Pitt head coach Agnus Berenato and Taneisha Harrison
Sept. 8, 2008
The 2008-09 Pitt women’s basketball schedule will highlight six teams which finished last season ranked in the top 15 in the final Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). The Panthers’ schedule, announced Monday by head coach Agnus Berenato, will also feature a home non-conference appearance by Maryland, who was ranked No. 2 in an early preseason ESPN.com ranking.
“When you look at a schedule that is comprised of 28 games and 16 of those are against teams that made the postseason last year, that is an unbelievable challenge for a team that lost a starting point guard and center,” Berenato said. “However, we are really excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and the fact that we have Shavonte Zellous, Xenia Stewart and Jania Sims returning, along with a fantastic incoming class. We feel we have a team that is able to compete at the level of our schedule.”
Pitt opens the season Nov. 16 against Texas A&M in the prestigious State Farm Tipoff Classic in Baton Rouge, La. The Aggies finished the 2007-08 season with a No. 8 RPI and are expected to be preseason top 10.
The Panthers will not only face those six teams in the NCAA RPI top 15 (#2 Connecticut, #4 Rutgers, #6 Maryland, #8 Texas A&M, #11 Louisville and #13 Notre Dame), but they will also play 16 games against teams who made the postseason last year.
Pitt’s home opener will be against Penn State Monday, Nov. 24, prior to the Panthers’ Thanksgiving Tournament Nov. 28 and 29 at the Petersen Events Center.
The Panthers will make the short trip to in-town rival Duquesne on Dec. 3 and Maryland comes to the Petersen Events Center on Dec. 7. In addition, Pitt will travel to SEC contender Florida on Dec. 21 and will host perennial NCAA Tournament participant Western Kentucky on Dec. 30.
The Big East season begins with a bang as Pitt hosts league foe West Virginia Jan. 4. The Mountaineers are the lone conference team the Panthers will face twice in the regular season. Other home Big East games include: DePaul (Jan. 10), USF (Jan. 17), Marquette (Jan. 30), Notre Dame (Feb. 3), Villanova (Feb. 18), Cincinnati (Feb. 21) and St. John’s (March 2).
Pitt will travel to Providence Jan. 7, Seton Hall Jan. 20, Syracuse Jan. 24, Georgetown Jan. 27, Rutgers Feb. 10, Connecticut Feb. 15, West Virginia Feb. 24 and Louisville Feb. 28.
The Big East Tournament is scheduled for March 6-10 with the format to now include every team in the league. The NCAA Tournament will begin March 21-22 with the first round of competition.
“It is an amazing opportunity to be able to open our season with the State Farm Tipoff Classic and follow that with hosting Maryland,” Berenato said. “Between our conference and non-conference schedules, none of it is easy. February poses a chance for us to see where we stand as we will have a tough stretch with six of our last eight games against highly-ranked opponents.”
Pitt returns three starters, including All-America candidate Shavonte Zellous, from last season’s Sweet 16 team. The Panthers finished the record-breaking season with a 24-11 record and its first postseason ranking in school history at No. 16.
The television schedule and game times are set to be released at a later date. For ticket information on regular-season games, please contact the Panther Ticket Office at 1-800-643-PITT.