Time to step up..

Hello again Zoo folk,

In daily business news, in order to get the info out to as many people as possible every email we send to students will now be on this blog so essentially any one who wants to read it can. Also, if you want to stay up to date on info for the team, injuries, pregame procedures, recruiting, stats, and of course badgering other teams, we’d definitely recommend following the twitter, @OaklandZoo. It’s the largest of any student section on twitter at over 6,000 followers.

Now to actual basketball, we realize the season has not gone quite as well as we had hoped so far in the Big East and in general. Right now the team is reeling bad. The best cure for that would be a solid win at home against Rutgers on Wednesday at 7 though. The Zoo was ranked the #2 student section in the country by ESPN’s Dana O’Neil and Eammon Brennan last month. It’s time we step up to that billing, and get this team started on the right track again. They’ve stepped up for us before, so it’s time to help them out where we can. That’s not just for their sake but to defend our house. It’s also the last game before Gameday comes, so it’ll be good to have a tuneup. Wednesday night at 7, be there.

Speaking of Gameday, the leaders will be meeting sometime this week to get the details hammered out of what the procedure of that Saturday will be. There is the actual “Gameday” event in the morning, then a women’s game, then they will actually clear out the Pete, and then the men’s game is at 9. Obviously there is some logistics to be worked out in terms of the line and when people get in. We’ll certainly inform you of all the info the week of. In the mean time, start making signs, get animal costumes, do whatever you have to to make Gameday special. If you have any Zoo-wide ideas for cheers or something, talk to the leaders at the Rutgers game (always behind the TV announcer’s table in the front row), tweet us @OaklandZoo, or email theOaklandZoo@gmail.com.

Enjoy your first full week of classes,

Zoo Leaders


Welcome to the Zoo, the only way out: losing.

 ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan and Dana O’Neil have decided to spend some time debating who the best college basketball student sections are in the country. You have some of the more well known, like those of Kansas, and Duke. You also have some of the lesser known one’s like Utah State and San Diego’s State’s “The Show” going for it.

So where does the Zoo rank in all this? We, biased as we may be, think we’re pretty damn good. There are only a handful of programs in the country that come with even a little bit of the pedigree of the Oakland Zoo.

To start, lets just go with the record at home. 154-13. For all of the talk about best student sections, winning record simply has to be considered. You can tweet Eamonn all you want, but you have to something to stand on of actual relevancy. So, 154-13 it is. That’s good enough for fifth best in percentage in the country over the last 9 seasons behind Kansas, Duke, Wisconsin and Gonzaga. Pitt has acquired that record playing in arguably the toughest conference in the country, the BIG EAST (they like it capitalized apparently). It’s only lost one game or less at home every year since 2007. Most schools in other conferences do not have to go against the likes of Syracuse, UConn, Georgetown, Nova, WVU, Louisville, and Marquette each and every year. Keep that in mind when you consider that record. Consider another record:

9-0 against top 5 teams. Think about that. No top 5 team has ever beaten Pitt at the Pete and the Oakland Zoo. It spawned the phrase “Where Top 5 Teams Go To Die”  . Heck, the phrase even has it’s own t shirt. The national champions that have been from the Big East in recent years (UConn 2004/11, Cuse ’03) all lost at the Zoo the year they won it. We did a post on all of the praise the Zoo was getting after Pitt’s win over Syracuse last year which seemed to coin that Top 5 phrase. You can view that here. This isn’t just us blowing smoke, the Zoo has been chronicled by every major national media outlet you can think of.
Here’s a few snippets.

“The Peterson Events Center is one of the toughest places to play in America for a visiting opponent” – Dave O’Brien, ESPN

“One of the great spectacles in all of college basketball…the Oakland Zoo”- Bill Raftery

“These fans are unbelievable. They’re rowdy, loud and proud. That’s the way you want your fans to be” – Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner.

“The students in the Oakland Zoo make the Peterson Events Center an absolutely brutal place to play” – Dan Daitchmen, Collegehoops.net

“The Panthers have become mission impossible for any visiting team in this gorgeous on-campus arena” – Dick Weiss, NY Daily News

“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.” – Gary Parrish, CBS Sports

“Pitt’s Peterson Events Center was voted the “Toughest Place to Play in the Big East” by an anonymous poll of of league players conducted by Sports Illustrated”- SI

This doesn’t even include the regular guests the Zoo and Peterson Events Center hosts. NFL players from the Steelers as well as Larry Fitzgerald are frequent guests at Pitt basketball games. Mark Cuban has been to several games.

Former Football Head Coach/Current Snake Todd Graham

A lot of student sections are famous for how they act when the game is going on. One thing most people don’t know about is the sheer amount of heckling that occurs before the game. Zoo members literally study their opponents, finding out things like their opponent’s mother’s names to mug shots to what classes they take at their respective universities. Zoo leaders carry white boards to spew words of discouragement at opposing players as well as to organize Zoo members into cheers. The heckling is so well known, the Wall Street Journal featured former Zoo President Dave Jedlicka talking about it:

“Opposition research has become a prerequisite. Pitt graduate student Dave Jedlicka, the president of the Zoo, proudly recounts how Pitt fans found personal pictures of West Virginia star Kevin Pittsnogle and his wife on Facebook and brandished them at a game in 2006. Mr. Pittsnogle missed all 12 of his shot attempts that day. “We’ve gotten really good about being witty and effective but not vulgar,” says Mr. Jedlicka. “I’ve only had to do two written apologies.”

In 2011, the Zoo started a radio partnership with Pitt’s WPTS student radio station to create “The Oakland Zoo Show”, a pregame show co-hosted with the Zoo leaders giving our thoughts on the upcoming match-up and to give people at home the experience of being in the Zoo. How many student sections have their own radio show? Also, in terms of numbers the Zoo only seats about 1250. The Pete was voted one of the top 10 loudest arenas by ESPN, and our student section is less than half of most in other big schools.

Eamonn layed out one part of his criteria that I think especially is relevant to the Zoo: impact.

When the Oakland Zoo was first founded about 10 years ago, the university actually fought it. It came up with it’s own “AeroZone” to fight it. The Zoo, however, gained more and more followers and prevailed. Today, the Pitt Athletic Department works hand and hand with us to make Pitt basketball the best experience possible for students and fans. They help us design our t shirts each year, and help us with any activities we have planned. The Zoo has become such a positive force for the university, it is even used as a recruiting tool for other sports, especially football. Starting NFL running back LeSean McCoy essentially committed to Pitt when he encountered the Oakland Zoo. When football head coach (now former, ugh) Todd Graham was first hired by the university, the first thing he did was buy a Zoo shirt and come talk to the Zoo at half time of a game. He consulted the Zoo leaders for how to improve the game day experience and relationship with players for football as well.

Hyper Elite’s With the Zoo’s logo

The Zoo has also gained recognition for some of the things it’s done not entirely related to basketball.  In 2006, the Oakland Zoo showed solidarity with the Duquesne University basketball team by wearing red ribbons to commemorate the five Duquesne basketball players who were shot earlier in the year. In 2008, the Oakland Zoo wore ribbons again, however this time it was for Pink the Pete. During the Pitt vs. UConn women’s game, the Oakland Zoo distributed pink ribbons to everyone in attendance to show support for breast cancer awareness. In 2010 against WVU, the Zoo wore red leis to raise awareness for heart health. In November of this year, stickers with the initials “S.L. were distributed in memory of former LaRoche coach Scott Lang, a dear friend of coach Jamie Dixon’s who died of a heart attack.

The impact of the Zoo is felt so strong, the players essentially give it a shout out everytime they put on their uniform. With the suggestion of head coach Jamie Dixon, the Zoo’s logo was incorporated into the Hyper Elite uniforms worn by the players. Not only that, but many of the players wear our shirt as they’re warming up before games. The announcement of our 2011-2012 Zoo T shirt logo accumulated over 3000 views the day it was released. Last but not least, close to 6000 people follow the @OaklandZoo account managed by current and former Zoo leaders, essentially being the central source for everything Pitt basketball related. It is the largest of any such group on twitter. The account gets everything from love from fans to hate tweets to shout outs from current and former players. It’s a force to be reckoned with in social media.

The one thing you can take from the Zoo is that it has grown along side Pitt basketball. Pitt’s rise to prominence is no coincidence, as the Zoo and the players have fed off each other for support. We feed off them, they feed off us. A decade old symbiotic relationship.  When Pitt players make the right play at the right time in the Oakland Zoo, there is simply no more intense atmosphere in the country.

The last thing we’ll say is a quote from a Zoo member, Allison Russell, said to us in an email:

I’m telling you, you’ll never see a student section with more heart than the Oakland Zoo. We take losses as hard as the players. We care about our players. We are consistent and we are a very large group. Even though I graduated I feel like I can still say we. I still wear my Oakland Zoo shirt during every game, even though I’m no longer in Pittsburgh. I know plenty of alumni who do the same. It’s not just a four-year club you join while you attend school. I’ll always consider myself a member of the Oakland Zoo.

i’ll simply leave you with some pictures and video:

I’d go to about 2:40 into the first video for the crowd reaction.

Introducing the 2011-2012 Oakland Zoo Logo

It’s been an exciting, yet long, offseason. But we’re here and happy to announce the release of the new logo for the Oakland Zoo for the 2011-2012 season. It was a collaborative effort between past Oakland Zoo leaders, current leaders, and the athletic department. The Pitt Athletic Department has been fantastic in the support they’ve given us as a student organization and fan group. They give us whatever we need, and help us whenever they can.

There was a little bit of trepidation going into this year’s design of the shirt. The 2010-2011 shirt was a huge hit, and very widely liked by many. Why change what works? As we thought about it, however, the feelings and moods of the Zoo change with each year. Each year’s Zoo is different, and the shirts have reflected that each year since the Zoo was formed. We decided to make the shirt reflect how deeply woven into Oakland Zoo is to the University of Pittsburgh. This is where we decided to use the school seal as inspiration. You’ll see different elements of the seal incorporated into the design. Enough story, here’s the front of the shirt:

We used elements of the seal like the wreath, ribbon, the fort, and tied them together to create the logo. We wanted to make the “Zoo” extremely clear and bold so you know exactly what we are. The lettering of the Zoo actually has the wooden pattern of a basketball court as its fill. The other idea was to make the shirt something you’d want to wear even if it wasn’t just the logo of the best student section n the country.
Now for the back:

The most common thing we heard about what people liked about last season’s shirt was the Cathedral. Why wouldn’t people love it? The Cathedral of Learning is so much a part of Pitt’s identity now. We knew it belonged on the shirt, but felt the original design was too different from our new front. We decided then to draw inspiration from the Hyper Elite jersey’s the players now wear. It’s a softer, cleaner look that we think goes better with our new design.

We hope everyone enjoys these new designs. We’ve very excited about them, and it was a a very cool experience  to go from 4 or 5 sketches on paper to a professional final logo. There’s already been word that the new t shirts are available in the Pitt shop. This season is fast approaching, and once again Pitt is in contention for a Big East title and run in the NCAA tournament. We look forward to seeing everybody at the Blue and Gold Game on Oct 22nd. This year will be a fun one in the Zoo as always, and we hope to see it packed every single game.

The Beginning

Think back to that feeling you had Saturday night when Pitt had finally lost. When the clock finally hit 0.0. After the craziest 2 seconds of college basketball in probably NCAA and Pitt history, this team’s run was done. It was over. Think about how terrible that felt. No New Orleans, no Houston, no Final Four. 1941 is still a terrible number to current Pitt fans.

Now take a breath. That is the worst it’s ever going to feel, most likely ever. You will probably never feel lower about this team. There are very few ways to lose that hurt more than the way we did Saturday night. I sat in silence for probably a half hour by myself with the TV still on soaking it in. It was kind of just a “Really?”. I didn’t really have any words for it. I let it soak in, though, and thought about it. A great season by a great team was over, albeit shorter than any of us would have wanted. I thought about Gilbert Brown, ending his career with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by a Pitt player. I thought about Nasir’s 16 pts, and his crucial baskets during that comeback run to open the 2nd half. All I started to think about was how sad I was that I would not get to see Brad, Gil, and Gary in a Pitt uniform ever again. Nick might come back for next year as he still has eligibility left. The “We want Rivers!” chants may yet live on to next year.

The fact is though is that all I can do as a fan and lover of this team is realize what have next year. It maybe cliche with “OH, we’ll get em next year!”. If there was ever a program to say that about, though, it’s this one. Two seasons ago, everyone including the fans doubted that this team could repeat the type of year they had. Everyone except Jamie and the team. They knew what they had. They know what they have now. The fact of the matter is this team has been to the tournament 10 straight seasons. They are a contender every single year. This team is making a top 3 finish in the BE a requirement, and a top 3 seed in the tournament a tradition.

Eventually this team will break through. I will not give up on them. I will be there in the Zoo at the blue/gold game and the opener. I’ll be there every single game I can. I will be as loud and supportive as I can, and do everything I can to give every this team every ounce of support I can. I’ll do this becaused the amount of great times and people I’ve met along the journey of this program is remarkable. This loss hurts bad, but how good did you feel in the Zoo or at home when Pitt was on that 19-0 run, and took down Cuse? Taking down Texas at the Garden? Or when Pitt went into Hoopieland and the Pavilion and pulled out victories without Gibbs when even we doubted they could? How about when we won the regular season at home on Senior Night? I’m not even going to talk about the ridiculous wins last year.

I know more great memories lie in store for next season, because I realize what we have and what we have coming in. Somebody is going to surprise us come next season from this team. It always happens. Somebody we had counted out or would literally become worried when they came into a game, the next year we’re wondering how we’ll ever get along with out them. Guys like Gary, or Nas becoming a flat out star this season. Gibbs inexplicably being even more ridiculous of a shooter than before. This team always figures things out, why do we tend to doubt them?

The fans have every year to win a championship. The players only have a limited time, and I feel terrible for our seniors. They worked hard enough to make it, and just came a little short. I’m sad I won’t get to see these guys in a Pitt uniform again. I was only a freshman when Levance, Sam, and DeJuan left. I was sad to see them go, but I feel like I’ve watched this class grow. To see the development and hard work you can only like them even more over the years. I know the Zoo loved this class, and this class loved the Zoo. We have possibly 5 guys coming in though. Khem Birch, Malcom Gilbert, Durand Johnson, Jaylen Bond, and John Johnson. All great players, and winners. Not to mention at least one is of those seemingly elusive “elite” talents that Pitt hasn’t ever seem to grab in Khem Birch.

That’s another class we’ll get to know and love, and it’s entirely possible they help bring the championship finally home to Pittsburgh. The way to know for sure is to support this team. It’ll be that much sweeter if they do it considering we all know exactly how hard it is to make it that far. There will be more losses in the regular season, and in the Big East Tournament. There will be more losses, possibly some heartbreaking, in the NCAA tournament. Oh, there will be losses. I think the best part about this program, though, is we know there will be big wins as well. Even more top 5 teams will come to die at the Pete and the Zoo. We will still go into other teams’ arenas, and pull out improbable wins. This team will rise through the ranks of college basketball, and keep its place amongst the most winning programs in the sport. How do I know all this? That’s all Pitt Basketball has done the last 10 years. We’ve fallen short in the tournament, yes. Eventually the ball will bounce our way, though. Eventually Pitt Basketball will stop making players like Scottie Reynolds famous. Eventually Pitt will make Pitt players famous. Pitt will be famous because of what it accomplished, and not what it failed to do. Pitt will do it. The college basketball world will..

Hail To Pitt.

Pitt 2011 Senior Class: Greatest Ever?

[EDIT:  Updated to reflect the final day of conference games.]

Senior day is always an emotional one.  Every player that passes through this program has left his own impact.  I am always sad to see each one bid farewell.

The home finale in 2009 might have been the most memorable ever.  That class was headed for an NCAA #1 seed, beat #1 UConn for the second time that day, and finished as the overall winningest class (112-31) in Pitt history.  Levance Fields is my favorite Panther of all-time.

As fun as that was, your 2011 senior class will likely be the greatest senior class in Pitt history.  Look at the numbers and tell me I’m wrong.

Big East Gauntlet:

In their four seasons, these seniors have collected a 53-19 conference record in the nation’s hardest conference.  The Panthers are tied with Louisville for first in that four-year period.  Pitt had won no more than 13 games before 2009, and this class might collect 15 twice.

In the 2007-08 season, Pitt finished a mere 7th (10-8) in the Big East after losing two starters to injury, and then won four games in four days to become Big East Tournament champions.  The class then followed that up with 2nd place finishes in 2008-09 (15-3) and 2009-10 (13-5).  Having already clinched at least a share of the 2010-11 regular season title, the finale against Villanova will decide it outright.

They had a winning record against 14 Big East teams, with at least one road win against all but Notre Dame and Louisville.

Conference Total
Pittsburgh 53 -19 110 -28
Syracuse 47 -25 104 -35
Louisville 53 -19 101 -36
WVU 45 -27 100 -40
Villanova 44 -28 98 -39
UConn 44 -28 94 -39
Notre Dame 46 -26 94 -40
Marquette 43 -29 90 -45
Georgetown 42 -30 88 -41

History’s Deepest Conference:

In 2010-11, Pitt has lost three conference games (by a total of 9 points) in a league where 11 teams are predicted to make the NCAA tournament.

In 1985, the Big East set a record by finishing 18-5 in the NCAA tournament.  With a possible 11 entrants this year, that win total could be matched.

Home Court Dominance:

The Pete has become famous for its home court advantage.  These seniors have tallied a 68-4 home record in their career, including a perfect 37-0 against non-conference foes.  Their record hosting ranked teams is 8-3, with an undefeated 6-0 against the AP top-5.

Pitt had at least one win against every opponent, and no more than one loss.

The class also picked up a win at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center in 2008, the final win ever in the Civic Arena in 2010, and the first win ever in the Consol Energy Center in 2011.  They finished 7-0 vs Duquesne and Robert Morris.

Kansas 71 -1 98.6%
Duke 65 -2 97.0%
Pitt 69 -4 94.5%
Memphis 73 -7 91.3%
Gonzaga 51 -5 91.1%
Wisconsin 61 -6 91.0%
MSU 56 -7 88.9%

Non-conference Excellence:

The seniors finished 48-4 in total against non-conference opponents.  They defeated #6 Duke at Madison Square Garden in 2008, won the Legends Classic tournament in Newark in 2009, lost to #3 Texas in the CBE Classic championship game in Kansas City in 2010, then avenged that loss a year later by beating Texas in the 2K Sports Coaches vs Cancer at Madison Square Garden.

Complete Season Success:

During each year, Pitt has tallied at least 25 total wins, 11 non-conference wins, 10 conference wins, and a NCAA first-round win, with no more than 10 losses.

Pitt tied the all-time best season record in 2009 at 31-5.  With 26 wins already this year, it is possible they can beat that mark.

The seniors have already moved into second place for career wins at 110-27.  They are also currently in second place behind the 2004-05 class in winning percentage at 80.3%.

They advanced to Pitt’s first modern Elite 8 in 2009 and are aspiring to make the Final Four for the first time since 1941.

Coaching Mastery:

While much of the credit for the four years of success goes to the players, it would not be possible without Jamie Dixon.  It is easy to forget that Jamie has the highest career Big East winning percentage, and is already in 7th place in career Big East wins.

He already broke the record for most wins in his first eight seasons, and doesn’t look like he is ready to stop.

His team was predicted 9th a year ago, and got them to 2nd and earned a NCAA #3 seed.  With roughly the same squad, they entered this season in the AP top-5 and are poised for the school’s second ever NCAA #1 seed.

Any Doubts?

It wouldn’t be Pittsburgh if we didn’t have doubters.  If anything is better than what this class has already accomplished in four years, it could be what they do this month.

Go ahead and doubt them, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Brad Wanamaker was a walking turnover in his freshman year.
Gary McGhee picked up three fouls in one second in his sophomore year.
Gilbert Brown was labeled a bipolar scorer in his junior year.

But now as seniors?  Go ahead and doubt them one more time.  They’ll get one more opportunity to prove you wrong.

Don’t be a chicken…in the KFC Yum! Center

Credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

I think all fans, in the past couple weeks, have talked about how much respect the Panthers have NOT received by the national media. Analysts have simply not been high on the Panthers. Call it an unfair remembrance of tournaments past, but analysts just don’t think this team will go far. This is expected for our team at this point, but are Pitt fans just as skeptical of this team? The Panthers have always done extremely well in the regular season,  bringing home wins that sometimes it had no business to win, but always seeming to fall in the tournament a little early than we all thought they should. With the Elite Eight run a few years ago combined with last season’s early exit, the football team falling flat on its face, and the Steelers losing the Super Bowl (yes, honestly) I have a feeling Panther fans don’t want to go all in. They’re scared to get fully behind this team because they don’t want to be let down again. They don’t want their hearts broken, and that’s very understandable. They pick all the things wrong with this team. A lot of them are legitimate concerns, and things to look out for around the tournament though.

I think we’re coming to a point, though, that we have to realize what this team is. This team has 6 wins against RPI top 25 teams. They’ve had only 1 loss on the road, and it was a buzzer beater at the electric Garden. They’ve gone into tough places like the Coliseum and the Pavilion and pulled out improbable wins. They have a great post player in Gary McGhee, the best all around player in the country (in my opinion) in Brad Wannamaker, the show-stopper in Gil Brown (who WILL show up when he’s called), the scrappy under-the-rim player in Nasir Robinson, and a go-to scorer and game changer in Ashton Gibbs. With quality guys like Travon, Lamar, Dante, and the JJ’s off the bench I think this team has all the components it needs.

The idea here is that I think if Pitt is able to go in to the Yum! Center (that hurts to type) and pull out a win, this team is legit. This team, in the truest sense of that word, is capable of great things. If this team pulls out this win, I think it tells us that this team is ready for greatness. It tells us that this team has won too many of too many different types of games to lose too early in the tournament. They’re adaptable and can win shootouts or grind it out with in-your-face kind of games. If they win this game, I think they are a lock for a #1 seed. If they win this game, I think it’s time for everyone in this school and in this city to get behind this team all the way, and BELIEVE that this team will accomplish great things. Fans have to believe this team can make it to Houston, and maybe do more. I think this team is better than the Elite Eight team. They’re not nearly as flashy or pretty, but damn can they win games. They’re much more diverse, and not nearly as vulnerable as that team was. That team relied on its Big 3, but if those guys weren’t doing well the team didn’t do well. This team doesn’t have a Big 3. Maybe as Brad said, it has a Big 7, just a bunch of really good guys.

Credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

And what if they lose this game? Maybe then we still have to figure some things out. To lose a game against a top-15 team on the road, in a place that will be rocking has no shame. We just won’t be quite as sure about this team. I think we learn much more about this team if we win than if we lose. Like I said, if Pitt wins, I think Pitt is it.

Hail to Pitt

Welcome back, Mountaineers.

WVU was up 7 pts with about 49 seconds left to go on a young Pitt team. Fans were starting to head to the exits at the Peterson Events Center. West Virginia was going to sweep the Panthers, the last thing anyone at Pitt wanted for the Backyard Brawl. The inexperience of the team sans Blair, Fields, and Young was starting to show. The Oakland Zoo was disappointed they couldn’t take down another top 5 team, especially WVU, at home. An Ashton Gibbs jumper though brought the game back into focus for the Panthers. Jamie Dixon called a time-out, and told his team “We’re going to win this game”, and laid out a plan for them to do that. How could they though? West Virginia had been in control the whole game. Travon Woodall, a redshirt freshman, made both of a set of free throws. With 32 seconds left, Tray hit a jumper to bring the game to 68-65 WVU. The crowd could smell this game was not over all of a sudden. 30 seconds left, they just need a stop. WVU inbounded the ball to Darryl Bryant, who had the ball stripped from him by Nasir Robinson. The ball was tumbling away out of bounds, until Brad Wannamaker did a pirouette on the edge of the line, one-handing the ball to Tray at the top of the key. Swing to Ashton Gibbs in front of the Panthers bench. He pulls up. The entire building is silent. Boom. Shot goes in. The building erupts. Tie game. WVU misses their chance to put the game away. We go to OT. What happened next can only be described as a battle. Pitt scored 10 pts in each of the 3 overtimes. West Virginia scored 10, 10, and 7. Pitt wins the game, capping off the longest game of the Brawl between Pitt and WVU ever. One of the best games ever at the Peterson Events Center.

That’s the beauty of the Backyard Brawl. It didn’t matter that West Virginia had won by 19 a few weeks earlier. Or that the Mountaineers were the #4 team in the country (and a future Final Four team). It was the idea that they came into our house, and simply could not take a win away from Pitt and the Zoo. It was just another example of that Pitt team refusing to give up eve when the game seemed lost. Even when fans had given up, and were heading to the exits, the Panthers stole the game back.

You know the beautiful part? That team is still here, largely the same guys with a few new faces. Gibbs is still shooting lights out. Gary is still making the paint his house on the defensive end. Nasir still somehow just getting scrappy points around the hoop, while Brad plays the best all around game of just about anyone in the country. And Gil? I still believe he’s got the show-stopper in him. He steps up for the big games, and I think he’s going to break out of the little rut he’s in. Guys like Dante, Travon, Lamar, Talib, an JJ coming off the bench make a huge impact. This team is angry with the way they played on Saturday to St. John’s, and now even more pissed off because they feel they aren’t getting respect. We talked about it on the Panther Panel yesterday, Pitt has never gotten the respect it deserves when compared to programs like Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina. I think this is the year Pitt can change that. Stomping WVU is just one more step to that road in April. I have a feeling its going to be a fun ride..

Hail To Pitt.