Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Former Loyola Coach Pat Coyle Helping Rebuild Pitt

From the 1980-81 season through 1992-92 the Loyola women's basketball program failed to record a winning season. That's a 13-year stretch in which 10 seasons produced single-digit victory totals.

Enter Pat Coyle, formerly a standout player at Rutgers who had been an assistant at three different colleges before being named head coach at Loyola.

Under Coyle the Greyhounds immediately became a winner, finishing 18-11 in her first season. In six years at Loyola she had one losing season, a 9-19 finish in 1996-97 and, then, followed that with back-to-back 20-victory totals the following two years.

After six years at Loyola Coyle moved on to the professional ranks, first as an assistant with the New York Liberty and, eventually, to nearly five years as that team's head coach before she was fired in May of 2009. In all, she had nearly 11 seasons on the professional ranks.

Where is she now?

Coyle is back in the college ranks, hired at the University of Pittsburgh prior to the 2010-11 season. She is now that program's associate head coach under well-regarded program director Agnus Berenato.

Your Hoopscribe had time for a short visit with Coyle prior to Pitt's game against Siena Tuesday afternoon, a 75-50 Pitt victory, at Pittsburgh's Fitzgerald Center.

Coyle said she could have pursued opportunities to remain in the professional ranks, but wanted to back dealing with younger athletes in college.

"I got back to college and discovered the athletes have really changed over the years," she said. "Now, they're so much more connected with everything, with all the social media opportunities and everything else."

Pitt has been rebuilding in recent years, having finished 14-17 two years ago and 8-22 last season but seems to be turning the corner, certainly in no small part to Coyle's work as a staff member.

After beating Siena, the Panthers are 2-1 overall and have the type athleticism that one would expect from a Big East program.

The team also has a requisite standout in Asia Logan, a gifted 6-foot forward who is averaging 20.7 points through three games, and a standout point guard in sophomore Brianna Kiesel. And, there's not a senior on the roster so the program not only will make strides this year but have everyone back a year from now.

Next year's roster will also include current freshman redshirt Marvadene Anderson, a 6-foot-11 center who, according to Pitt game notes, is the tallest teenager in the world.

"We;re really young, but our goal is to get better every game," said Coyle. "Then, by January, we'll be ready for the Big East season."

Coyle said she still has fond memories of her six seasons at Loyola and in the MAAC.

"What I miss the most is the people from the school and around the league that I had good relationships with," she said. "The MAAC is a very good league, and that all starts with the leadership, We had some battles with some good programs when I was at Loyola, and I always enjoyed them."

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