''Trying to teach them how to win, playing hard every possession,'' Derrick Wilson said. ''I mean, we haven't been winning as we wanted to, but you still have to play hard, still have to do everything right.''
It's just the kind of attitude that makes Derrick Wilson a role model, and fits in perfectly with what Wojciechowski wants to do. This is the coach known for hunching over and slapping the floor during his playing days at Duke, a show of emotion that got fans and teammates fired up.
The biggest takeaway from being coached by Wojciechowski is the intensity, Derrick Wilson said.
''Playing hard every possession,'' he said. ''Every coach says that. He shows us how to do it, constantly on us about doing it.''
Part of the learning process for Duane Wilson will be getting more familiarity with running the offense next season, though Wojciechowski isn't just labeling him as a point guard. He likes his ability to score.
He has shown signs of toughness, like when he got up slowly with stoic looks a couple times during a 67-51 loss on Wednesday to St. John's dealing with a right shoulder injury. Duane Wilson finished with eight points, three assists and three steals.
He also missed all six of his 3-point attempts, while Marquette allowed the Red Storm to shoot 12 of 24 from long range against its zone.
It's all part of the on-the-job training. Playing with a short-handed roster often because of mid-year transfers and injuries, the Golden Eagles have given lots of playing time and responsibility to the younger players.
Duane Wilson said he is learning the nuances of when to take the ball to the hoop versus creating for others. He is reminded by Wojciechowski often of the unique situation that he is in as a first-year player of being able to get so many minutes right away.
And of course, the importance of doing the little things like taking charges and diving for loose balls is constantly emphasized.
''He's stressed to us the point about being tough, finishing tough,'' Duane Wilson said.