Marisa Moseley is no stranger to rebuilding projects.
She’s got a major one in front of her after agreeing to be the next University of Wisconsin women’s basketball coach, a hire that was made official Friday evening.
Moseley, 39, spent the past three seasons at Boston University, her alma mater. She led the Terriers to a 45-29 overall record, a turnaround that came on the heels of the program going 26-63 during the three seasons prior to Moseley’s arrival.
Now, she takes over a UW program that has posted 10 consecutive losing seasons and has a dreadful .192 winning percentage in Big Ten Conference play during that stretch. The Badgers are coming off a 5-19 season, their worst record since going 4-24 in 1987-88.
None of this seems to faze Moseley, who is eager to dig in and start building.
“I think that’s my thing now,” she said during a phone interview, stopping to chuckle before turning serious. “I definitely embrace it. You can look it as a challenge or you can look at it as an opportunity, and I choose to look at it as both. I think it’s going to be a challenging opportunity and I think it will be one that we reap the benefits from. At the end of this, it’s going to be so worth it. I truly am confident that we’ll be able to turn it around.”
Shortly after the UW System Board of Regents Executive Committee approved an employment and compensation agreement for Moseley on Friday — terms of that deal were not immediately available — UW athletic director Barry Alvarez referred to her as “a winner” in a news release announcing the hire.
Winning isn’t something UW did much of during the failed tenures of its previous two hires for the job Moseley now holds.
Jonathan Tsipis was fired on March 9 following a 67-42 loss to Illinois in the Big Ten tournament. He went 50-99 overall (.336) and 14-74 in Big Ten play (.189) in five seasons.
His predecessor, Bobbie Kelsey, went 49-100 overall (.329) and 19-65 in conference play (.226) over five seasons.
Moseley took over at Boston University in 2018-19 and went 15-14, earning Patriot League Coach of the Year honors. The Terriers produced their best finish (second place) in conference play the following season and went 12-3 overall in a 2020-21 pandemic-shortened season.
“She’s gone into a situation where things weren’t good and was able to turn it around,” said UW associate athletic director Justin Doherty, who co-led the search with deputy athletic director Chris McIntosh. “Among the many assets she brings to the position is having gone through that experience.”
Moseley mostly has spent her career on the East Coast but was an assistant for two seasons at Minnesota from 2007-09. UW was at least competitive back then, tying for seventh place in the Big Ten and finishing with winning overall records each of those seasons under Lisa Stone.
Some may view UW as a sleeping giant. Moseley certainly does.
“I just think we have some untapped opportunities there,” Moseley said. “We’ve got to be able to keep the best kids in Wisconsin home and be able to recruit our surrounding areas. We’ve got to get the fans back involved and excited about women’s basketball and the way you do that is one, obviously every loves a winner, but more than that is cultivating those relationships. It’s building communities and people buying into your vision.”
One of the first calls Moseley made after being contacted about the UW opening was to Geno Auriemma. Moseley spent nine seasons as an assistant under the legendary UConn coach and wanted to pick the brain of someone she considers a mentor and friend.
When Moseley asked Auriemma his thoughts on the UW job, she said he went down a checklist: great university, great city, great conference, great facilities.
“It checks all the boxes,” Auriemma told her. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Auriemma assured Moseley he’d be successful at UW. Now, how will her teams look?
Moseley said she likes her teams to play “fast-ish,” being opportunistic when they push the ball up the floor while also staying in control. She wants balance rather than having an offense that relies heavily on one or two players.
But Moseley also wants the Badgers to have a strong defensive DNA. That was the side of the ball she excelled at the most while serving as a two-time captain for the Terriers from 2000-2004.
Alvarez called Moseley “bright and engaging” in his statement. Doherty had some other adjectives to describe her personality: engaging, genuine and vibrant.
Moseley offered one more: patient. During one of her interviews with administrators, that was Moseley’s first response when asked to come up with three words to describe what she’d need to be successful at UW.
“I’m going to have patience and our administration and our fans, everyone is going to have patience,” she said. “This is not going to be an overnight success story, but at the same time we are going to have both tangible and intangible progress. You are going to see results because I just really believe that my players — I’ve met them — are excited and they’re hungry and they’re ready to learn and grow. That’s half the battle is just having that mentality.”
Dairyland dance: 20 players and coaches from Wisconsin in the NCAA men's basketball tournament
TREVOR ANDERSON | WISCONSIN
Anderson, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior from Stevens Point, is averaging 3.4 points and 1.3 assists for the Badgers off the bench this season. Named Mr. Basketball and AP Player of the Year as a senior in 2016 after the Panthers repeated as Division 1 champions, Anderson attended UW-Green Bay before transferring to UW, redshirting in 2017-18 and suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2018-19. Ninth-seeded UW opens the tournament 6:10 p.m. Friday against No. 8 North Carolina in the South region.
NATE BUSS | WINTHROP
Buss (above center), a 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior from Verona, has been held scoreless in the brief action he's seen in four games with the Eagles since transferring. No. 12 Winthrop opens the tournament 8:57 p.m. Friday against No. 5 Villanova in the South region.
JONATHAN DAVIS | WISCONSIN
Jonathan Davis, a 6-foot-5, 196-pound freshman from La Crosse, is averaging 7.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in his first season in Madison alongside his twin brother Jordan. Named Mr. Basketball in 2020, Jonathan Davis is Central’s all-time scoring leader with 2,158 points. Ninth-seeded UW opens the tournament 6:10 p.m. Friday against No. 8 North Carolina in the South region.
JORDAN DAVIS | WISCONSIN
Jordan Davis, a 6-foot-4, 196-pound freshman from La Crosse, is averaging 0.5 points in 11 appearances since joining the Badgers with twin brother Jonathan. Ninth-seeded UW opens the tournament 6:10 p.m. Friday against No. 8 North Carolina in the South region.
CARTER GILMORE | WISCONSIN
Gilmore, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound freshman from Hartland Arrowhead, is a preferred walk-on at UW. Named AP first-team All-State and Classic 8 Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 2020, he is Arrowhead's career scoring leader with 1,565 points. Ninth-seeded UW opens the tournament 6:10 p.m. Friday against No. 8 North Carolina in the South region.
JAMES GRAHAM | MARYLAND
Graham (above right), a 6-foot-8, 205-pound freshman who led Glendale Nicolet to a 22-2 record in 2019-20, left Nicolet to enroll mid-year at Maryland on Dec. 27, 2020, and joined the team immediately. He's played in seven games for the Terrapins, averaging 1.4 points and 1.4 rebounds. Tenth-seeded Maryland opens the tournament 6:10 p.m. Saturday against No. 7 Connecticut in the East region.
JOEY HAUSER | MICHIGAN STATE
Joey Hauser, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound junior from Stevens Point, is averaging 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Spartans — highlighted by a 27-point effort against UW on Christmas Day — since transferring from Marquette and sitting out the 2019-20 season. Michigan State opens the tournament 8:57 p.m. Thursday against UCLA in a First Four game, with a matchup against No. 6 BYU on the line in the East region.
SAM HAUSER | VIRGINIA
Sam Hauser, a 6-foot-8, 218-pound senior who played at Stevens Point High School, is averaging 16.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Cavaliers this season after transferring from Marquette and redshirting in 2019-20. Fourth-seeded Virginia opens the tournament 6:15 p.m. Saturday against No. 13 Ohio in the West region.
JORDAN McCABE | WEST VIRGINIA
McCabe, a 6-foot, 188-pound junior who earned Mr. Basketball and AP All-State Player of the Year honors at Kaukauna in 2018, is averaging 2.3 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game this season for the Mountaineers. Third-seeded West Virginia opens the tournament 8:50 p.m. Friday against No. 14 Morehead State in the Midwest region.
JAMARI SIBLEY | GEORGETOWN
Sibley (above left), a 6-foot-8, 200-pound freshman who played high school ball at Glendale Nicolet and then Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, is averaging 1.3 points and 1.0 rebound in 20 appearances for the Hoyas. No. 12 Georgetown opens the tournament 11:15 a.m. Saturday against No. 5 Colorado.
BEN VANDER PLAS | OHIO
Vander Plas, a 6-foot-8, 232-pound senior from Ripon, is averaging 12.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists this season, his second as a starter for the Bobcats. No. 13 Ohio opens the tournament 6:15 p.m. Saturday against No. 4 Virginia.
ALONDES WILLIAMS | OKLAHOMA
Williams, a 6-foot-5, 201-pound senior who played high school ball at Milwaukee Riverside, is averaging 6.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 22 appearances, including 14 starts, for the Sooners this season. Eighth-seeded Oklahoma opens the tournament 6:25 p.m. Saturday against No. 9 Missouri in the West region.
TONY BENNETT | HEAD COACH | VIRGINIA
Tony Bennett, son of former UW coach Dick Bennett, has won three national coach of the year awards while leading Virginia to a 277-96 record over 12 seasons. Fourth-seeded Virginia opens the tournament 6:15 p.m. Saturday against No. 13 Ohio in the West region.
BRADY ELLINGSON | DIRECTOR OF OPS. | DRAKE
Ellingson, a Sussex Hamilton graduate, played three years at the University of Iowa and earned second-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors at Drake in 2018-19 before beginning to serve as a video coordinator for the Bulldogs last season. Drake faces Wichita in a First Four game 5:27 p.m. Thursday for the right to face sixth-seeded USC.
GREG GARD | HEAD COACH | WISCONSIN
Gard, a native of Cobb in southern Wisconsin, has compiled a 118-69 record since taking over as Wisconsin’s head coach in 2015. Ninth-seeded UW opens the tournament 6:10 p.m. Friday against No. 8 North Carolina in the South region.
CLAY MOSER | ASSISTANT | ARKANSAS
Moser, who graduated from UW-La Crosse in 1987, has coached in schools at all levels from the USA to China, including in the NBA with Sacramento, Orlando, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers before being hired by Eric Musselman once again, this time with the Razorbacks. Third-seeded Arkansas opens the tournament 11:45 a.m. Friday against No. 14 Colgate.
NATE OATS | HEAD COACH | ALABAMA
Oats, a Watertown native who played Maranatha Baptist Academy High School from 1993-97, is 40-21 since taking over the Crimson Tide program in March 2019. Second-seeded Alabama opens the tournament 3 p.m. Saturday against No. 15 Iona in the East region.
SHAKA SMART | HEAD COACH | TEXAS
Smart, who grew up in the Madison area and was a three-year starter at Oregon High School, is 109-85 since taking over the Texas program in 2015. Third-seeded Texas opens the tournament 8:50 p.m. Saturday against No. 14 Abilene Christian in the East region.
BRAD SODERBERG | ASSISTANT | VIRGINIA
Soderberg, who grew up in Wausau and attended Stevens Point Pacelli High School, is in his fifth season at Virginia. Starting his college playing career at Ripon College before transferring to UW-Stevens Point and playing under Dick Bennett, Soderberg also joined former NBA star and coach Terry Porter to play in the 1984 NAIA national championship game and coached under Bennett at UW from 1995-2001. Fourth-seeded Virginia opens the tournament 6:15 p.m. Saturday against No. 13 Ohio in the West region.
JULIAN SWARTZ | ASSISTANT | GEORGIA TECH
Swartz (above left), a three-time Associated Press All-State player at Waukesha South and 1999 state player of the year, played on UW's 2000 Final Four team but left the program due to issues connected with obsessive-compulsive disorder and earned his degree from Carroll College in 2005. He has been with Georgia Tech since 2016 and has served as an assistant coach since 2018. Ninth-seeded Georgia Tech opens the tournament 3 p.m. Friday against Loyola Chicago in the Midwest region.