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Young Pitt women's basketball team struggling in follow-up to NCAA Tournament season

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Pitt women's basketball program looked to be back on track with an NCAA Tournament appearance. This year, the team has struggled, taking a step back under head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.

The Panthers won against Virginia Tech on Sunday, but ACC victories have been few and far between. So far, Pitt is only 3-9 in conference and a disappointing 11-14 overall.

The biggest change from last year to this year is the loss of Brianna Kiesel. Kiesel was one of the program's best players of all time and had a successful rookie season in the WNBA after being drafted by the Tulsa Shock, starting 15 games. Kiesel's loss wasn't the only factor, though. Also gone is starting forward Monica Wignot who was the team's second leading scorer (behind Kiesel) and the team's third leading rebounder. In those two, Pitt lost about half of the team's scoring along with their leader in assists (Kiesel).

The Panthers are a team relying on quite a bit of youth as a result. Pitt has no seniors on the roster and only three juniors. Out of the team's 13 players, the Panthers have ten underclassmen. Not only that, but the freshmen and sophomores are really doing most of the heavy lifting. Seven of the top eight scorers, including the top six, are all underclassmen. All five starters are underclassmen as well.

Things are a bit rough this year with such a young team, but the future of the program is still a bright one. The past two recruiting classes were well regarded (last year, they were ranked as high as No. 22 by one site and ESPNW ranked them No. 31). McConnell-Serio received a much-deserved extension last year and should be in better shape in the years to come with everyone being back for another season and the core of the team sticking around through 2018.

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