Per the Post-Gazette, the Pitt women's basketball 2010 non-conference schedule is out. (Listed below).
And of course, after they slog their way through the likes of Minnesota, Duke, Texas Tech and Duquesne (no longer a gimme game with Suzie McConnell-Serio at the helm), they will have to play teams like UConn, Rutgers, Notre Dame and WVU twice weekly, week in and week out. Which is great for women's hoops fans.
Plus, this should be a particularly interesting year, given how much things changed since last March.
The 2009-2010 season was the most disappointing I've seen from an Agnus Berenato team. Of course, graduating players like Xenia Stewart and Shavonte Zellous will set you back -- you don't replace players of that caliber overnight -- but even so, it was a strange and frustrating season. It felt like that team never came together. Naturally, there were big doings when it was over.
A number of players left, pretty much the entire sophomore class -- Pepper Wilson, Sarah Ogoke and Katie Popovec. I don't know those girls, but I have the utmost confidence in Coach B. Since she arrived at Pitt, I have followed her closely. I've been lucky enough to interview her and I've been around her a bunch of other times. Coach B is the real deal. If a player cannot get motivated to play for her, it's pretty likely that player has a problem getting motivated for anything.
Then, after that, Coach B's longtime assistant coach and super guy, Jeff Williams left to take the head coaching job at LaSalle. (Williams was the second key member of that staff to move on. Following the 2007-2008 season, Pitt Assistant, Shea Ralph, returned to her alma mater of UConn to take an assistant coaching job. Both Williams and Ralph did great work for Coach B. And both made great career moves by leaving. At the time that Ralph left, Coach B. told me that Geno (Auriemma) almost never has an opening, so how great is it that one of her coaches was chosen for that spot. I'm paraphrasing, but the point is, it's a feather in Pitt's cap that they've had their coaching staff raided for these other openings.)
First, Coach B. hired former New York Liberty Head Coach Patty Coyle, then she hired Khadija J. Head, an assistant at Middle Tennessee State for the staff.
Just a moment for this interstitial -- I should point out that Middle Tennessee State played their first round NCAA tournament game at the Pete last year. My buddy UConn Fan was there and sent pictures of the Mid. Tenn. St. mascot which looks like a blue transgendered 'Love My Pony,' sporting a silver pompadour mane, sparkly silver tail, silver wings and bright blue muscles.
Here it is on the sideline.
And here it is dancing to 'YMCA.'
[I am not making any of this up, but none of this reflects on Khadija Head who I am sure will do a great job for Pitt. I just thought that it was time to give transgendered athletic mascots their due.]
Then, there is the final piece of the coaching puzzle, former Pitt standout and fan favorite, Mallorie Winn. Even when Winn was a player, you just knew she'd end up coaching some day. I think she's gonna prove to be a great hire.
So, there's an entirely new coaching staff, lots of new faces on the bench and a chance for seniors Shayla Scott and Taneisha Harrison to make this team theirs. It's not gonna be boring.
Nov. 12 - Youngstown State (School Day)
Nov. 17 - At Minnesota
Nov. 21 - Radford
Nov. 24 - Duke
Nov. 28 - Loyola (Md.)
Dec. 1 - at St. Francis (Pa.)
Dec. 4 - Mount St. Mary's
Dec. 11 - at Valparaiso
Dec. 19 - Texas Tech (at Las Vegas)
Dec. 20 - Texas Arlington (at Las Vegas)
Dec. 28 - Austin Peay
Dec. 31 - at Central Michigan
Jan. 5 - at Duquesne