Ex-assistant: Berenato rejuvenated Pitt program
Jeff Williams was an assistant to Agnus Berenato at Georgia Tech and then at Pitt before leaving to become head coach at La Salle three years ago.
On Tuesday, he said he was sorry to learn that Pitt let Berenato go after back-to-back winless seasons in Big East play.
“I think Agnus did a tremendous job rejuvenating the program and putting Pitt back on the map, so to speak,” he said. “It's tough. You don't want to see that happen, especially to someone you care about. But it's a business decision, and I know she'll do well moving forward.”
Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson declined to answer questions about the decision, announced late Monday night.
The search for a coach begins immediately.
ESPN analyst Krista Blunk said with the impending move to the ACC, the time was right to make a change.
“For me, in that program, I believe you need somebody who wants to get the community behind it and has local ties and really understands the city, the program and the school,” Blunk said. “I think it'd be great to get someone that people know and want to back and support.”
Suzie McConnell-Serio fits that description, although she is under contract at Duquesne through 2017-18. McConnell-Serio declined to comment Tuesday.
Kenny Kallina of Florida Girls Basketball recently named McConnell-Serio one of the top mid-major coaches in the country and her assistant, Dan Burt, one of the top mid-major assistants. Former Pitt assistant Yolett McPhee-McCuin, who left the Panthers a month after Williams to take a similar post at Clemson, is on his list of top Division I assistants. So is Connecticut's Shea Ralph, who was part of Berenato's inaugural staff from 2003 until going to the Huskies in 2008.