Marisa Moseley is not from Wisconsin.
However, after living in Madison for a year she seems to be adapting to the upper Midwest quickly and how many of us think during winter. “I thought there would be more snow,” Moseley quipped during our 25 minute interview last week.
You would be hard pressed to tell that Moseley, a native of Springfield, Mass. and graduate of Boston University, isn’t from Verona or Green Bay or Stevens Point though with how much she already cares about the state and the University of Wisconsin. She gushed about the city of Madison and how picturesque it is, sitting between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona.
Dear Badger fans,— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) March 7, 2022
Thank you for making memories with us this season❤️
Great things ahead for this team! pic.twitter.com/VwUMIfJ3HW
“The campus itself has a great feel to it,” Moseley said. “I love being able to marry both the basketball and getting a degree [from Wisconsin].”
Having a passion for her new city, state, and team will prove to be important for Moseley as she attempts to rebuild Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball into a contender in the Big Ten conference. UW has never been a top team in the conference, having never finished higher than second and never making it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament in their history.
The “glory days” if there were any were over 20 years ago when Jane Albright made back-to-back NCAA Tournaments after winning the WNIT title in the 1999-2000 season. Wisconsin hasn’t made the postseason, nor had a winning record, since Lisa Stone’s final season at the helm in 2011.
Moseley keeps a picture in her office of a jam-packed Kohl Center taken during the end of Albright’s tenure. She says it serves as motivation and shows what the program is capable of in Madison. If all goes according to Moseley’s plan, it won’t be long before home games for the women’s team are a tough ticket to get. She knows it won’t be easy.
“The Big Ten has had so much success and the competitor in me wants to be in a place like that,” Moseley said. Six conference teams made the NCAA Tournament this year, the seventeenth time in the last 24 years that at least that many have gone dancing. Iowa is a 2-seed, Michigan and Indiana are 3-seeds and preseason conference favorite Maryland is a 4-seed. There is a lot of ground to make up for Wisconsin to get to the top of the Big Ten.
Wisconsin made some tangible progress towards moving up in the conference in Moseley’s first year. UW went 8-21 and 5-13 in Big Ten play. The five conference wins were the most since the 2014-15 season and many of them came over the back half of the season, showing that the team was buying in to what Moseley and her staff was selling.
Made strides this season pic.twitter.com/w3EHm1SVsz— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) March 9, 2022
Moseley said she looks up to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and how he has developed a culture of winning in San Antonio over the years despite roster turnover and free agency and all of the other hurdles you face in the NBA. “I want to have a culture that’s so strong that when players come in, it’s ‘you don’t change us, we change you’ and there is one way we are going to do this, the Wisconsin Way,” Moseley opined when asked about building her culture.
Having grand ideas about the “culture” you are going to install at a new workplace is great...but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t, you know, actually install it. Shortly after Moseley was announced as the new head coach at Wisconsin, her former BU point guard, Katie Nelson, announced that she too would be heading west to join the Badgers.
Nelson arrived in Madison and was able to instantly help her new teammates since she had already been fully immersed in what Moseley was trying to do.
The head coach was quick to heap praise on her floor general. “Katie is a really special kid. She has got the heart of a lion and doesn’t have any quit in her.” While this past season was Nelson’s last one playing, Moseley mentioned that Nelson will be joining her staff as a graduate assistant this coming year.
Nelson is the only player from this year’s team that exhausted her eligibility (note: I asked Moseley about the status of Sydney Hilliard, who took a leave of absence from the team at the beginning of February, and of Lovisa Djurstrom and Alex Luehring, who only played four and seven games respectively last year before disappearing from the team’s roster, and she didn’t have a comment) and since she’ll still be on the sidelines, there will be some nice continuity in year two. Moseley mentioned that she thought Julia Pospisilova “really understood by the end” what Moseley wanted on the court and should be a leader on next year’s team.
Two other players that Moseley mentioned when asked about leadership were Brooke Schramek and redshirt freshman Maty Wilke. It was interesting that she brought up Wilke, who missed her entire freshman season with an injury, but Moseley noted that Wilke had spent the entire year, on the bench, right next to the coaches during games. Moseley called her a “cerebral kid.”
You may remember that Wisconsin lost to Chicago State in overtime at the beginning of the season. It was a shocking loss (Wisconsin was give an 95.9% chance, by far their largest of the year, to win by Her Hoop Stats) but it did not define the season.
If Moseley turns this program around, 2021-22 WBB will be remembered like 1990 football.— Craig Smith (@smithcp1) November 23, 2021
The Badgers ended up winning five Big Ten games, two of them on the road and only one of the where they were favored to win by HHS. What changed between losing to a historically bad Chicago State team and beating Purdue, on the road, to end the season?
“There was much more trust and belief in what we were trying to do. We learned how to prepare much better and I learned the abilities that each kid had more and how I could use them in different ways,” Moseley said.
Moseley has one season in the Big Ten under her belt now. She has one season of installing her system and cultivating her culture. She has one season of positive momentum and she is not wasting any time trying to make it two. Marisa Moseley has big plans for the Badgers and as Barry Alvarez might say, fans “better get season tickets right now, because before long they probably won’t be able to.”