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Pitt

McConnell-Serio optimistic about Pitt women's basketball future

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 5:33 p.m.
Pitt women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio gives instructions during the second half against James Madison Thursday, Dec. 4, 2013, at Petersen Events Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pitt women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio gives instructions during the second half against James Madison Thursday, Dec. 4, 2013, at Petersen Events Center.

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — More doors might open for Pitt women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio after her team's appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

She hopes that leads to more and better recruits for a program that tripled its ACC victories from three in 2013-14 — her first season on the job — to nine this past season. The team earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament and won its opening-round game.

“When you are competing with other ACC schools for players and you are at the bottom (of the conference), it makes it very difficult,” said McConnell-Serio, who concluded meetings with league coaches Wednesday. “Now, you are an NCAA Tournament team. It brings you credibility. The success we had has gotten us in with players who maybe beforehand wouldn't consider Pitt.

“The future will tell more if we are able to land those recruits.”

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, who led her team to its seventh Final Four and reached the championship game, has noticed what's happening at Pitt.

“Suzie has brought a new energy, a new respect because of what she's accomplished in her career, the success she had as a player and a coach,” she said.

Improving the game

McGraw is Division I Legislative Chair of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's board of directors. As such, she constantly is thinking about the health of the game.

McGraw was dismayed at this year's Sweet 16, when attendance for Notre Dame's game against Stanford drew only 3,878 people in Oklahoma City.

She has suggested moving all the Sweet 16 games to one site to attract more fans. Her big-picture thoughts include dividing games into four quarters instead of the current two-halves format.

“We want to score more,” she said. “(Four quarters would mean) less stoppages in the game. It flows a little more. You don't have as many timeouts.”

Plus, there would be more end-of-the-clock scenarios, she said.

“It would be a little exciting at the end of the quarters, getting that last shot,” she said.

McGraw's ideas remain in the conversation stage.

Camping out?

Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi worked in a conference (the Big Ten) that uses satellite camps for recruiting purposes, but ACC coaches don't support them.

Camps are scheduled during coaches' down time, and Narduzzi said he can spend his in a variety of other ways.

“I get one time of the year to see my family and come home at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, throw the football with my son or jump in the pool with my daughter,” he said. “It (also) takes away from our players on our football team. If a kid needs something, and he wants to come up to the office and see Coach Narduzzi or Coach (Josh) Conklin or Coach (Jim) Chaney, he's not there. He's (at the camp) again.”

Narduzzi said Michigan State participated in one off-campus camp, in Detroit.

“It's a good camp, but you're sitting down there looking at your watch,” he said.

Talk is good

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich, a member of the college football playoff committee, prefers people picking the semifinalists rather than computers.

“You choose your poison,” he said. “You either have a living, breathing human being evaluating what you are doing and how it's working, or you have gears and diodes putting things in there and spitting it out.

“You can't talk to the computer.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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