Take 5 | Pitt gymnastics looks to win EAGL, Hinson can lift Pitt men’s basketball to glory

By The Pitt News Staff

In this week’s Take 5, the Pitt News Sports Desk takes a look at Pitt gymnastics’ chances to win the EAGL in its final year in the conference, Blake Hinson’s role with Pitt men’s basketball and more.

Go and Win the EAGL Pitt Gymnastics // Alexander Ganias, Staff Writer

When Clemson announced that it added women’s gymnastics as a varsity sport for the 2023-24 academic year, the ACC then announced that it too will sponsor women’s gymnastics. As a result, Pitt, North Carolina and NC State will depart the East Atlantic Gymnastics League after this season ends. 

That means Pitt should have one goal going into the season — win the conference one more time.

Pitt has only won the EAGL once, in 2016. Last year it finished No. 4 in both the standings and in the tournament, but the Panthers have the pieces to go on a deep run. Sophomores Hailey Copperwheat and Sydney Washington had multiple standout performances in their first years of competition.

If one last EAGL opportunity wasn’t enough fodder for the season, Pitt will also host an NCAA gymnastics regional during the championships in March. Pitt wants to see ample representation on their home mats, and winning the conference is a surefire way to accomplish that.

Pitt wrestling won the EWL before leaving for the ACC — why can’t gymnastics do the same for the EAGL?

Look out for UCLA in the CFP // Brian Sherry, Staff Writer

The most intriguing conference in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings is undoubtedly the PAC-12. Amid rumors of major conference realignment, the PAC-12 revived itself this season. From Oregon and Utah, to USC and Washington, the conference boasts some of CFB’s most electric teams in 2022. But one team stands out among the pack — the UCLA Bruins. 

The Bruins are a historically awful program, failing to make a New Year’s Six bowl game since 1998. But UCLA is poised to make history this season. If the Bruins win out and win the PAC-12, then a spot in the CFP is within reach. But the Bruins face a tough schedule ahead, with a bout against cross-town rival No. 8 USC on the horizon. Still, don’t underestimate the Bruins come CFP selection day. 

Blake Hinson adds new dimension to Pitt Men’s Basketball // Zack Gibney, Senior Staff Writer

Entering the season, Pitt Basketball head coach Jeff Capel brought in a number of players who fans didn’t know what to expect from. All have promise, but it wasn’t crystal clear what they bring to the table this season.

One of those newcomers, Blake Hinson, emphatically displayed that he is here to contribute.

After transferring from Ole Miss, the forward landed at Iowa State, where he sat out for two seasons due to health issues. 

Hinson hasn’t played a game in nearly two years and immediately set career-highs in points with 27 and rebounds with 13 in his first game with Pitt.

The frontcourt was a major concern, with John Hugley missing time with an injury. But Hinson turned in one of the best performances in recent memory for the Panthers. Along with first-year forward Federiko Federiko, another newcomer, the starting frontcourt combined for 40 points and 20 rebounds.

With Hugley’s return, the duo of Hinson and Hugley are an extremely strong aspect of a new-look Panthers team. 

If all can stay healthy for a full season, look out.

Kenny Minchey’s early enrollment to Pitt is a huge deal for Pitt Football // David Scott, Staff Writer

Pitt Football will likely end the season with a winning record and a bowl game to play in. However, the regression after a championship winning season has caused some recruits to pull their commitments from the program. Incoming first-year Kenny Minchey did the opposite and locked into Pitt early.

This is a huge deal not only for the future of the program, but for recruits’ confidence in the system Pitt has in place. Minchey is a big time prospect — a four-star recruit and the No. 12 quarterback in the 2023 class. His confidence in the program should help reassure the other recruits who are committed to Pitt.

The recruitment season also isn’t over. During the win over Syracuse, Pitt hosted four-star 

receiver Jaylan Hornsby who came to visit because of the school’s good reputation. 

Seeing Minchey’s early enrollment is a sigh of relief for any Pitt fan and a good sign that the program is still heading in the right direction.

New era for the UFC middleweight division // Mason Carter, Staff Writer 

On Saturday night, one of the biggest UFC fights of the year will take place. Current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya takes on foe Alex Pereira for the belt. This fight presents a challenger that Adesanya has experience struggling with. 

Pereira sitting has a 6-1 record coming into this title fight, fresh off of defeating Sean Strickland in the 1st round at UFC 276. He only appeared in two other UFC matches before UFC 276, winning both. 

After three successful title defenses, Israel Adesanya is well in control of the middleweight division. Most people try to avoid Adesanya. He is a very complete fighter. Standing at 6-foot-4, Adesanya began his career as a kickboxer, developing elite striking skills. Paired with his offensive skills, he has height combined with speed and agility that makes him a tough target to hit. 

Before the UFC these two met twice in the kickboxing ring. In 2016 Pereira defeated Adesanya by unanimous decision while in 2017 he defeated him in the third round via knockout.

The No. 2 pound for pound fighter Adesanya is always the safe bet to make, but it’s hard to ignore the past. After Saturday, Pereira is the UFC middleweight champion.