The University of Wisconsin has a rich history of athletic achievement, and one program that has left an indelible mark over the past five decades is the women’s basketball team. From its humble beginnings in the early 1970s, to its current stature as a competitive force in the Big Ten Conference, the women’s basketball program has embodied the spirit of determination and excellence. The group is celebrating 50 years of this storied program. That makes the 2023-24 campaign a fitting time to reflect on its remarkable journey — including the dedicated coaches who have shaped its legacy and the remarkable players who have left an indelible mark on the sport.
The early years and pioneers
The foundation of the UW women’s basketball team was laid in the early 1970s, with Marilyn Harris serving as the program’s first coach. Despite the challenges faced in those formative years, Harris’s leadership paved the way for the program’s development — setting the stage for subsequent coaches to build upon. Edwina Qualls took the reins in 1976, guiding the team through the transition to the Big Ten Conference in 1982. It was during Qualls’ tenure that the Badgers experienced their first taste of success, culminating in the impressive 19-8 season in 1982-83.
The era of ascendancy
The program continued to thrive under the guidance of head coach Mary Murphy, who not only led the team to its first appearance in the NCAA tournament but also earned recognition as the Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year in 1992. Murphy’s success set the stage for head coach Jane Albright’s nine-year tenure, during which the Badgers made five NCAA tournament appearances and two Women’s National Invitational Tournament appearances. Notably, the team’s victory in the WNIT championship in 2000 under Albright’s leadership remains a highlight of the program’s history.
Women’s Basketball: What to expect from Moseley’s team in 2023-24 campaignThe Wisconsin women’s basketball team opens its 50th season against Milwaukee Nov. 7 at the Kohl Center. Coming into the Read…
Continuing the legacy
Head coach Lisa Stone’s arrival in 2003 marked another significant chapter for the Badgers. Her tenure saw consistent competitiveness and notable achievements, including the team’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament in the 2009-2010 season. Despite facing challenges, Stone’s coaching prowess and commitment to excellence were evident throughout her eight-year stint.
Transition and growth
The program’s evolution continued with head coaches Bobbie Kelsey and Jonathan Tsipis at the helm, both contributing to the team’s development and resilience. Despite the challenges faced during their tenures, their contributions were vital in shaping the program’s identity and fostering a competitive spirit among the players.
Embracing the present and future
Marisa Moseley’s recent appointment as head coach represents a new chapter for the UW women’s basketball team. With a fresh perspective and a commitment to excellence, Moseley aims to build on the program’s rich history and elevate it to new heights. Supported by a dedicated coaching staff and a roster of talented players, the team is poised to continue its legacy of resilience and competitiveness in the seasons to come.
A legacy of excellence
UW’s women’s basketball team has not only achieved success on the court, but has also produced outstanding athletes who have continued to excel in the professional leagues both domestically and internationally. UW Athletic Hall of Fame inductees in Jolene Anderson, Tamara Moore and many others have left an indelible mark on the sport — demonstrating the program’s ability to foster talent and develop well-rounded athletes.
As the university celebrates 50 years of women’s basketball, it honors the dedication and hard work of all those who have contributed to the program’s success. From the early pioneers who laid the groundwork, to the current coaching staff and players, the Badgers women’s basketball team continues to inspire and uplift — leaving an enduring legacy of resilience, sportsmanship and excellence.
The future of UW basketball
Looking ahead, the future of the UW women’s basketball program appears promising and filled with potential for further growth and success. Under the leadership of Moseley, the team is poised to continue its trajectory of excellence, building upon the rich legacy established by previous coaches and players. Moseley’s commitment to fostering a culture of resilience, teamwork and relentless pursuit of excellence bodes well for the program’s continued development.
With a roster of talented players displaying determination and skill, the team is set to carve its path in the competitive landscape of the Big Ten Conference and beyond. The coaching staff, including associate head coach Scott Merritt and assistant coach Kate Barnosky, brings a wealth of experience and expertise, providing invaluable guidance and mentorship to the players.
The program’s focus on holistic development — both on and off the court — underscores its commitment to nurturing not only outstanding athletes, but also future leaders and role models.
As the program continues to attract top-tier talent and foster a supportive and empowering environment, the UW women’s basketball team is poised to make significant strides and leave a lasting mark on the collegiate basketball landscape for years to come.