It’s been a turbulent offseason for the Pitt women’s basketball team, as Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke made the decision to fire longtime head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio on April 5, replacing her with former Florida State assistant Lance White roughly two weeks later.
Now, it appears the Panthers will be without their leading scorer and rebounder from last season, as it was announced on Monday that star forward Yacine Diop will transfer to Louisville for her final season of eligibility. Diop will be eligible to play for the Cardinals immediately.
#PittWBB forward and leading scorer and rebounder Yacine Diop will transfer to Louisville. She’ll be immediately eligible with one season left to play.— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) April 30, 2018
Diop averaged 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Panthers in the 2017-18 season. Losing a player of her caliber at all, let alone to an ACC rival Pitt will face twice next season, has to be a tough blow to the team and its recently minted first-year head coach.
Unfortunately, early exits like this have become something of a pattern for the women’s basketball team. The Panthers similarly saw star forward Brenna Wise transfer out of the program in 2017, as she opted to finish out her college career with the Indiana Hoosiers.
It’s unclear at this point if Diop’s move was in reaction to the firing of McConnell-Serio or if she simply wanted to spend the remainder of her college career on a team closer to serious contention than the Panthers, who are three seasons removed from their last winning record.
Whatever the case, it’s not entirely surprising that a team in a state of flux with a string of losing seasons was no longer an appealing destination for a star player entering her senior year. The question now is whether White can frame it as such for a potential replacement, and honestly, that seems like a tall order, given his hire hasn’t been quite the shot in the arm Jeff Capel’s was.
The new coach is now left with the unenviable task of replacing a star player late in the recruiting cycle, and in addition to that, he has little in terms of depth behind Diop, as Kalista Walters was Pitt’s only other significant scoring and rebounding threat last season.