Breitbart Sports Interview: Duke Associate Coach on Coach K, Rodney Hood, Upcoming Season
Death, taxes, and Duke contending for a title. Ever since Mike Krzyzewski took over the basketball program in Durham, the Cameron fans have truly had a lot to go crazy over. This season the expectations are high once again.
"Our goal is to be in the hunt for the national title each year," said Steve Wojciechowski, Duke's associate head coach. "It's a very difficult thing. It's very elusive. Coach K has done it more than any modern coach. He's done it four times and he's been coaching for over 30 years, so it speaks to the difficulty of it. Certainly our goal at the start of every season is to prepare our team to be there at the end and to have a chance to win a national championship."
Wojciechowski was Duke's point guard from 1994-1998. He quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his hard-nosed play and suffocating defense. Now, he brings that same intensity to coaching.
One thing Wojciechowski is particularly fired up about nowadays is the addition of Rodney Hood to the active roster. Hood, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Mississippi State, can start playing for the Blue Devils after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
"I think Rodney will be one of the best players in the United States," Wojciechowski told Breitbart Sports. "He's a co-captain on our team, which speaks to his leadership. I think he's one of the most versatile players, potentially that we've ever had at Duke."
Wojciechowski points to Hood's willingness to do whatever it takes as a major attribute. "He's a guy that can't be defined by one position," he said. "He's multi-faceted. He's skilled in a variety of different ways. He's been a tremendous asset, attitude-wise, to our program, and we're very lucky to have him."
Krzyzewski rarely ever brings in transfers. That alone speaks to the program's confidence in Hood.
Duke will be battling a loaded ACC filled with old foes like North Carolina and new headaches like Syracuse. No matter the opponent though, the Blue Devils expect to be up for the challenge whether it's a conference opponent or not. They're not worried about what other teams are doing, unless they are playing them.
"Our primary focus, at this point, has been on our team and developing our team," Wojciechowski said. "Our philosophy is that if we take care of our own business and then prepare for each and every team that we have to play, we'll be in good shape. We don't pay a ton of attention to the national landscape. First and foremost, we focus on our own team. Secondly, we really dive into preparation of the next team on our schedule. That's really how we approach our program."
Duke lost its top three scorers from a year ago. For most teams that would signal a step back. Thanks to Hood and dynamic freshman Jabari Parker, the Blue Devils plan on improving with a potent offensive attack.
"I think we should be balanced," Wojciechowski said. "We have very good depth. We're going to be able to play a lot of different combinations and I think you'll see over the course of the season, we'll have many different leading scorers."
That said, it's no doubt that Hood and Parker will be a big part of the game plan each and every contest.
"Certainly Rodney and Jabari are guys who are going to be in a position to be centerpieces in the offensive end, but that doesn't always equate to scoring," said Wojciechowski. "That's why I think you'll see a very balanced scoring attack with this year's group."
Don't be surprised if as many as ten ACC teams make the NCAA tournament this season and Duke could very well be the best of the bunch. One thing's for certain if you ask Wojciechowski...it's a great place to call home.
"It has the best coach, arguably, in college basketball history," he said. "It has tremendous tradition of great players who are also great people who have achieved things together that they wouldn't have been able to achieve alone. You walk into Cameron and you see the banners and you see the history and you feel the spirit of the program. It's just different. It's one of those things, at times, that's hard to put into words, but when you're around it you feel it and you want to be a part of it and you want to uphold it."
With the leadership of Krzyzewski, the attitude of coaches like Wojciechowski, and the talent and determination of players like Hood and Parker, Duke has all the components to uphold the program's spirit and then some.
Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @KevinScholla