Since becoming Pittsburgh’s coach in 2003, Agnus Berenato has driven the Big East women’s basketball welcome wagon from town to town.
It is not unusual for her to begin postgame press conferences by thanking all those in attendance for coming. She has even been known to shake everyone’s hand in the room to reinforce her gratitude.
But graciousness does not win basketball games and that’s been clear at Pitt for just over two years now.
Tuesday, No. 3 UConn plays the Panthers at the XL Center in the final regular-season game of the year for the Huskies. They complete the season Saturday at South Florida and Monday against No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
That game will determine the conference regular-season championship, should UConn and Notre Dame win Saturday. The Irish play Providence.
Such excitement does not wait the Panthers (9-18, 0-14). They haven’t won a conference game since March 4, 2011, when they beat USF in the Big East Tournament. That was 31 games ago.
They haven’t won a regular-season conference game since Feb. 15, 2011 against Providence. That was 33 games ago.
Consider that Pitt went 12-4 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09, capping their fourth consecutive 20-win season. Since then they are 10-49 in the Big East regular season.
Still, its not possible for Pitt to set the record for the longest losing streak in the Big East history, even if it completes its second straight 0-16 season. Providence holds that (39) consecutive losses. And with likely just four left this year – three regular season, one tournament – it won’t happen before the Panthers move to the ACC next season.