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Jackie MacMullan’s been around enough basketball coaches to hone her instincts about them.

The veteran NBA reporter played Division I basketball at the University of New Hampshire before embarking on a nearly 40-year career covering the pro game and has coauthored books with basketball legends such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Geno Auriemma.

So when MacMullan heaps praise on Marisa Moseley, the new University of Wisconsin women’s basketball coach, her opinion carries weight.

“You mark my words: Within five years, Wisconsin’s going to be in the NCAA Tournament,” MacMullan said on an episode of "The Bill Simmons Podcast" posted Wednesday. “Because that’s how good Marisa Mosely is. I really love her.”

MacMullan — a longtime resident of the Boston area who spent decades working for the Boston Globe — met Moseley through MacMullan’s organization Shooting Touch, which uses basketball as a tool to help minority students in inner-city Boston and Rwanda. Moseley was the coach at her alma mater Boston University before taking the Badgers’ job and joined the board of Shooting Touch with MacMullan.

“She’s … not only such an amazing coach, but one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever been around,” said MacMullan, who now works for ESPN. “She just blew me away with her enthusiasm, her energy, the way she interacted with these young kids. I just thought, like, ‘Wow, she is a star.’”

Moseley, who was hired late last month, takes over a UW program that has posted 10 consecutive losing seasons and has a .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.

Moseley learned under Auriemma as an assistant for nine seasons at Connecticut and sees untapped potential in the Badgers’ program.

“We’ve got to be able to keep the best kids in Wisconsin home and be able to recruit our surrounding areas,” Moseley told the State Journal when she was hired. “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.”


State Journal reporter Jim Polzin contributed to this story.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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