Pitt Basketball is one this schools shining achievements. Not really because of our athletes, but because of our fans. The Oakland Zoo is one of the country’s most impressive student fan sections. The newspaper silent treatment, the drunken jumping and the general enthusiasm create an environment where the Panthers can succeed. Though they often don’t. But this season, the Oakland Zoo may prove more important than in any season yet.
In response to the team’s surprisingly impressive 6-1 start, Pitt Basketball head coach, Kevin Stallings, isn’t holding his breath. With a tragic loss to Southern Methodist University and dangerously close, narrow victories over Marquette and Eastern Michigan, combined with Tuesday night’s nearly blown blow-out of Maryland, Stallings has every reason to believe the team needs more star power.
Sure, Pitt men’s basketball has Michael Young (who can actually dribble, shoot and play defense) but one top level player isn’t enough to get the Panthers into the tournament, or even into a winning season when you think about our ACC opponents this season. With games against Louisville, Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina all looming in the late season, Stallings is pulling out all the stops.
So, in a surprise, late-night press conference in the small hours of the morning on Wednesday, Stallings announced that Oakland Zoo members will now be encouraged to try out for the men’s basketball team.
“We have one of the best student sections in college sports,” Stallings noted, “And I think buried somewhere in that drunken passion for the game is a diamond in the ruff. An overweight dude with a man bun who has the natural ability to ball. And that’s why I’m now holding Oakland Zoo try outs.”
Hundreds of Pitt’s most avid student fans are already flooding to the Peterson Events Center in the hopes of walking from the stands onto the court with literally no prior basketball or athletic experience.
“Pretty much anybody can be a Division I athlete. How hard could it possibly be? I played church league basketball in middle school and we were intense. It’s probably like that but with a regulation net,” questioned one hopeful who wore a superman cape overtop a James Conner football jersey. His skepticism of college basketball’s rigors was shared by many in line to try out.
Pitt’s players have had mixed reactions to the news of open Oakland Zoo try outs. The starting five indicated that they’d like to see some more high caliber talent out on the court. They also don’t feel the try outs threaten their starting roles. But Pitt’s back-ups are terrified some Cinderella story will steal their spot on a Division I team.
However likely it is some Oakland Zoo member makes the team, one thing remains certain – the Pitt Panthers need more star power, or at the very least consistency, if they’re going to accomplish their goals this season.