As Brianna Kiesel tried to process her return to Pitt, her fiancé Corwin made her pause with three simple words coming off his lips.
“My fiancé is cheering for me right now as he’s excited for me to go to Pitt,” she said. “He has all of his Pitt gear on. He’s going Hail to Pitt, he’s mouthing it to me. He’s more excited than I am. It’s hilarious.”
The couple have every reason to be excited as Kiesel who amassed 1,938 career points and led Pitt to a 2015 NCAA Tournament appearance, among several accomplishments, will be a Panther once again, this time as an assistant coach.
It was perfect timing for Kiesel who was ready to do something else after a six-year pro career which included time with three WNBA teams and five times in four other countries, but the now-former point guard has been in a long-distance relationship for the past three years and it was time to go home.
Now less then two months after her final professional game, she will be able to do just that.
“I didn’t think that Pitt was going to be available so soon, so being able to go back and have the confidence Coach (Lance) White has in me to bring my knowledge to these student-athletes makes me feel amazing,” said Kiesel. “I love Pitt and anyone who knows me knows I bleed Pitt blue and good. I am excited to give back.”
Pitt Basketball on Twitter: “🚨 WELCOME BACK 🚨 We are beyond excited to announce that former Panther @BriannaKiesel03 has been tabbed as our new assistant coach‼️ ✅ 1938 points (5th all-time) ✅ 433 assists (5th all-time) ✅ Name etched on Varsity Walk 📰 https://t.co/CEkkF9FlU4 #H2P // #GoBeyond https://t.co/yipsBhNorM” / Twitter
WHAT SET HER APART
When recalling his relationship with Kiesel, White recalled her being one of the first former players to reach out and did so by sending a basket filled with all things Pitt.
From there, the pair remained connected to the extent of asking her join a zoom session with fellow alumni, but also with multiple players on the current roster.
Hearing her speak from a point guard’s perspective led him to believe she had the qualities to become a successful coach.
Kiesel was appreciative for the opportunity to be a positive influence towards the current team and expressed gratitude that as an alum her advice and input would be considered.
Upon completion of the season, White spoke to Kiesel as a mentor to let her know how to get into the coaching business, but things soon changed when assistant Bridgette Mitchell was named Northeastern’s head coach.
All of a sudden there was a vacancy on White’s staff and he picked up the phone to call Kiesel.
“Bri was one of the first names I had thought of,” he said. “We went through a lot of different candidates, who had different qualities, but I kept coming back to Bri. Her love for this university, love for Pitt and the quality of basketball she played was at the very highest level. We have great experience on my staff right now and having someone the kids could look up to on a day-to-day basis that has walked in their shoes and is exactly what they have to become is the most important thing I thought we needed for our program right now.”
Describing the interview process, Kiesel believed it to be easier because that history was there, which limited the pressure and nerves.
“She has a calm confidence about her that is so rare,” White said. “She makes you believe, holds you accountable and understands what it takes to be great. She took this university to an NCAA Tournament, which is something our kids have to do. I am excited for her to mold these young kids into warriors. Bri has a warrior mentality that will challenge them every day.”
Now that Kiesel is Pitt’s newest assistant, it comes with a variety of new challenges for someone who has traveled the world for six years.
For starters, she will now have an office, which will be different, though it provides an opportunity for her to decorate.
Otherwise, Kiesel will need to develop relationships for recruiting, breakdown film both of Pitt and its opponents and help in the scouting processes.
“That’s my M.O though, I’ve always been a go getter from being a player, person, student and now as a coach,” she said. “I want to make sure that everything I do is to the best of my ability. I’m willing to learn and with my ability to want to learn and be better will be better for everyone.”
For starters White will get Kiesel where she is comfortable, working with the players on the court. Pitt has three players who White considers point guards in Dayshanette Harris, Emy Hayford and Sandrine Clesca.
As she gets her feet wet, Kiesel will continue to learn and grow, now joining associate head coach Terri Mitchell and assistant coach Josh Petersen.
By no means has any of this sunk in for Kiesel, but by all means, she views this as a dream fulfilled.
“In my heart of hearts, I always knew that I wanted to be an assistant coach, or be around in the game at some point,” said Kiesel. “Now just coming off being a pro athlete, it’s going to be a little different. I am excited about the change and look at the court from the outside and not inside, which I had been for 10 years straight. Just to see the different viewpoint as an assistant coach I am excited for.”