Last Friday’s season opener against Gonzaga didn’t go exactly as Pitt wanted it too, but they are heading in the right direction. The Pitt Panthers played a solid first half of basketball against the 9th ranked team in the country and looked as if they were ready to hand out the first upset of the young college basketball season.
The Panthers opened with a starting lineup of James Robinson, Sterling Smith, Jamel Artis, Michael Young and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa. In one half of basketball, Michael Young led the Panthers with 11 points and looked like he is a man on a mission. Pitt played very big on defense and was very active, giving Gonzaga a hard time scoring points with the exception of their star player Kyle Wiltjer. Despite having trouble scoring over the past few seasons, the Panthers looked like they are poised for a change. Cameron Johnson came in off the bench and looked very comfortable from the three-point line. Him and Chris Jones combined for 12 points in the first half of play. The best part is, Pitt accomplished all of this with only 1 point from Jamel Artis, who will once again be one of their top scorers and most important players.
So how exactly did the game not go as planned for the Panthers? Well due to the heat and slippery court conditions at the Foster Field House on the island of Okinawa in Japan, the game was cancelled.
At the end of the first half, the officials and coaches agreed that the game needed to be cancelled due to the players slipping all over the court, even falling over at times. James Robinson suffered the worst of the conditions, as he was removed from the game when he slipped while back peddling. When his feet fell from under him, he hit his cheek off of the court so hard that he created a huge gash under his eye. And for the rest of the game, the pace slowed down as players were cautious of the quick movements they made. Players were sliding all around the court, making it look like they were on ice. They were dripping sweat that got all over the floor, and the staff mopping it all up seemed to get no time off. It was an interesting way for the season to start, to say the least.
All in all, the game got cancelled with the Panthers up 37-35 at the half. All signs were pointing toward and exciting second half and a potential upset of one of the nations top ten teams. Although this game would not have meant much for Pitt in the long run, it would have been a solid resume builder for the tournament and would have given the Panthers the exposure they will need for later in the season.
Up next is the Panthers home opener, which will be tomorrow against St. Joesephs (Indiana) at 7:00pm.
Written By The Burgh Blog Writer Brandon Stiehler
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