Coaching had yet to become an avenue Marisa Moseley wished to travel in her life during her final two seasons at Boston University. She initially thought she wanted to venture into the realm of sports broadcasting once she received her degree in sociology from in 2004.
Yet, as each day passed during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons former Terriers coach Margaret McKeon saw an individual who had everything one needed to become an elite coach at the collegiate level. The way Moseley, who was a team captain as a junior and senior, would gain the attention of her teammates as they huddled around the cooler during a water break at practice was mesmerizing.
McKeon would communicate her point in a strong manner. But her words did not elicit the response she was hoping for at times until Moseley had her say on the sideline. It was these instances that left McKeon, who coached Moseley for four years and recently completed her second season at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, knowing that one day one of her captains would be a respected member of her profession.
“She would go over and there would be times that she would just get after her teammates,’’ McKeon said. “And they would just really, really respond. So she really would get it. She kind of had a magnetic like type of personality. She’s just kind of magical in the sense of how she communicates and how she gets her point across.’’
Moseley’s skills have sent her career soaring to great heights in the just five years. She spent a year as a production assistant at ESPN before realizing that she missed the team aspect and the camaraderie of basketball. She then set her sights on coaching, landing her first job as an assistant at Denver in 2005.
Moseley, a 27 year old native of Springfield, Mass., would serve two seasons under former coach Pam Tanner. The Pioneers finished 20-11 in her final season in 2006-07, earning their first 20-win season since 2000-01.
She would spend the next two years as an assistant coach under Pam Borton at Minnesota before becoming the newest assistant under Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma at UConn this week.
To the people that have known Moseley for the past several years her ascension is no surprise. In fact, McKeon said in the past she had envisioned her one day coaching for the Huskies.
“I thought (UConn) would be a place where she would fit in and she would have an opportunity, obviously, to learn from the best,’’ McKeon said. “I’m so happy that Geno has given her this opportunity because I think she’s going to be a good one in this business, a great one in time.’’
The opening at UConn was created when Jamelle Elliott, who had been a member of Auriemma’s staff for 12 years, accepted the head coaching position at Cincinnati May 5. Approximately two days later, Auriemma contacted Borton requesting permission to speak with Moseley regarding the vacancy. Permission was granted. Moseley interviewed at UConn May 14 and UConn announced the hiring four days later.
“Obviously, being at the pinnacle of women’s basketball … it’s something that you strive for,’’ Moseley said. “I don’t know that I had the mindset that it was `UConn or bust.’ It was more of I wanted to work hard. And I know I’ve been really fortunate with the opportunities that have been offered to me and afforded to me since I started coaching.’’
Mosley, who served as an instructor at Auriemma’s basketball camp in the past, spent a great deal of time meeting with administration and getting acquainted with those people that she would be in daily contact with during her interview. She also spent quite a bit of time with the coaching staff, toured the facilities and finally had an opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time with Auriemma.
Lastly, Moseley did have the chance to meet with UConn national Player of the Year Maya Moore. The decision to join the coaching staff at UConn might seem like a no-brainer on the surface. But it was not an easy decision for Moseley.
“It was a definitely a difficult decision for me, and one that I actually weighed really heavily because of my career here at Minnesota and the opportunities I’ve had here and my players,’’ Moseley said. “But also at the same time looking at my career and professionally where I was trying to go. And an opportunity like this could afford me those things.’’
Moseley said her first day of work in Storrs will be Friday. She coached the post players and also had a significant role in recruiting and scouting at Minnesota. Her role is expected to remain the same at UConn.
Elliott was also responsible for working with the post players and was regarded as an outstanding recruiter. UConn center Tina Charles, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, was named a State Farm All-American for the first time this season. Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams also earned All-America honors under Elliott’s guidance.
“Obviously, there’s going to be a period of transition because I’m the new kid on the block,’’ Moseley said. “I have to come in and prove that I’m capable of doing the job. But I feel like I’m up for the challenge and I’m excited about the opportunity.’’
Borton said that Mosley truly emerged this season as an up-and-comer in the profession. The Golden Gophers finished 20-12 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.
Red-shirt junior post player Ashley Ellis-Milan was second on the team in scoring (11.9), first in rebounding (7.3) and was named to the All-Big Ten third team. She is the second post player in as many seasons to earn all-conference honors under Moseley. Leslie Knight was named to the All-Big Ten second team in 2007-08.
Moseley also served as the academic liaison at Minnesota, with 11 players being named to the Big Ten Academic Honor Roll.
“I think she just came in and she made the most out of her opportunity at Minnesota,’’ Borton said. “She was tireless. There was nobody that was in the office more than her and I think she just worked extremely hard to get herself to this point right now. But I think we all recognized that she was a superstar in the making and that’s pretty obvious at this point.’’
Moseley was not actively looking for another job. However, when the opportunity to accept a position at UConn presented itself, it was difficult to pass up.
The Huskies completed a 39-0 season with a victory over Louisville in the NCAA tournament final April 7. They have won have won six national championships since 1995 and will be favored to win their seventh next season.
“She was very happy at Minnesota and doing well there and had really made a great contribution to their program,’’ Moseley’s mother Linda Randall said. “And then this opportunity came and I think she was kind of in disbelief at the very, very beginning. But once she came to Connecticut and met with Geno and his staff it was exciting.’’
Not only does this change seem to fit from a professional standpoint, it is brings Moseley back to the East Coast. Randall lives in Springfield. Her father, James, lives in New Haven. They have followed Moseley’s career from afar in recent years. Now they will actually have the chance to regularly attend her games without the prerequisite of boarding an airplane.
“I’m just really, really excited that she’ll be coming back this way both from the family perspective and from the career perspective,’’ Randall said. “It’s going to be great. When she was at BU, it was certainly convenient for us to be able to just shoot down the highway to watch her play. So it’s really wonderful for her to be so close again and for us to be able to be a part of her continuing basketball life and her career.’’
Moseley has just four years of coaching experience on her resume. Keep in mind, though, Shea Ralph had just five when Auriemma hired her to replace Tonya Cardoza last July.
Auriemma had the utmost confidence that Ralph would be a valuable addition to the Huskies. He showed the same confidence in pursuing Moseley within days of Elliott’s departure. Judging by Auriemma’s decision and the confidence shown by McKeon and Borton, Moseley looks to be another winner in a program that has known only winning for many years.
“She’s going to be a superstar in this business,’’ McKeon said. “She has the personality. She has the work ethic. She has the drive. And she’s flexible within the fact that saying, `I don’t know everything. But I can learn and I’m willing to learn.’ It’s all about networking and relationships that you form. And she’s very, very good at that in all walks of life and types of people. That’s why I feel that Marisa is going to be so good in this business.’’