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Pitt News looks back on women's basketball predictions - The Pitt News

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Pitt News looks back on women’s basketball predictions

By The Pitt News Staff

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Pitt’s women’s basketball team completed a remarkable season when it advanced to the second round of  the NCAA Tournament before losing to No. 2 seed Tennessee.

Making the tournament was a surprise. Before the season started, voters picked the Panthers to finish last in the ACC after several seasons of minimal conference success. Instead, head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio led the team to a 20-12 finish, including a 9-7 mark in the ACC.

Before the season started, several of The Pitt News staff members made predictions about how the team would perform, as well as selecting a player poised for a breakout season. Below are their reflections on the picks.

Chris Puzia – Sports Editor 

Preseason prediction: 10-19

Breakout pick: Monica Wignot

Clearly, I underestimated the Panthers. But, to be fair, so did pretty much everybody else. Still, when I said Pitt’s goal should be to finish above the bottom three teams in the ACC, I did not account for the incredible coaching skills of McConnell-Serio. She kept her team engaged and competitive in nearly every game this season, and when the team needed wins late in the season, it got them.

It always helps to have one of the greatest players in program history peaking in her senior year on the squad. Point guard Brianna Kiesel did enough to earn her numerous accolades this year, and has averaged more than 18 points per game en route to becoming Pitt’s fifth-highest career scorer.

As my breakout pick, graduate student and former volleyball player Monica Wignot played well and provided crucial depth at the center position all season.

She finished second on the team in scoring, with 10 points per game, and third in rebounding, with 6.4 per game. She also recorded a team-high 83 blocks, making her second in Pitt history in a single season.

Next year, however, Pitt will lose Kiesel and Wignot to graduation. But McConnell-Serio seems to have her team prepared to sustain the losses, between this year’s group of talented freshmen and next year’s highly-touted recruiting class.

Considering the depth of Pitt’s young talent, I would not be surprised to see McConnell-Serio’s group back in the NCAA Tournament conversation for a second year in a row.

 

Dan Sostek – Assistant Sports Editor

Preseason prediction: 11-18

Breakout pick: Yacine Diop

Everyone underestimated this year’s Pitt women’s basketball team. It wasn’t without reason. The team was heading into the year with monumental depth concerns, as the team would be without sophomore center Marvadene “Bubbles” Anderson and junior guard Brittany Gordon for the entire year because of injuries.

Second year head coach McConnell-Serio was going to have to rely on a lineup of star player Kiesel, freshmen Stasha Carey, Yacine Diop and Aysia Bugg, plus ex-volleyball player Wignot. The odds didn’t appear to be in the Panthers’ favor.

But McConnell-Serio had her team constantly overperforming this year. Kiesel took a dynamic leap, transitioning from a good point guard to one of the best in the entire nation. All three freshmen instantly contributed — particularly Carey, who led the team in double-doubles. Wignot didn’t miss a beat, finishing with the second-highest single-season block total in Pitt history.

The bench also saw improvements, with senior Cora McManus and sophomore Fred Potvin each making tremendous strides.

McConnell-Serio is building a potential powerhouse in Pittsburgh. Despite the loss of Kiesel, Wignot and McManus to graduation, the program still has the trio of promising freshmen and an equally strong recruiting class coming in.

This will be the last time in a while that I’ll pick McConnell-Serio’s team to finish with a losing record.

 

Logan Hitchcock -Staff Writer

Prediction: 13-16

Breakout player: Fred Potvin 

Prior to the beginning of the women’s basketball season, I felt confident with my predictions for the team. I expected Potvin to break out and Kiesel to put the team on her back and win them as many games as she could. But I only anticipated that was worth about 13 games. Although I was the most optimistic of the predictors, I was still horribly wrong — in fact, we all were. 

The Panthers, on Kiesel’s back (the one prediction I made correctly), shattered expectations by ending the season with 20 wins, one of them being an NCAA Tournament game. Depth was less of an issue than I had originally anticipated. The freshmen played a lot of minutes, and productively. As a bonus, their lack of experience was never a detriment to the team and rarely showed.

Although Potvin attempted the most 3-point field goals for the team, she didn’t become the breakout player I was anticipating — albeit being a solid contributor off the bench. Potvin was overshadowed by the sensational play by Wignot and the freshmen, but her role is due to expand as a scorer with Pitt losing Kiesel next season.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s to never again underestimate McConnell-Serio. She has the uncanny ability to squeeze every bit of effort out of each of her players and put them in the position to succeed. 

 

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Pitt News looks back on women’s basketball predictions