The name Maria Moeller might not ring a bell with many members of Buckeye Nation.
However, the senior has had a great impact on the women’s basketball program and on the young players at Ohio State.
Although she started only in her freshman year and a few games in her sophomore season, Moeller now has the most important role on the team: mentor.
The OSU women’s basketball team is very young; only four seniors are on the roster and not one of them is a starter.
Although Moeller started as a freshman, she was not devastated when her spot was taken by Shavelle Little in her sophomore year. When Samantha Prahalis came to OSU during Moeller’s junior year, she found herself backing up a freshman. Moeller saw no problem with this.
“If someone is going to come in and help your team … you don’t really care if they’re going to start,” Moeller said. “If they’re going to make an impact on your team and make your team better, that’s what you want. That’s the type of player that Sammy [Prahalis] is.”
The team mentality is one of the reasons that Moeller has played nearly every game in her career, even though she rarely starts.
Moeller said that coach Jim Foster trusts her as the leader of the team when he puts her in the game, because she has been in almost every situation, has a good shot and is a hard worker.
Her team mentality has also helped her gain the role of mentor off the court, doing whatever she can to help the team to success.
“You have to get [freshmen] accustomed to college life,” Moeller said. “It’s not all about us playing basketball, it’s also being able to handle your time.”
Even during games, Moeller believes she has a vital role, along with the other seniors, in helping the younger players out. Just because they’re not playing doesn’t mean they can’t help the team. She said the seniors can help because “we have been in those situations before.”
Moeller has taken a particular interest in the same person that she has been backing up the past two seasons, Prahalis. She especially admires her level of improvement between her freshman and sophomore seasons.
“She’s a really hard worker in the gym,” Moeller said. “She knew what she had to do to get better and she just improved on the things that she needed to improve on. She’s shown it on the court. She’s having a great season so far.”
Moeller even went as far as to say that Prahalis has been her favorite player to play with over her whole career because of her competitiveness, work ethic and “her ability to make everyone around her better.”
Moeller could have been a four-year starter at a smaller school and had more of an impact on the court, but she does not regret her decision to come to OSU in any way and embraces her role on the team.
“I’m really happy with my decision of coming to Ohio State,” Moeller said. “If I were to have gone to a smaller school, I wouldn’t have had the experience of winning the Big Ten three years in a row and going into the NCAA Tournament. This is exactly where I want to be and I’m very happy with my choice, and I’ll always be happy with my choice.”