One of the finest players in recent college women's basketball history, Shea Ralph enters her fifth season with the Pitt coaching staff. Ralph, a former standout at Connecticut, works primarily with the guards, is heavily involved with the team's conditioning program, assists with individual workouts, scouting and is the academic liaison for the team.
"I feel so blessed to be part of this amazing program. We have a wonderful staff and team and we are all so excited for the upcoming season," Ralph said.
As a part of Berenato's staff at Pitt from the beginning, Ralph has been instrumental in the development of the guards, and the program as a whole. In 2006, Ralph helped lead point guard Mallorie Winn to All-Big East Second Team honors as a junior and last season, sophomore guard Shavonte Zellous was named the Big East's Most Valuable Player and freshman point guard Jania Sims was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team.
"She is such a valuable asset to our program," head coach Agnus Berenato said. "Her experience as one of the most prolific players in recent history combined with her outstanding worth ethic has translated into making Shea one of the great young coaches in our business and we are thrilled that she is on our staff."
Ralph graduated from UConn among the top 10 leaders in several categories, including scoring (1,678), assists (456), steals (252) and field-goal percentage (.579). A captain of the 2000 national championship team, Ralph was named the Most Valuable Player of the Final Four, leading the Huskies to a 71-52 win over Tennessee in the National Championship game. In addition to her MVP award, Ralph was a Naismith Player of the Year finalist. That same year, she earned first team Kodak and Associated Press All-America honors in addition to being named the Big East Player of the Year.
Ralph was also the Sports Illustrated for Women Player of the Year and the recipient of the Honda Award, given to the top female collegiate athlete in each of 12 sports. In 2000-01, Ralph was listed as the Preseason Big East Player of the Year and ESPN The Magazine named her to the Preseason All-America First Team.
Ralph was a member of the 2000 U.S. Jones Cup Gold Medal team and paced the squad in scoring (12.0 ppg) and steals (1.75 spg). She was awarded Big East Championship Most Outstanding Player honors as UConn won the 1999 conference tournament, defeating Notre Dame. Other awards earned by Ralph include the Big East Rookie of the Year, United States Basketball Writer's Association (USBWA) Freshman of the Year, Sporting News National Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year by Dick Vitale College Basketball in 1996-97.
A 2001 graduate of Connecticut with a degree in exercise physiology, Ralph was drafted that summer by the WNBA's Utah Starzz but was unable to compete because of a knee injury. She later went on to make the NWBL's Springfield Spirit team before falling victim to injury again. Ralph then became an assistant coach for the Spirit before joining Berenato's inaugural staff at Pittsburgh in the fall of 2003.
In high school at Terry Sanford High in Fayetteville, N.C., Ralph got her start in the spotlight early, earning National High School Player of the Year honors.
Ralph has also been a motivational speaker all over the country for the past five years and has worked numerous basketball camps for both collegiate and professional teams.
BACKGROUND ON RALPH
FULL NAME: Shea Sydney Ralph
BIRTHDATE: March 12, 1978
EDUCATION: B.A. -- Exercise physiology, Connecticut (2001)
COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE: Pittsburgh (2003-Present), Assistant Coach
PROFESSIONAL COACHING EXPERIENCE: Springfield Spirit -- National Women's Basketball League (2003), Assistant Coach
National High School Player of the Year
Big East Rookie of the Year (1997)
Big East Player of the Year (2000)
Kodak All-American (2000)
Final Four MVP (2000)
Captain, 2000 National Championship team
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