Suzie McConnell-Serio, one of the most decorated players in the history of women's basketball and owner of more than 300 career coaching victories, was named the head women's basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh on April 12, 2013. She is the eighth coach in program history.
"From the WPIAL to the Olympics to the WNBA, Suzie McConnell-Serio is a true legend of the game," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said on the annoucement. "She has achieved tremendous success at all levels of basketball, both as a player and a coach. Our program is on the cusp of a new era with new opportunities in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Suzie is the right person to lead us into that new era. We are all committed to her success and are very excited to begin working together."
A member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and a two-time Olympic medalist as a player, McConnell-Serio joins Pitt following an impressive six-year tenure at neighboring Duquesne University. She never suffered a losing season as the Dukes head coach (2007-13) and led Duquesne to five consecutive 20-win campaigns for the first time in the program's history.
This past season, Duquesne went 24-8 overall and 11-3 in the Atlantic 10. The 24 wins tied the school record set by McConnell-Serio's 2010-11 team, while the 11 conference victories were the most ever by the Dukes. Boasting an RPI of 36, Duquesne advanced to the 2013 Women's National Invitation Tournament, an unprecedented fifth consecutive postseason berth for the program.
"I'm thankful for this incredible opportunity from Chancellor Nordenberg and Steve Pederson," said McConnell-Serio, who owned a 123-68 record (.644) at Duquesne. "I've been impressed with everything at the University of Pittsburgh and especially their commitment to the women's basketball program. Pitt is about its people and the enthusiasm that they have is really exciting and I'm proud to be a part of it."
McConnell-Serio's tenure at Duquesne was a continuation of the success she enjoyed during her other head coaching appointments on the professional and high school levels.
From 2003-06, she was the head coach of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Inheriting a team that finished 10-22 the previous year, she immediately turned the franchise around by leading the Lynx to a single-season record 18 victories and their first-ever playoff berth. The following year, McConnell-Serio guided Minnesota back to the playoffs, earning a franchise-best No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, and was named the 2004 WNBA Coach of the Year.
Prior to her WNBA coaching tenure, McConnell-Serio coached at nearby Oakland Catholic High School (1990-2003) and firmly established its girls' basketball program as a perennial Pennsylvania power. She led the Eagles to three PIAA Class AAAA championships and finished as the state runner-up twice. McConnell-Serio averaged 24 wins per year at Oakland Catholic, while producing nearly a dozen NCAA Division I scholarship players.
Before going on to coaching, McConnell-Serio enjoyed one of the finest playing careers in the history of women's basketball. That career began in Western Pennsylvania, where she was a Parade All-American and four-year starter at Seton-La Salle High School. As a senior she led the Lady Rebels to a 35-1 record and the PIAA championship. She also led the softball team to the WPIAL championship as a .500 hitter and was selected the Female Athlete of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
McConnell-Serio went on to star at Penn State (1984-88) and set NCAA Division I records for career assists (1,307), assists in a season (355) and single-season assists per game (11.8). She became the first player in program history to be named a first team All-American and was also a four-time All-Atlantic 10 honoree. McConnell-Serio was the 1988 recipient of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, presented to the nation's best senior player under 5-foot-8. The Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year of her career and had a four-year record of 95-33 (.742).
McConnell-Serio was the point guard for two Olympic teams, winning a gold medal at the 1988 Games in Seoul and a bronze in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. She has won five total medals for the USA as a player, including the 1991 World University Games (gold), 1986 FIBA World Championship (gold) and 1985 R. William Jones Cup (gold). In 2011, McConnell-Serio had her first USA Basketball coaching assignment, serving as an assistant for the USA Women's World University Games Team that won gold.
McConnell-Serio was drafted in the second round (16th overall pick) by the Cleveland Rockers in the 1998 WNBA Draft and played three decorated seasons. In her initial campaign she was honored as the WNBA Newcomer of the Year and selected first team All-WNBA. She also went on to be a two-time recipient of the league's Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award (1998 and 2000).
In 2008, McConnell-Serio received induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She was a member of the WPIAL Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 2007 and was elected to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. She was selected the first Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year in 1999 and repeated the honor in 2010. Sports Illustrated named McConnell-Serio the best 5-foot-4 basketball player - male or female - of all-time. That magazine also named her one of the Top 50 Pennsylvania Athletes of the 20th Century. She additionally was named to the USA Today All-Time Women's Basketball Team.
McConnell-Serio and her husband Pete were both born and raised in the Brookline area of Pittsburgh. They are the parents of four children: Peter (22), Jordan (18), Mandi (17) and Madison (15).
McConnell-Serio comes from a famed Pittsburgh basketball family. Her sister Kathy, who was her teammate on the 1984 Seton-La Salle state championship team, was the head coach at Tulsa (1999-05) and the University of Colorado (2006-10) before accepting a position as the assistant coach with the WNBA's Tulsa Shock. Kathy joined the Pitt staff as the associate head coach in late May.
Kathy was also an assistant coach at the University of Illinois and Rutgers. She gained her initial job in college basketball at the University of Pittsburgh as a recruiting coordinator during the 1991-92 season under Kirk Bruce. Kathy played in four NCAA Tournaments while at the University of Virginia.
Her brother Tom played two seasons at Davidson and was the head coach at Saint Francis (Pa.) University from 1992-99. He also has been an assistant coach at Wake Forest, Marquette and Dayton as well as an assistant women's coach at the University of Colorado with sister Kathy. He currently is an assistant women's coach at Old Dominion University.
Her brother Tim played at Waynesburg College and has served as the boys' coach at Chartiers Valley High School since 1992, winning more than 400 career games.
Sister Maureen, who also starred at Seton-La Salle, played at the University of Pittsburgh, lettering from 1989-91. McConnell-Serio's nephew T.J. (Tim's son) currently plays at the University of Arizona under former Pitt player Sean Miller.