The energy coming out of the first few rows of the Pete is contagious, and I can’t help but smile when I think about how those two hours change normal college kids into the best group of basketball fans in this country. One of the things that’s truly surprising about the Zoo is how young they are- a funny article from 2002 talks about how the Zoo consisted of only 40 students, and how they had to ask for money from SGB in order to give away 450 golden shirts to show solidarity with the team. Even though the Zoo is only a few years old, and grew to this size so rapidly, we don’t act like other students sections across the country. We’re starting to develop our own traditions, our own chants- P-I, T-T,- and our own sense of self.
As for the basketball team itself, I would say right now I’m at a stage of reserved optimism. This is a team with a lot of potential, the key will be realizing that potential before the games against Oklahoma State, Duke, and Georgetown. Dejuan Blair is everything as advertised- great hands, an array of offensive moves, and a solid rebounder. He still has to work on his defense, as he has tended to get into foul trouble, but I think that is something he needs time to work on as he adjusts to the pace and skill set that the top basketball programs will throw at him. Freshmen like Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown will also have to settle into their respective places- they are both extraordinarily talented, and will develop their skill set over the course of the year. Sam Young really seems to have stepped up his game, especially with the way that Pitt is running the court more, and this theme will hopefully continue throughout the year, especially against smaller teams like Villanova and Louisville. Again, we’ll see how this plays out through the months of November and December, and by the new year we should have a much better idea of where this team is.