April 24, 2023
Wisconsin hopes encouraging finish in 2022-23 helps program turn the corner
The Badgers won four of their last five to close out the regular season
Wisconsin head coach Marisa Moseley took the Badgers’ job before the 2021-22 season embracing the challenge. The program has not had a winning record since 2010-11 and last reached the NCAA tournament the season prior.
Through her first two seasons in Madison, Moseley has emphasized a holistic approach to coaching her student-athletes. Culture, the all-important buzzword she says, is important of course. But so is cultivating the best from her players both on and off the court.
“One of the coolest things about college athletics is we’re all coming from different walks of life,” Moseley told The Next. “And so how do we make sure that the kids feel really good about not only who they are and how they can be their authentic self, but then how they can learn about others and things that they may not have been exposed to when they were coming up.
“We do a lot of community service because I think that to whom much is given, much is required. This is an unbelievable opportunity to go to school at a place like Wisconsin, get your education paid for, get to play basketball, but we still have a responsibility to our community to give back and in turn, people come and they support us.”
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That grassroots approach, embedding themselves in the Madison community, paired with a strong conclusion to the 2022-23 season that saw the Badgers win four of their last five regular season games has Moseley feeling optimistic about where Wisconsin stands.
“It just felt like our prep, things were coming together,” she said of that last stretch of the season. “It all felt like we started to click on all cylinders. It was disappointing obviously to lose that Purdue game in the Big Ten tournament because we were up by so much, we were playing really great basketball. It’s one of those things where you want to keep that momentum going.”
Still, they’re not quite there yet, and Moseley knows it.
“I took the job because of the challenge,” she said. “I was excited about that opportunity, and I think that we have shown significant improvement, but it’s not anywhere near where I would like it to be, so that just keeps that fire burning.”
2022-23 record: 11-20 (6-12 Big Ten)
Big Ten finish: 10th
Notable wins: vs. Michigan (78-70), at Michigan State (84-80)
Departures: Julie Pospisilova (graduation), Avery LaBarbera (graduation), Sara Stapleton (graduation), Maty Wilke (transferring to Utah), Krystyna Ellew (transferring to UIC), Mary Ferrito (transferring)
Additions: D’Yanis Jimenez (first-year), Leena Patibandla (first-year), Imbie Jones (first-year), Tessa Grady (first-year)
Key returners: Serah Williams, Brooke Schramek
Moseley and the Badgers justifiably felt encouraged by the success they found down the stretch of the season in 2022-23, despite the disappointing loss to Purdue in the Big Ten tournament, a game in which Wisconsin led by 18 in the first half.
But with six players departing the program, including Pospisilova, Wilke and LaBarbera, three of their top four scorers from last season, Moseley will be forced to thrust some less-experienced players into larger roles.
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One area she likely doesn’t have to worry about much, though, is the post, with Williams who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team last season.
In her first year in Madison, she averaged 12.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. If the Badgers take that next step, she’ll almost definitely be a major reason why.
“She just continued to get better throughout the year, and she’s had a really great spring, so (I’m) excited about what the year will look like for her for next year and the subsequent years to come,” Moseley said. “Skilled big kids are really hard to come by if you ask anybody in the country. To be able to find that I think is something that was really special. To have her have the type of year she had just in year one, she has a really high ceiling for sure.”
Additionally, with four first-year players coming in, Moseley hopes they can help diversify the skill sets on the roster.
Jimenez, a point guard from Florida, brings great athleticism and playmaking capabilities; Grady, Moseley said, could potentially be a stretch-four with great shooting ability; Patibandla, a three-sport high school athlete including the high jump, can “jump out of the gym” as Moseley described her; and Jones, a stout rebounder from Seattle, rounds out the group that could all have the chance to be high-impact players with plenty of playing time up for grabs.
And, perhaps, they can help Wisconsin accomplish something it hasn’t in over a decade: a winning season. Among all the other aspirations, Moseley hopes that year three of her coaching tenure proves that things are continuing to head in the right direction.
“I want to be playing our best basketball in February, but I don’t want to wait again until February to start really clicking,” she said. “To me, (if) we get going in the non-conference and really can establish and our kids can win close games that we lost in the past. I think that’ll be great.”
With basketball-hungry Madison behind them and some new faces stepping into the spotlight, Wisconsin could be an under-the-radar team to watch next season in the always-deep Big Ten.
“I think we’ve been able to put some people on notice about how they prepare for us,” Moseley said. “We had five kids in double figures last year. I’ve had several colleagues in the league say that we’re tough to prepare for, especially at the end of the season, they didn’t want to be playing us out of all the teams in the league. I know that we’re doing something right, and we just gotta keep working.”
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Written by Eric Rynston-Lobel
Eric Rynston-Lobel has been a contributor to The Next since August 2022. He covered Northwestern women's basketball extensively in his four years as a student there for WNUR and now works as a sports reporter for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire.
Love what Coach Mo is doing