I wrote recently that, despite some injuries, Pitt's women's basketball team is playing fairly well and off to the program's best start in several years. The Panthers lost their first game since December 7th, but even that was fairly impressive since it was a narrow defeat to No. 7 Louisville, 63-57. Pitt is 10-4 on the year and starting to draw some attention.
ESPN's Bracketology for the women's tournament currently has the Panthers in their projected field of 64. In the most recent bracket, Pitt is slotted as a No. 9 seed in the East region.
The Panthers haven't reached the NCAA Tournament since 2009 when they made the Sweet 16.
For the past few years, the Pitt women's basketball program has struggled mightily, failing to gain any real traction. While some improvement was made last year under head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, it appeared that this year would be another difficult season.
Pitt lost starting center Bubbles Anderson, who re-injured her ACL in the offseason, for the entire year, and was shorthanded with some injuries. We've covered this before, but Pitt has had to fill in the gaps by recruiting Monica Wignot, a former Pitt volleyball player, and Suzie's daughter, Jordan, who last played in high school and wasn't previously on the team. The Wignot addition, in particular, has really worked out as she is the team's second leading scorer (11.0 ppg) and 3rd leading rebounder (5.5 rpg). Wignot also leads the team with 32 blocks on the year.
The Panthers also have star Brianna Kiesel leading the way. She tops the team in scoring with 17.9 points and assists with 4.9 per game.
Pitt obviously still has a lot of work to do to make the NCAAs and even a short losing streak in the ACC could bounce them from the projections. But if they are able to make it, it will be a huge step in the right direction for the program, which is on the rise.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.