We’ve now all had a few days of normal life after the game on Monday night. And what a game it was. I’ve been coming to games since my freshman year (I’m now a junior), but really got into it last year. I was there for Louisville, WVU 3-OT, Providence. I have friends that went to the UConn and Marquette games in 2009.
Monday night was the best I’ve ever seen the Oakland Zoo. To start off, I went down to the Pete around 11:30 to see what the line was like. The first part of the line was already full. By 2:30, it was to the glass doors. They let the students in around 5. I was in the Pete before the majority of the students were, and it was a flood when they did come in.
The students were lined up in front of the building by 4:45 and when they opened the door for them they came sprinting in screaming. The ESPN cameras were there to film them of course but it wasn’t that fake “oh my we’re on ESPN lets act like banshees” type entusiasm. No, these kids were ready for ball.
The whole lower section filled within 10 minutes easily. When the Syracuse players came out, there was a line of easily 40 kids ragging on them for the entire time of warm-ups. From the time that “All I Do Is Win” came on, the energy in the building was ridiculous.
By the time DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” started pounding, with the students rocking like they were at an actual show and following the chorus’ instructions to a tee, I half expected the Oakland Zoo to part down the middle and Ludacris to appear and drop his verse. It was electric. Spine tingling.
They of course welcomed Syracuse the same wonderful way they welcome any team to the Pete:
(if you want a more accurate depiction of how loud it was, I like this video better.)
The game started with that 19-0 run. It was so loud I could’t even hear a word my friend was saying. It was like Ashton Gibbs hitting the Providence 3, again, and again. The whole building was on its feet, and it was sheer insanity.
Every time Pitt made a run to stop the Orange from pulling ahead, you could literally feel the fans willing the team to win. Pitt Football Head Coach Todd Graham even joined the Zoo for a while. My ears were literally ringing by the end of the night. They felt like I had spent the night in the front row of a metal concert. People were noticing how crazy things were getting. If you have free time, do a search for Oakland Zoo on Twitter. The tweets vary from compliments of the Zoo, to people asking where the hell we got the name from, to people wondering if the Oakland Zoo has animals.
These are some of the ones I thought stuck out:
@jhawkins826: “Smh(shaking my head). These guys are shook. The Oakland Zoo is def up there as one of the rowdier venues.”
@DocHancock:”seeing the oakland zoo on television is why i love college basketball so much. all those gold shirts creating a backdrop. real intimidating”
@JohnTCpsu: “Wow the Oakland Zoo is insane. And that says A LOT coming from me.”
@MikeLefko(a Syracuse student sportscaster):”The Oakland Zoo puts the Carrier Dome to shame”, “Students on three sides of the court, the noise is unbelievable and all encompassing”
@ChrisONeill91:”Cameramen and ESPN staff were just handed out earbuds, thanks to the #OaklandZoo”
@Mainedixon: “We the Zoo we look better than Duke fans RT @MsMaya88: PITT fans looking like Duke fans lol I love it”
@Eurotone:“I CAN FEEL THIS ENERGY AND MOMENTUM 10 THOUSAND MILES AWAY BAAAABYY!!!!!!”
Most of these are Cuse/PSU fans. Only three are from Pitt fans, and of those three, two of them are former Pitt players. Pitt was putting on a show for the country, and people were noticing.
The national media was noticing, some like CBS’s Gary Parrish offering their own explanations for why Syracuse lost
Why did Syracuse lose to Pitt at the Pete?
Because Syracuse played Pitt at the Pete.
That’s the bottom line. You play Pitt at the Pete, you lose. You’re better off challenging Johnny to a fiddle-playing contest in Georgia.
“The Zoo really helps us out a lot,” Pitt forward Gilbert Brown said in reference to the famed student section at the Pete after helping the Panthers to a 74-66 win in front of a record crowd of 12,925. “There is a reason why we’re so tough to play at home.”
Whatever the roster, regardless of the circumstances, when you enter the Petersen Events Center with a top five ranking you exit with a loss. No exceptions.
But trying to beat the Panthers at the Pete is among the great challenges in all of college basketball.
Or, according to Dana O’Neil from ESPN, maybe the loss isn’t so bad considering the circumstances:
Indeed the Orange leave Pittsburgh with little to hang their heads about. This is the place where top-5 teams come to die — Pitt is 9-0 against top-5 opponents since the Zoo opened nine years ago — and Syracuse would have been hard pressed even if it could have had Carmelo Anthony in uniform.
The Oakland Zoo took a huge step towards being THE student section to be in the country on Monday night. However, we can’t let this be a one game performance. Every game, whether its against USF, or a probable top 10 ‘Nova team down the line, has to have a packed, wild, ridiculous Oakland Zoo. We have to give our team every ounce of support we can. It is a very real possibility for Pitt to go undefeated at home this year (as it has a few times in the past). Is the team Final Four or National Championship caliber? We’ll find that out in March which is still a lot of games away. All I know is, we should treat them as such when they are in the Peterson Events Center. They feed off us, we feed off them. This is our house. Rest in Pete.This should become a very common phrase when teams leave our building. For the team to without a doubt know that everyone is pulling for them in this city will give them the motivation they need come tournament time. Maybe then, they can bring home another testament as to why Pittsburgh is called the City of Champions.