January 1, 2023 

‘She’s a McConnell’: Inside the statistics of one of the nation’s most impactful basketball families

Duquesne’s Megan McConnell is the family’s latest in a long line of women’s college basketball players

When Megan McConnell was in fifth grade, a local youth coach came across her shooting pull-up jump shots from the free-throw line. “Wow,” he said to her dad Tim, who was also an area coach. “She shoots way better than Suzie ever shot.”

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He was referring to Suzie McConnell Serio, a two-time Olympic medalist and a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee — and McConnell’s aunt.

The McConnells are one of the most robust and talented basketball families in the country: McConnell’s grandparents met in a Pittsburgh gym in 1955, when Tom McConnell saw Sue McGrady playing six-on-six basketball and convinced her to date him. Six of their eight children, including McConnell Serio, and several grandchildren have played college and professional basketball, and many have gone on to coach the game. One, Megan McConnell’s uncle Mike, even became an official.

“There’s constant conversation about basketball anytime we have get-togethers,” McConnell Serio told the Greene County Messenger in 2015. “We’re analyzing how to defend a screen, what we’re running against certain defenses.”

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Much like McConnell Serio did growing up in Pittsburgh, McConnell grew up playing with her brothers — T.J., who is 10 years older, and Matty, who is six years older — in the driveway. She also attended camps at nearby Duquesne, where McConnell Serio coached from 2007-13, and her dad’s boys’ basketball practices at Chartiers Valley High School.

McConnell went on to become a four-time all-state honoree and score 1,521 career points at Chartiers Valley, playing her first two seasons for head coach Dan Slain and her final two for her dad, who switched from coaching boys to coaching girls in 2018. In 2017, Slain described McConnell, the team’s defensive stopper as well as a star offensively, as “a pit bull who someone just took her bone away.”

In McConnell’s two seasons playing for her dad, Chartiers Valley went undefeated at 57-0. The Colts broke the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) record for consecutive wins and won three straight WPIAL titles from 2018-20. The third of those titles came against Trinity, which had a first-year head coach who was familiar to McConnell and her dad: Kathy McConnell-Miller, another of McConnell’s aunts.

“My dad has been the biggest influence on me,” McConnell told The Almanac in 2019. “… I could say, ‘Hey, Dad, shoot with me. Help me with my form. My ball handling. What am I doing wrong?’ … Having him as my coach has improved our relationship. It’s always been great, but it has brought us closer than ever.”

McConnell chose Duquesne over St. Bonaventure and Loyola University Maryland, in part because it was close to home. She was expected to redshirt as a freshman in 2020-21, but then the NCAA announced that the season wouldn’t count toward players’ eligibility. And when head coach Dan Burt played her, she was a difference-maker: She started nine of her 16 games and averaged 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

“Meg is our point guard; this is her team,” Burt told Pittsburgh Sports Now in February 2021. “… She is an incredibly valuable piece and she’s not going to come out of the game.”

A year later, after McConnell had improved in each of those statistical categories and started 28 of 29 games, Burt described his point guard in four words: “Simply, she’s a McConnell.”

To understand what “being a McConnell” means on the court, I gathered the college statistics for all the McConnell women I could find who played, or are on track to play, four seasons of Division I basketball: McConnell at Duquesne, McConnell Serio at Penn State and McConnell-Miller at Virginia. Not included in this analysis: Another of McConnell’s aunts, Maureen, played two seasons at Pittsburgh from 1989-91, and McConnell Serio’s daughters Jordan and Madison Serio played one and two seasons there, respectively.

All statistics are from the teams’ websites unless otherwise noted, and the best result in each category is shaded in gray. (Note: All three women had the last name McConnell in college, but this story will use McConnell Serio and McConnell-Miller’s married names throughout to distinguish them from their relatives.)

Data for Kathy McConnell-Miller were provided by Virginia Athletics from their archives. *not available; **data are only available through McConnell-Miller’s junior season; ^data are for games through Dec. 30, 2022.

Unsurprisingly, McConnell Serio, one of the best point guards in women’s college basketball history, leads the family in most statistical categories — including her eye-popping average of 10.2 assists per game. She balanced that passing with a deft scoring touch, averaging 14.8 points per game on nearly 50% shooting from the field and, after its introduction in 1986, nearly 38% shooting from 3-point range.

But McConnell-Miller was the one who advanced the farthest in the NCAA Tournament, reaching three Sweet Sixteens and an Elite Eight in 1988. And McConnell, despite standing just 5’7, averages a family-high 6.4 rebounds per game. She is also the best at limiting turnovers, at just 1.9 per game.

McConnell Serio and McConnell-Miller, who are just a year apart in age, started playing basketball in their neighborhood in the 1970s. McConnell Serio played on the boys’ team at her elementary school, Our Lady of Loreto, because there wasn’t a girls’ team at the time. But when younger sister McConnell-Miller also joined the boys’ team, McConnell-Miller said in 2015, the boys “didn’t like that so much,” and the school decided it needed a girls’ team.

The sisters played constantly, often with their brothers Tom and Tim in games of two-on-two. “We’d even come home from school for lunch in our uniforms, eat and go in the backyard to shoot,” McConnell Serio told TribLIVE in 2013. They were too competitive to play one-on-one much, but they complemented each other as teammates, despite both being undersized at 5’4.

“I always knew where she was on the court, and we took care of each other,” McConnell Serio told The Pitt News in 2017. In 1984, McConnell Serio’s senior year, they won a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) championship together for Seton LaSalle Catholic High School.

McConnell Serio then chose Penn State over Georgia, Louisiana Tech, Maryland and Rutgers and became the program’s first First-Team All-American in 1988. Penn State made four NCAA Tournaments and advanced to two Sweet Sixteens in McConnell Serio’s career, and she set NCAA records for assists per game in a season (11.8 in 1986-87) and career assists (1,307) that still stand today. She also held the record for career triple-doubles (seven) until the 2018-19 season.

McConnell-Miller likewise helped Virginia advance to four NCAA Tournaments, though she missed most of her sophomore season with a broken kneecap, according to an archival bio provided by Virginia. She carved out a role as a 3-point shooter as a junior, scoring more than three times as many points as she had in the previous two seasons. As a senior, she averaged career highs in scoring (6.1 points per game), assists (2.7) and steals (1.5).

The summer after McConnell Serio’s final season at Penn State, she played on the U.S. Olympic team that won gold in Seoul, South Korea. She averaged 8.4 points, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 52.0% from the field.

“That was the highlight of my career,” she told the Chicago Tribune four years later. “Standing up on that platform, having a gold medal placed around your neck with USA on your sweatsuit is just so exciting for me. It’s an experience I wish everyone could have. It’s so exciting, so emotional that I want to share it with everyone.”

McConnell Serio retired after the Olympics, had her first child, and began coaching at Oakland Catholic, a private high school in Pittsburgh. But she decided to return for the 1992 Olympics and enlisted Tim as her trainer. They played one-on-one, ran hills and stadium stairs in Pittsburgh, and played pickup with men at Oakland Catholic — with no subs for McConnell Serio. “She never sat down,” Tim told The Baltimore Sun in 1992. “… That’s what we were there for.”

Though McConnell Serio initially thought her chances of making the team were “slim,” she ended up winning a bronze medal. She averaged 6.8 points, 3.6 assists and 5.2 steals per game, ranking fourth in the tournament in assists per game and third in steals.

McConnell Serio retired again after that Olympics, only to eye another comeback when the WNBA started in 1997. She had had her fourth child during the inaugural season, but she watched the league on television. “I was envious watching all this and seeing these players play,” she told the Tampa Bay Times in 1998. “I wanted to see if I could come back and play at this level. The caliber of competition is incredible.”

Cleveland Rockers guard Suzie McConnell Serio dribbles the ball with her left hand against Charlotte Sting guard Dawn Staley.
Cleveland Rockers guard Suzie McConnell Serio (4) dribbles the ball against Charlotte Sting guard Dawn Staley (5) during a WNBA game in 1999. (Photo credit: Penn State Athletics)

After being drafted No. 16 overall in 1998, McConnell Serio played three seasons with the Cleveland Rockers, commuting two hours from the family home in Pittsburgh. She started all 78 games she played, averaged 6.7 points and 4.8 assists per game, and shot 38.2% from 3-point range. She was named to the All-WNBA First Team in 1998 and ranked in the top seven in assist percentage in all three seasons. But she retired for the final time after the 2000 season, wanting to spend more time with her children.

McConnell Serio continued to coach at Oakland Catholic, where she had worked since 1990, and won two more state championships (the first had been in 1993). In 2003, though, she got a call from Roger Griffith, then the Minnesota Lynx CEO, who asked her to be the team’s head coach. She didn’t have college or professional coaching experience and was shocked to get the call, but she eventually accepted and led the franchise to its first-ever playoff berth in her first season. The next season, in 2004, she was named WNBA Coach of the Year. But a losing season in 2005 and an 8-15 start to the 2006 season prompted her to resign midseason.

McConnell Serio then briefly entered broadcasting before becoming the head coach at Duquesne in 2007 and Pittsburgh in 2013. At Pittsburgh, she hired McConnell-Miller, who had started her career there in 1991 as the recruiting coordinator and subsequently coached at Illinois and Rutgers as an assistant, Tulsa and Colorado as the head coach, and the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock as an assistant.

“She has won everywhere she has been, so in my selfish ways I wanted to see the way she worked, how she worked and learn from her,” McConnell-Miller told The Pitt News in 2015. When people told McConnell-Miller that they could never work with their sister, she would respond, “Well, your sister’s not Suzie.”

Pittsburgh associate head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller (left) and head coach Suzie McConnell Serio gaze out at the court. McConnell-Miller holds several pieces of paper, while McConnell Serio's hands are clasped in front of her.
Pittsburgh associate head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller (left) and head coach Suzie McConnell Serio shared the bench for five seasons. (Photo credit: Duquesne Athletics)

McConnell Serio and McConnell-Miller led Pittsburgh to the 2015 NCAA Tournament as a No. 10 seed, and the Panthers defeated No. 7 Chattanooga before falling to No. 2 Tennessee. Players spoke highly of McConnell Serio as a head coach and a motivator: “She obviously knows what she’s doing,” Stasha Carey, one of McConnell Serio’s first recruits, told The Pitt News in 2015. “She’s been an Olympian, she’s been through the process, she knows what it’s like. It’s definitely easy to trust her.”

“She makes me want to work hard for her and for the team,” forward Monica Wignot told WTAE in 2015. “If I’m on the court and I mess up or something, I get upset at myself because I feel like I’m letting her down.”

The following table shows statistics from the sisters’ tenures as college head coaches. Just as with their playing careers, the best result in each category is shaded in gray.

Data are from teams’ websites and aggregated by Jenn Hatfield.

Both coaches led college programs for 11 years and made multiple WNIT appearances, including a five-year streak for McConnell Serio at Duquesne. McConnell-Miller left Tulsa as the Hurricanes’ all-time winningest coach, and McConnell Serio left Duquesne with the second-most wins in program history.

Although McConnell Serio has the advantage in most statistical categories, including wins per year and postseason appearances, it’s a shared victory, as McConnell-Miller was Pittsburgh’s associate head coach when it made the NCAA Tournament.

At Pittsburgh, the family ties extended beyond the two sisters. McConnell Serio and McConnell-Miller coached against their older brother Tom, then the head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in preseason games. The sisters found those games excruciating, but Tom relished seeing his sisters coach.

“They’ve done some great things in basketball together as players, so I think it’s only fitting to see them on the sideline together,” Tom told The Pitt News in 2017. “It’s tremendous. I love what they’re doing and building at Pitt.”

In addition, every season from 2014-17, McConnell Serio had a daughter on the team. Jordan and Madison Serio had grown up playing for their dad, Pete Serio, but didn’t plan to play collegiately. Jordan stepped in for one season in 2014-15 when Pittsburgh weathered several injuries, and Madison walked on the next year and played two seasons. Both played limited minutes, just 6.5 per game for Jordan and 4.8 for Madison, and neither averaged even a point per game. But Jordan was there for the 2015 NCAA Tournament, and both got to experience their mom’s “intense and competitive” side as their coach.


McConnell Serio and her staff were fired from Pittsburgh in April 2018, and McConnell-Miller later got the job at Trinity. McConnell Serio helped convince McConnell-Miller to take the job, telling her that she would love coaching at the high school level. Megan McConnell, too, has said that she wants to coach high school basketball, following in many family members’ footsteps.

In October 2015, after Pittsburgh’s NCAA Tournament run, a columnist for the Pittsburgh City Paper wrote about McConnell Serio’s legacy. “If the day arrives,” he wrote, “when this city comes to its senses and finally puts up a statue of a Pittsburgh sports star who’s not a guy, there is no better candidate.”

That hasn’t happened yet, but if it does, the city might need to commission a bigger statue — one of all the women in the McConnell family who have impacted basketball in Pittsburgh and beyond.

Read all of Jenn Hatfield’s Family Rivalries stories here.

Written by Jenn Hatfield

Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats, FanSided, Power Plays and Princeton Alumni Weekly.

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