Committed to Bearcat Basketball
Pirtle, who is entering her 21st year as the Bearcats' mentor, is without question the most successful women's basketball coach in UC history and has put together one of her most impressive coaching jobs in the first season in the powerful BIG EAST Conference.
During her tenure, the Bearcats have won 295 games and have advanced to postseason play more times than they have under any other coach. In the last 10 years, Pirtle has guided UC to eight winning seasons, five 20-plus win campaigns and eight postseason appearances, including seven straight from 1997-2004. Cincinnati also had its first player play in the WNBA as K.B. Sharp will enter her fourth season in the league in 2006.
Last season Pirtle took a team coming off a nine-win season, added five freshmen, and produced one of the biggest turnarounds in school history. Starting at least two freshmen in each game, UC won eight more games than in 2004-05, scored 10 points per game more and had a +6.4 rebounding margin, second-best in school annals.
The 2002-03 Bearcats began the season ranked as high No. 18, the first time a Cincinnati team was ever ranked to begin a season. Under Pirtle's direction, UC set a school record for consecutive home wins (21) and a C-USA mark for most consecutive league games won (15). The Bearcats finished second in C-USA in the regular season and the tournament, reaching the title game for the third-straight year. UC performed the unprecendented feat of having three players, Sharp, Valerie King and Debbie Merrill, named first team All-C-USA.
During the 2001-02 season, UC posted its best start to a season ever with 11 straight wins. On Dec. 31, Cincinnati received it's first-ever ranking in the polls, coming in at No. 23 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and No. 25 in the Associated Press poll. After suffering four losses in six games, the Bearcats responded with a school record 14-game winning streak, which included a C-USA Tournament title and the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win, a 76-63 overtime thriller against St. Peter's. King earned honorable mention All-American honors, UC's first in 16 years.
The foundation for success was put in place back in 1986 when Pirtle first stepped foot on campus. It took her just two seasons to transpose a 6-22 program into an 18-11 winning team. Her outstanding efforts were rewarded in 1988, when she picked up Coach of the Year honors in the Metro Conference following UC's second-place finish in the league. Pirtle also earned her 100th career win that same year.
A season later, the Bearcats earned their first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. In that star-studded season (1988-89), Cincinnati won 12 straight games, knocking off powerhouses Ohio State, UCLA and Kentucky. UC won the mythical state championship of Ohio Division I schools with a 7-1 slate against intrastate rivals.
Determined To Put UC In The Limelight
A year later, Pirtle carried the Cincinnati program into the national spotlight when she guided the Bearcats to their third postseason appearance and first showing in the WNIT. UC posted its first 20-win season in nine years and received votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll.
With her sights on an NCAA Tournament appearance, Pirtle brought her team to the next level in 1998-99. Highlighted by the team's second straight 20-win season, Cincinnati earned a share of the C-USA regular season title, a runner-up finish in the league tournament and received votes in both national polls, including a No. 27 ranking by the Associated Press.
Most significantly, though, was that Pirtle reached her goal-a bid to the Big Dance. After producing a 20-7 regular season record, Pirtle was honored as the C-USA Coach of the Year, the eighth similar honor in her career.
A season later, Cincinnati earned its second bid to the WNIT. Powered by Madinah Slaise's 32 points, UC defeated Pittsburgh, 76-60, in the first round to record the program's second postseason win. The Bearcats closed out the season as one of five Conference USA schools ranked in the top 60 in the final RPI Report.
In 2000-01, the Bearcats extended the school's postseason streak, making a late run to earn their second straight bid to the WNIT. Winners of eight of its last 10 games, Cincinnati faced Ohio State in the first round, losing on a basket at the buzzer, 61-60. The team finished at 22-10, its third 20-plus win campaign in four years. Other season highlights included freshman Valerie King's selection as the C-USA Tournament's Most Valuable Player. She also became the fifth UC player in six years to be selected to the league's all-freshman team.
Prior to Cincinnati, Pirtle served a four-year stint as the head coach at Capital University, posting an 83-16 (.838) mark. Under her direction, the Crusaders made their first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four after a 27-4 showing during the 1985-86 season. They also won a pair of Ohio Athletic Conference titles.
Pirtle was named the OAC and Converse Division III District Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1986, and was the Ohio Intercollegiate Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1985.
Pirtle earned her first coaching position, following her graduation from Ohio State in 1980, serving one season (1981-82) as an assistant coach at William Fisher Catholic High School in Lancaster, Ohio.
At OSU, Pirtle was a three-year starter after entering the program as a walk-on. A gifted ball-handler, Pirtle still ranks in the top 10 for career assists (317 in 104 games). She earned her B.S. and M.S. from OSU in 1980 and 1986, respectively.
Following graduation, Pirtle signed and practiced with the New Mexico Energee of the Ladies Professional Basketball Association. She also competed in the Venezuelan Basketball League for the Venezuela Oilers in 1980.
Loyal To Cincinnati And Its Community
Pirtle represents the university at championship events and other professional organizations such as the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. She also serves as a committee member for the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Women's Sports Association, who recognizes the area's leading female athletes. Following the 1999-00 season, the Leading Women of Cincinnati selected Pirtle as a Leading Woman in the area for her outstanding contributions to women's athletics.
A longtime member of UC Athletics, Pirtle remains true and loyal to Bearcat basketball for one reason--it's home. She knows Bearcat women's basketball more than anyone else. She lives it.
The Pirtle Coaching File
Milestone Wins at UC
Awards & Honors