The Oakland Zoo made sure to show for the Blue-Gold scrimmage at the Pete. Although, it was not packed like the usual showing in the Zoo, there was still a crowd of 2,312 fans to check out the 2013 Panthers.
Redshirt junior Cameron Wright and redshirt senior Lamar Patterson led the scoring for the Gold team with a game-high of 25 points each. The Gold team definitely won the free throw battle shooting 29-35 while the Blue fell short shooting just 15-18. But it was hard to overlook freshman Michael Young's performance with 16 of his own. Young was keeping up with his veteran teammates Wright and Patterson, and will be the player to look out for this season.
There's not much more time to wait to see what players like Young can do with the Panthers first exhibition game against UC-San Diego next Friday, October 25. Although, the scrimmage was more for fun, all the players took it as another opportunity to practice and improve their games.
"I have been working on my jump shot and they have me handling the ball a little bit more, which I made sure to focus on tonight," said Wright.
The 6-8, 245-pound freshman was able to run well and handle the ball well during the scrimmage, but Young knows he has a lot to prove in his first season. "As a freshman and being inexperienced, I don't think I have any design but to go out there play hard, play defense and be coachable," said Young.
Redshirt senior Talib Zanna is already impressed with the younger guys and is confident with how they are coming along, but the real test will be when ACC play starts on January 4 at NC State.
"We're trying to get the younger players ready for this season, because the ACC is such a good conference," said Zanna. "We have a lot to get used to, even the older guys with being in the ACC. We just have to keep grinding but I think we're in good shape especially with the freshman coming along and getting better every day."
Another freshman stand out, Jamel Artis racked up 13 of his own, going 5-for-5 from the floor and 1-for-1 from beyond the arc. Artis converted 100-percent of his shots, while Wright only made 50-percent and Patterson was just below at 45-percent.
Head coach Jamie Dixon took a break from coaching and watched his players from courtside with former head coach Ben Howland. Both were impressed with the fans that showed up to support the Panthers and the performance from both the Blue and Gold teams.
Pitt is predicted to finish sixth in the ACC conference, but again it will be a tough test for the Panthers. Howland has confidence in Dixon's team and the players he saw from last night's scrimmage.
"One thing Jamie is great at is that his team is always improving and the players in the program always improve," said Howland. "Wright has improved and Patterson I love to watch play. Patterson is very unselfish. This team is going to be fun to watch and for fans to see this year."
The Panthers will play again next Friday at the Petersen Events Center at 7 p.m. for an exhibition game against UC-San Diego.