A look into the rise of Michigan Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Melanie Moore


High expectations are nothing new at the University of Michigan. One of the top academic institutions in the world, high-caliber athletics and a rabid fan base demand similar excellence in competition as it does in the classroom. The result is a culture that values high character and high performance, and one that assistant coach Melanie Moore has helped establish in her time in Ann Arbor.

For Moore, it’s that culture that allows for the expectations and goals the Wolverines set for themselves prior to this season to become a reality.

“We want to win a Big Ten Conference Championship and get to the NCAA Tournament. The players are self-motivated to achieve that,” said Moore. “We’re able to attract some of the most talented players in the country because they can get the best of both worlds – high academics and big-time basketball.”

Building a program with student-athletes who must be the “right fit” is nothing new for Moore, who over the course of her career spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Princeton. There, with similarly high expectations but no scholarships (no programs in the Ivy League award athletic scholarships), Moore was tasked with identifying players with high academic achievements who could also compete on the court.

The result? The Tigers won three consecutive Ivy League Championships, finished twice with an unblemished conference record, and received the highest seed an Ivy League program had earned in the NCAA Tournament (9-seed) at the time. In addition, Moore also had the opportunity to learn from one of the top coaches in the country – Courtney Banghart – not only basketball, but building a program and sustaining excellence within it.

“(Courtney) is a mastermind in our game today, and she is amazing around people,” said Moore. “We grew together as young coaches and put Princeton Women’s Basketball on the map. It was great building something with her for five years.”

When Moore had the opportunity to join Kim Barnes-Arico at Michigan, it was an opportunity to continue to work with and mentor high-achieving and mature student-athletes, only now to do it on the big stage that is the Big Ten Conference. As a staff, the plan was similar to those she helped implement in other coaching stops – build with good people, institute good habits, utilize successful communication techniques, and breed success.

In addition, it gave Moore another opportunity to bring student-athletes to a place she believed in, with a national name and a national reputation.

“The Block M is one of the most recognizable logos in the world, so whether you are in America or overseas, people know that the Block M is powerful,” added Moore. “The players are self-motivated to be the best, not only on the court, but also in the classroom. They strive for excellence, and it has been fun pushing them beyond their limits to greatness.”

With the many requirements of the job, perhaps most impressive is Moore’s ability to wear a different hat at home – that of a mom. She doesn’t shy away from talking about the importance of family.

“I try to live in the moment; if I am at (work), I am busting my butt to help better the Michigan program. I look at my role as being a mother to the 11 players on the team, because it is my job to push them and challenge them in all aspects of life,” said Moore. “ And when I am home, I try to give my husband and kids my full attention for a few hours before recruiting calls. I include them as much as possible so they feel that they are a part of it too.”

It’s clear that Moore has found the balance of basketball and family life, giving 100% of her energy to the two things she loves. That intensity and attention to detail has rubbed off on the Wolverines as well, who at 11-2 overall, open up the 2017-18 Big Ten Conference schedule on Thursday against Penn State.

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