My friend, Terry, invited me to the Pitt vs. Louisville basketball game two weeks ago at the Petersen Events Center, and I was really excited.
First of all, the Panthers, who didn’t win a single game in the ACC during the 2017/2018 campaign, came into the night full of youth (even more youth than normal, since, you know, it’s college) and spirit. And based on the initial start to the 2018/2019 season, Pitt also came into the evening with better talent than a year ago. This was mostly the result of the Panthers some how, some way landing Jeff Capel as their new head coach. Capel is a disciple of Coach K (I’m not even going to try and look up the proper spelling of his name), the legendary Duke basketball coach.
Second of all, since the Pete (the nickname for the Petersen Events Center) is an indoor venue—I believe most if not all college basketball games are played indoors—I was really happy about being out of the elements, elements that were really, really cold, as evidenced by how cold it was walking to and from the Pete.
As you may or may not know, that second part—not being cold—is a very important thing for me. You know how they say football games—namely Steelers games—were meant to be played in the harsh elements? Yeah, I don’t subscribe to that theory, which is why I always have to think for a second or 10 whenever someone offers me a ticket to watch the black and gold in December or, heck, even a January playoff game (the playoff thing has never happened, but I’m wondering just how I’d respond to such an offer).
Anyway, the only thing that was cold inside the Pete was Pitt’s free throw shooting. Everything else was warm and toasty, including the Oakland Zoo, the Panthers official student cheering section, a section that never, ever sits (maybe during commercials) and seems to have a cheer and/or chant for everything. We were actually right behind the Zoo, and I must say, I enjoyed that and fed off of the energy provided by the cheers, chants and hand gestures (no, not the bad kind).
And you could see all of the action, action that included hustle, drive, determination and spirit. This isn’t to say the Steelers don’t show spirit when they play—as you know, lots of Steelers players celebrate touchdowns, and people hate that—it’s just that, well, they’re just so darn far away when you’re watching their spirit in the stands at Heinz Field.
And did I mention college basketball is played indoors, while professional football—at least the kind played in Pittsburgh—is played outdoors?
As for the game itself, the Panthers defeated Louisville in overtime and snapped their 0-23 streak in the ACC in the process.
To wrap this whole thing up in a nice little bow, if someone offered me a ticket to a regular season Panthers game right now, and someone else offered me a ticket to the Super Bowl, the first thing I’d ask is, “Where’s the Super Bowl being played?” If it’s not in a warm climate, I’m choosing the Pete.
And I don’t have to tell you what I’d choose if the Super Bowl was being played at Heinz Field.
That’s right, I said it.
Hail to Pitt!