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'A challenging opportunity': New Badgers women's basketball hire Marisa Moseley embraces rebuilding process
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'A challenging opportunity': New Badgers women's basketball hire Marisa Moseley embraces rebuilding process

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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.

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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.”


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