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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Pitt women’s basketball season recap

Senior+forward+Liatu+King+%282%29+goes+for+a+layup+during+Thursdays+game+against+Duke+in+the+Petersen+Events+Center.
Hannah Levine | Staff Photographer
Senior forward Liatu King (2) goes for a layup during Thursday’s game against Duke in the Petersen Events Center.

Following a disastrous season that ended in the firing of head coach Lance White, the Pitt women’s basketball team looked to turn things around. The change was drastic. Nine players transferred after White was let go, leaving just four players from last season. 

New head coach Tory Verdi had his work cut out for him before the season started, recruiting eight players well after the transfer portal had opened.

His effort, however, was for naught.

The Panthers struggled the entire season. Starting with a loss in their second game to West Virginia, the Panthers couldn’t get anything going. With nonconference losses to Akron, Coppin State, Duquesne and George Mason, their season was doomed from the start.

One bright spot in the team’s performance this year was senior forward Liatu King. Improving greatly on her past seasons, King averaged a double-double every game, with 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Her presence was felt under the basket, as she was consistently able to evade opponents’ best defenders. For her efforts, she was awarded first-team All-ACC and ACC Most Improved Player. 

The good news, however, stopped there. The Panthers’ second-highest scorer was Aislin Malcolm with 9.6 points.

The Panthers finished tied for the worst record in the ACC, winning only two games within the ACC. They failed to win a conference game at home, including a loss to Wake Forest by 15 points.

Averaging just 60.8 points per game, the Panthers had the second-worst scoring offense in the ACC. 

Pitt led the league in one category — one that it isn’t happy about. Pitt averaged a turnover margin of -3.38, more than 1.4 turnovers more than the second team, Clemson.

But in 2023, one gleaming positive was the improved culture. Regardless of the end result, the Panthers played more cohesively. Verdi seems to have largely turned the culture around for the team, and it shows with the unselfish type of play that they implemented. 

However, the issue arises with the talent on the team. While the coaching and culture improved during the first year of Verdi’s tenure, the talent took a major hit. Pitt largely relied on King to score and attempted to supplement it with three-point shooting. They were the worst three-point shooting team in the conference, making just 27.8% of the field. 

What this led to was King doing her best to score, getting tired and not having any support. This formula led to consistent losses and made the on-court product a disappointment. 

Verdi and his staff have a chance to turn everything around in the future. They will have a full transfer portal window and offseason this time around. If they can convince King to stay and use her final year of eligibility with the team, they will have a foundation of scoring and rebounding. 

It is necessary for them to make at least a small jump this coming year, as future tournaments will exclude the bottom three teams due to expansion. Therefore, Pitt must avoid the dreaded No. 15 seed in the tournament that it has been in the past two tournaments.

About the Contributor
Ari Meyer, Staff Writer