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Now in his 36th year as head coach of the Villanova women's basketball program, Harry Perretta has established himself as one of the most respected and knowledgeable coaches in the country. A true teacher both on and off the court, Perretta strives to have a positive influence on his student-athletes not only as basketball players, but also as people.
Perretta led Villanova to its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance last year by guiding the Wildcats to a 21-11 overall record. This was the team's 11th postseason appearance in the last 14 years and the 21 wins represents the 15th 20-win season for Perretta and the Wildcats. Villanova also went 4-0 in the Philadelphia Big Five last year to claim the program's 14th City Series title under Perretta's tutelage. Also, last season, he guided senior forward Laura Sweeney to second team All-Big East honors.
The 2011-12 season was a milestone year for Perretta. On Nov. 12, 2011, he earned his 600th career victory with a 76-47 victory at Iona. By reaching this milestone, Perretta became the 35th coach in the history of women's basketball at any level to reach the 600-win plateau, including the 22nd Division I coach to accomplish the feat. He is also just the seventh Division I coach to win 600 games at one school.
Entering the 2013-14 season, Perretta ranks 23rd on the winningest active collegiate coaching list with a 638-404 career record. The 638 victories rank him as the all-time winningest coach in the history of Villanova basketball for both men and women.
His second milestone of the 2011-12 season came at DePaul on Feb. 8 when Perretta coached in his 1,000th career game, becoming just the seventh coach in the history of NCAA women's basketball at any level to coach 1,000 games at the same school.
Perretta led the 2011-12 team to a 19-15 overall record and bid to the WNIT. In the WNIT, the Wildcats defeated American and Illinois State before falling at Colorado in the third round. Villanova tallied a 4-0 mark in the Philadelphia Big Five to capture the program's 13th City Series title. For his efforts, Perretta earned Big Five Coach of the Year accolades.
During the 2008-09 season, Perretta led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in his Villanova career. This marked the ninth postseason appearance in the previous 10 years for the Wildcats. After playing in the 2000 WNIT, Villanova went to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 2001-2004 before playing in the WNIT in 2005, 2006 and 2008. Picked to finish 10th in the pre-season Big East Conference coaches poll, the Wildcats tallied a 10-6 league mark and finished tied for fourth in the conference standings. For his efforts in 2008-09, Perretta was named the Big East Conference Co-Coach of the Year. This is the third time in his career that he has garnered Big East Coach of the Year distinction.
Under Perretta's tutelage in 2008-09, senior forward Laura Kurz was a unanimous first team All-Big East selection, in addition to being named the Big East Co-Most Improved Player. Kurz finished her senior campaign averaging 17.4 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per contest. She was also named the Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Year.
Perretta registered his 14th career 20-win season in 2005-06 by leading the Wildcats to a 21-11 record. This was the fifth time in six years that Perretta led his team to a 20-win campaign. Also, in 2005-06, Perretta coached senior forward Liad Suez-Karni to first team All-Big East accolades.
In 2004-05, Perretta became the 26th Division I women's basketball head coach to win 500 games when the Wildcats defeated Pittsburgh, 70-49, on February 2. Villanova finished the season with a 19-12 overall record and qualified for the postseason with a WNIT berth.
One year earlier in 2003-04, Perretta led his team to a fourth-straight 20-win campaign and a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth where the Wildcats advanced to the second round. Perretta also coached his squad to a second-straight Philadelphia Big Five title in 2003-04. For his efforts, he was named Big Five Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.
The 2002-03 season was a special one for Perretta and the Wildcats. In addition to an impressive 28-6 overall record and a 12-4 Big East Conference mark, Perretta led the Wildcats to their third Big East Conference Tournament championship and first since 1987 with an improbable 52-48 upset over previously unbeaten Connecticut. The win snapped Connecticut's then NCAA Division I women's basketball record of 70-straight victories and ended Connecticut's streak of nine-straight conference tournament championships.
The 28 wins recorded in 2002-03 is the second most victories in school history. Villanova was rewarded for its season by earning a No. 2 seed in the 2002-03 NCAA Tournament which is the highest seed ever for a Philadelphia area women's basketball team. In the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats recorded wins over St. Francis (Pa.), George Washington and Colorado and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in the program's history. Also, during the 2002-03 season, Villanova went 4-0 in the Philadelphia Big Five to capture the City Series championship and he was named the Big Five Coach of the Year. Under Perretta's guidance, senior guard Trish Juhline led the Big East in scoring and garnered first team All-Big East acclaim for the second-straight year, while senior forward Katie Davis was named second team All-Big East and junior guard/forward Courtney Mix was a Big East Honorable Mention Team selection. In addition, Juhline was named the Big East Tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
In 2001-02, Perretta guided Villanova to a 20-11 mark and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA's, Villanova received the No. 9 seed in the west region where they defeated Pepperdine in the first round before losing to No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the second round. Perretta helped Juhline become the first Wildcat since 1994-95 to be named first team All-Big East. Perretta was also instrumental in helping senior point guard Mimi Riley earn Big East Honorable Mention acclaim in 2001-02
The 2000-01 season was a memorable one for Perretta, as he led his team to a 22-9 overall record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament where they advanced to the second round. In a 60-55 win over Temple on Dec. 2, 2000, Perretta won his 400th career game and with the 61-45 victory over Providence on Feb. 24, 2001, he became the all-time winningest coach in the history of Villanova basketball for both men and women with career win number 414. For his efforts in 2000-01, Perretta was named the Philadelphia Big Five Co-Coach of the Year. Also that season, Perretta coached senior center Brandi Barnes to third team All-Big East distinction and Juhline garnered Big East Honorable Mention acclaim. In the Philadelphia Big Five, Mix was named Rookie of the Year.
In 1995-96, Perretta led his team to a 21-7 record and added to his already impressive resume when he earned Big East Coach of the Year honors along with the Philadelphia Big Five Coach-of-the-Year award. Already the winningest coach in Villanova women's basketball history, on January 8, 1995 against the Georgetown Hoyas, Perretta earned his 300th career win at the age of 39.
The dean of the Big East and Big 5 coaches, Perretta has brought the Wildcats national respect and success during his tenure at Villanova. Always a crowd favorite wherever he goes, he is one of the most animated and vocal coaches in the country, continually instructing his players during the course of a game. Year-in and year-out, his teams are feared for their aggressive play, disciplined style, defensive prowess and pre-game preparations of an opponent.
A teacher of basketball, Perretta also realizes the importance of the overall college experience. He and his staff follow closely each player's academic progress, and in his 36 years at Villanova, 99 percent of the student-athletes who has stayed all four years has received her degree. Perretta is also a firm believer of using the basketball experience to teach his players lessons on life. Upon graduation, it is a sure bet that Perretta's players will leave Villanova as better basketball players, in addition to being prepared to be a success in whatever career avenue they choose.
During his career on the Main Line, he has led the Wildcats to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, six WNIT berths, national rankings in the Associated Press poll, Big East regular season and tournament championships in both 1985-86 and 1986-87, the 2003 Big East Tournament title, 10 outright and four shared Big 5 titles, and fifteen 20-win or better seasons. In addition, one of his players, Shelly Pennefather, was recognized in 1987 as the nation's top women's basketball player, winning the Margaret Wade Trophy and earning Kodak All-America honors.
Perretta began his career on the Main Line in 1978 at the age of 22, the youngest coach ever to head a women's program at Villanova. In his first season, he led the 'Cats to a 17-8 record and was a finalist for the AIAW small college coach of the year. During his career, Perretta and the Wildcats have had many highlights, including reaching the Final Four of the AIAW in 1982. The 1982-83 season saw Villanova begin play in NCAA Division I and in the Big East Conference. Since joining the Big East in 1982, Perretta has compiled a 206-185 conference record.
Perretta attended Lycoming College after earning All-Catholic League honors at Monsignor Bonner High School in Upper Darby, Pa. His playing career was cut short, however, by an ankle injury during his freshman year at Lycoming. Perretta spent the remainder of his college years assisting Lycoming's varsity and junior varsity programs as a coach, and he also aided the women's program. He received his bachelor's degree in social studies and a secondary teaching certificate in 1978. In 1995, he earned his Master's Degree in Education from Villanova.
Perretta is married to the former Helen Koskinen and they are the parents of a 15-year old son, Stephen William and a 13-year old son Michael John. Together, they reside in Drexel Hill, Pa.