For just the second time since taking the Marquette men’s basketball job in April of 2014, Steve Wojciechowski has needed to fill a vacant assistant coach position. The first time around, it was Stan Johnson stepping in to replace Mark Phelps, and now it’s Dwayne Killings taking the place of Chris Carrawell, who has joined the Duke staff.
This is Killings’ fourth stop as an assistant at the Division 1 level. He got his start as a full-time assistant under Pat Chambers at Boston University in 2010, and after Chambers took the Penn State job following that season, Killings moved on to Temple. He was an assistant to Fran Dunphy for five seasons before heading a little bit north to join Kevin Ollie’s staff at Connecticut. Killings is, of course, available now because the Huskies relieved Ollie of his duties in March of this season. Killings also has experience in the NBA helping get the Charlotte Hornets franchise off the ground as a video coordinator in 2003 as well as working for the NBA’s G-League for a season and serving as Dunphy’s assistant director of basketball operations at Temple before joining the BU staff.
Killings’ bio from UConn makes reference to his abilities as a recruiter, and his Temple bio digs into that a little more deeply. It’s also worth noting that before joining the Connecticut staff, the teams that he’s been employed by have made the NCAA tournament more often than not, qualifying in five of eight seasons.
I advise you to go read this Q&A with Killings that Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel conducted. It would appear that a certain amount of connective tissue between Dunphy and Wojo’s old boss, Mike Krzyzewski, may have helped pave the way for Killings to end up on the Marquette sideline, as it seems that Killings and his new boss share a lot of the same philosophies on coaching at the collegiate level as a result. It also seems that Killings’ strength as a recruiter comes from building relationships with players, or at the very least, that’s what Killings sees as his strength and/or the most important part of being a basketball coach.
The one thing that jumped out at me from that Q&A is this passage:
And I thought (Dunphy) was such a relentless competitor on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. And I think we can talk about so many things we can do as a team but we have to get them to compete. If we can’t get them to compete then I think that’s where some of your issues can start.
Now, I’m not trying to say that Wojo isn’t instilling a competitive nature in his players. However, on some level, playing good defense in basketball is just trying really goddamned hard. Marquette’s defense has struggled a lot over the past two seasons, and while there’s nothing particular in Killings’ background to suggest he’s a defensive genius/guru that’s going to turn things around, it’s hard to be disappointed with an assistant coach hiring who has the mindset of instilling competitive fire in his charges.