Photo courtesy of Seton Hall University Athletics.
By David Cordova.
This is Part 5 of a six-part series on the Seton Hall men’s basketball program, as it goes through the month of December. Part 5 is talking about the Pirates’ new addition to the coaching staff, Duane “40” Woodward, who has plenty of knowledge about the Big East.
The Big East Conference is a league where many historical moments have taken place. Every year, a chapter is written and a legacy is made. And then there are those that have partaken in plenty of moments. However, to come back and coach in the conference two decades after their last game is an even amazing and special feeling,
That is the feeling for Duane “40” Woodward, who graduated from Boston College twenty years ago. In the present day, his alma mater has transitioned into playing into the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). He is now on the sidelines for another Big East program, Seton Hall.
When asked how he felt about coming back to the Big East as a coach, he replied, “It’s big-time, I feel like I’m home. I played four years there at Boston College, I love the conference. It’s a gritty, tough league, it’s something I kind of grew up on playing in New York City. I think that kind of prepared me, playing in the city every single summer, every single day coming up, so I’m really, really excited.”
Woodward, a native of Queens, was one of New York City’s most talented prospects when he was in high school. At Cardozo High School, where he played for Ron Naclerio, Woodward averaged 21.2 points and 8.2 rebounds as a junior and then as a senior averaged 27.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists.
Woodward was a part of two different classes in 1994. He was a part of a great high school senior class in New York City that included Felipe Lopez, Kareem Reid, Zendon Hamilton and his high school teammate, Rafer Alston. The other class was a group of the Big East incoming freshmen, which included Lopez (St. John’s), Allen Iverson (Georgetown) and Chris Herren (Boston College).
In the fall of 1993, as a high school senior at Cardozo, Woodward signed his letter of intent to play at Boston College. While with the Eagles, he led them to two NCAA Tournament appearances and a Big East Tournament title in 1997. As a junior that season, he averaged 10.7 points and 3.9 assists per game and then as a senior, he averaged 15.6 points, 5.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
When asked about how the Big East was back when he played, he replied, “I call it the real Big East, because now, they got so many different teams from when I played, but it was just so many more, it was a lot more rivalries. But I love the conference, it’s a big-time conference.”
After college, he spent a period of 13 yeas playing professional basketball in the CBA and leagues in countries such as Argentina, France and Italy. Then, after his playing days ended, he got the urge to coach. He first started out with the New York Panthers, an organization he played in as a youth, and then it led to a college job with SUNY Maritime, a Division III college in The Bronx, New York. Then he would go on to coach at Queens College, a Division II school. And then he became the video coordinator at Fordham University for a season.
In 2014, he got the assistant position at Monmouth University, a post he would serve for four seasons. In his time with the Hawks, they were one of the best teams in the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) for a period of two seasons, in which they went 55-15, made it to the NIT twice and collected upset wins of high-major programs such as UCLA, USC, Georgetown, Rutgers, Notre Dame and Memphis.
When asked about his time at Monmouth, Woodward replied, “The time there, I learned so much. I was young in the business. Coach [King] Rice prepared me every single day I was there, helped me get to the level I was at now, gave me so many responsibilities, gave me a longer leash as well. So I was able to learn a lot of stuff on my own, but he also guided me in the process as well.”
This past summer, with long-time assistant and alum Shaheen Holloway making the move to be the head coach at St. Peter’s, Woodward accepted the assistant coach’s job at Seton Hall.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, the excitement around the program is big-time. Not just in Jersey, New York City, but in the tri-state area, I think nationally, a lot of people know about us, because it’s Seton Hall University. I’ve known Coach [Kevin] Willard for a long time, I’ve always admired him. He’s a really good guy, he loves the kids, he loves to get the kids better prepared on the court and off the court. Once I got a call to get an interview, it was something I couldn’t, I couldn’t pass up,” he said.
Woodward, who has been known to be a strong presence in recruiting circles in the tri-state area, is now able to recruit more higher-profile players to the school, due to the fact that the Pirates play in a major venue such as the Prudential Center in downtown Newark.
When asked what his recruiting prowess meant to Seton Hall, he said, “Obviously, where I was at the last four years at a mid-major program at Monmouth and stepping up to Seton Hall in the Big East, which is a higher level, I still feel like I’ve always stayed grounded, I’ve always kept my ears to the streets, in some regards. so I think I’m really familiar with this level of kids, and I think I have really good relationships in New York and New Jersey.”
Woodward also gets a chance to work with two special players in junior guard Myles Powell and freshman Anthony Nelson. When asked about the two, he replied, “It’s been big-time. He [Nelson] is a big-time talent, obviously coming into the Big East is not easy for a freshman. But Myles Powell has been a really big leader for us, he’s a guy who leads by example, he’s the first guy in every single drill, he goes hard in everything he does. He leads all of the young guys really well.”
Now that he is back in the Big East, Woodward can be expected at most of the big-time high school games in the area, recruiting the most elite prospects in the hopes of securing their commitments to the Pirates. Just two decades ago, he was taking the conference by storm as a player. Now, he plans to do it as an assistant coach.
“Just looking to continue helping this program get to where we want to be and helping the guys that we have here become better players and better men,” he said.
The sixth and final installment of this six-part series will talk about one of the incoming recruits who will join the Pirates in the summer of 2019. His name is Dashawn Davis and he is a native of New York City. He will bring plenty of spectacular guard play to Seton Hall. Part 6 will be released on Sunday, December 23rd.