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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Senior forward Blake Hinson (2) drives to the basket during Saturday evening’s game against Virginia Tech in the Petersen Events Center.
Column | Blake Hinson has pro potential
By Aidan Kasner, Staff Writer • February 29, 2024
Women’s History Month event roundup
By Ryleigh Lord, News Editor • February 29, 2024

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Senior forward Blake Hinson (2) drives to the basket during Saturday evening’s game against Virginia Tech in the Petersen Events Center.
Column | Blake Hinson has pro potential
By Aidan Kasner, Staff Writer • February 29, 2024
Women’s History Month event roundup
By Ryleigh Lord, News Editor • February 29, 2024

Feature | Pitt men’s basketball prepares to repeat their success from last season

Junior+forward+Blake+Hinson+%282%29+sits+on+the+ground+after+making+a+three-pointer+against+Boston+College+as+the+rest+of+the+team+celebrates+on+Feb.+14.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Junior forward Blake Hinson (2) sits on the ground after making a three-pointer against Boston College as the rest of the team celebrates on Feb. 14.

Coming off of a turnaround season, Pitt men’s basketball head coach Jeff Capel and his squad hope to continue their success from last year, in which they won two NCAA tournament games. After the departure of four of their starters, the Panthers plan on continuing a culture of success here in Pittsburgh. 

Team age plummets, quality doesn’t

After strutting out a starting lineup older than that of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Panthers will use a starting lineup that features first-year guards Jaland Lowe and Carlton Carrington. Capel is not worried about this change and shared much praise for the incoming guards. 

“They’ve been around basketball their whole lives, they’ve been in gyms their whole life,” Capel said in a media press conference.

Capel emphasized the effort that the new guards have put in, calling them “gym rats.” Capel’s confidence in the guards is partially due to his faith in the veterans of the squad’s ability to act as leaders and role models for the newcomers. 

The Panthers are ready to make another big splash

Following a season where the Panthers were projected to finish No. 14 in the ACC and finished No. 5, the expectations from within the team are much higher this season. While internally they are motivated to succeed and perform at the highest level, senior forward Blake Hinson expressed that they are still overlooked.

“It got to me that we were predicted 13th in the ACC somewhere,” Hinson said.

Hinson showed last season that he is one of the most energetic and emotional players on the team, and it proved obvious that this projection had riled him up. Hinson made sure that everyone knows his feelings about the Panthers. 

“Honestly, I feel like we are the best team in the ACC,” Hinson said. 

Following a season where the Panthers momentarily occupied the top of the conference, Hinson and the rest of the team have set their sights at a high level once again. 

Their biggest challengers in the ACC are Duke, led by second-year head coach John Scheyer, and Virginia, led by head coach Tony Bennett. While fans know this team can hold their own, these two teams will prove a big test for the young Panthers. 

The Panthers promise an energetic, strong return to the Pete

One factor that had a large impact on the Panthers success last year was the support from the fans. The Oakland Zoo, Pitt’s basketball student section, routinely filled up and caused burdens for many visiting teams. When asked about returning to the Petersen Events Center, Hinson responded with a statement that would define the press conference.

“I always try and go as hard as I possibly can for the students, this city, my team

and my coaches,” Hinson said. “This last season is definitely going to be for them.”

Coming into his final season at the collegiate level, Hinson made sure to stress the importance of this season for everyone involved. He looks to create more moments that get the arena loud like it was when he was making long-range three-point shots last year. 

Pitt’s schedule drastically improves

After having a schedule last year that lined Pitt up with three of their strongest opponents over winter break, the Panthers now face most of their high-level opponents while students are on campus. While their nonconference schedule is not the most difficult, the Panthers face one of the most tough and simultaneously exciting Januaries in the program’s history. They begin the month taking on North Carolina at home. Then come Louisville, Duke twice and Syracuse — all before Jan. 21. One of the Duke matchups, as well as the Syracuse game, will occur at the Pete, so fans are treated to an exciting month of Pitt basketball. 

While the Panthers lost many integral pieces to their successful season last year, they made a substantial effort to replace them. Additionally, the culture of success and competition carried over into this year’s campaign. The Panthers promise to bring yet another exciting season to the Petersen Events Center and across the country. 

About the Contributor
Ari Meyer, Staff Writer