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Pitt women’s basketball team has joined men in struggling

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve spent all season covering the failures of this year’s basketball season for the Pitt men. But what many fans aren’t realizing is that the women’s program has been nearly as bad.

Like the men, the women’s team was expected to have its fair share of struggles. In the offseason, the team lost its best player, Brenna Wise, to a transfer. The team also lost its senior starting point guard Aysia Bugg to a year-long injury. While the team hoped to get Bugg back at some point, she hasn’t played all season.

Add it up and the results weren’t real good. The women’s team hasn’t quite as bad as the men this year ... but it’s been close. The women’s basketball team is only 10-19 and will now face Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament. Like the men, they’ve struggled badly in conference play and recorded a 2-14 record against the ACC programs.

It’s not just the losses. Like the men, many have been ugly ones. Nine conference losses have been by double digits and Pitt was just pounded for an 81-49 loss to No. 4 Louisville in their regular season finale on Sunday. The average margin of defeat in conference games has been nearly 15 points per game. Most have not been that close and several have been absolute blowouts.

There’s no doubt that the Suzie McConnell-Serio hire seemed like a good one back in 2013. After a down first year, she seemed to confirm that by winning 20 games the following season, including pulling off a first-round upset over a ranked Chattanooga team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Since then, though, things have gone downhill.

After that season, Pitt won only 13 games each of the next two years. Barring an unforeseen postseason run in the ACC Tournament, this year they will win less than that this season.

McConnell-Serio has certainly had some things go against her. The Bugg injury really hurt this year as did the Wise transfer. Last year, the team suffered another big injury, losing Yacine Diop for the season. Diop is the team’s best player this year, so obviously, that was a big problem.

Next year should be better for the team. The team loses no one and the only senior, Bugg, should return after redshirting this season. Pitt returns a very experienced unit and some quality underclassmen. Despite a train wreck of a season, the Panthers should be in much better position next year if they can stay healthy.

If I’m Pitt, I give McConnell-Serio another year. But next season may be the one she has to put it all together. Thus far, she’s had one successful season out of five and at some point, injuries or not, you’ve got to produce.

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