The landscape of college basketball changes at a rapid pace. Coaches often move to take other jobs, players transfer -- or quit -- because their roles change, athletic directors fire coaches because they're not winning at a high-enough level. It is the landscape of college athletics, which plays out most publicly in basketball.
When a player chooses to tough out a lesser role instead of transferring, many times it goes unnoticed, undiscussed or under-appreciated, often times because it is of no consequence to the team. But for Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski on Saturday, he took an extended amount of time to make sure a player who falls into that category received recognition, fighting back tears streaming down his face as he praised senior Matt Heldt.
"What Matt Heldt did today was one of the more beautiful things I've seen happen," he said. "Coming into today, he was on scout team. You're talking about a guy that started 60 games in his career, his role isn't the same that it's been the last few years, and he's been a really good player for us. One of the things I asked my team in the locker room was, 'If you were Matt Heldt, could you have the same attitude that he's had for our team this year?'
"He is, in terms of selflessness, pure heart, as good as it gets. We don't win without him."
Heldt is playing only 7.0 minutes, averaging 1.0 point per game as a senior for Marquette this season, down considerably from 21.9 and 3.9 as a junior, respectably. Those dropoffs would lead many to seek a new situation -- and no one would fault him if he did -- but for him to stay has been a boost of depth that paid off Saturday as the Golden Eagles took down Xavier 87-82, as he played 20 minutes and grabbed three rebounds, blocked one shot, made one assist and grabbed one steal.
"The attitude he has displayed is Hall of Fame level," Wojciechowski said.