The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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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Wine is poured into a sink.
Beyond the brew, Pitt students share sober stories
By Nada Abdulaziz, Senior Staff Writer • February 20, 2024
Students discuss on, off-campus bar options
By Briana Bindus, Staff Writer • February 20, 2024
How Pitt men’s basketball can beat Wake Forest
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • February 19, 2024

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Wine is poured into a sink.
Beyond the brew, Pitt students share sober stories
By Nada Abdulaziz, Senior Staff Writer • February 20, 2024
Students discuss on, off-campus bar options
By Briana Bindus, Staff Writer • February 20, 2024
How Pitt men’s basketball can beat Wake Forest
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • February 19, 2024

Take Five | The Pitt News sports desk gives takes for the upcoming NBA season, the ongoing NFL season and more

Pittsburgh+Steelers+quarterback+Kenny+Pickett+warms+up+prior+to+an+NFL+football+game+against+the+Los+Angeles+Rams+Sunday%2C+Oct.+22%2C+in+Inglewood%2C+Calif.+
AP Photo/Gregory Bull
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Oct. 22, in Inglewood, Calif.

With fall sports in full swing and winter sports on the horizon, the end of October is a prime time for sports fans. From the return of the NBA to the middle of the NFL season, The Pitt News sports desk gives its takes on this action-packed time of year.

Milwaukee Bucks will win the NBA Finals next season // Nicolas Munera, Staff Writer 

With the NBA season starting this week, most fans believe that the reigning champion Denver Nuggets will win the finals for the second straight year. But the major contenders to win the East and battle the Nuggets for the championship are clearly the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks pulled off one of the biggest free agency moves in recent years this offseason, acquiring perennial All-Star point guard Damian Lillard in a three-team trade. The Bucks gave up All-Star Jrue Holiday, role player Grayson Allen and three first-round picks in the trade. 

Lillard is arguably a top-three point guard in the NBA, and his pairing with the two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will have opposing teams struggling to defend them. Picture it — Lillard basically has unlimited range, while Antetokounmpo is unstoppable in the post and in transition. 

Milwaukee will capitalize on Lillard’s extreme desire to win a championship. 

With a lineup of Lillard at point guard, Malik Beasley at shooting guard, Khris Middleton at small forward, Antetokounmpo at power forward and Brook Lopez at center, the Bucks are my top candidate to win the Eastern Conference and the Finals. 

The New York Jets need to play running back Israel Abanikanda more // Matthew Scabilloni, Staff Writer

Izzy Abanikanda, the man who tied for the most rushing touchdowns in college football last season with 20, has a total of zero snaps in the NFL this season. That has to change.

The Jets need to face the fact that they made a mistake this offseason by signing Dalvin Cook to a one-year $7 million deal to back up star running back Breece Hall. On the year, Cook has 39 rushing attempts for 108 yards and no touchdowns to show for. 

Coming off of the bye, the Jets need to give Abanikanda the reps that Cook has received. Abanikanda is a difference maker — he showed college football that last season by rushing for 320 yards and six touchdowns in a game against Virginia Tech.

The Jets drafted Abanikanda in the fifth round to make a difference for the Jets’ offense, but they have yet to give the former Pitt running back a chance.

Are the Steelers just getting lucky? // Morgan Filar, Staff Writer 

This past weekend, the Steelers started slow in the first quarter against the Rams and fell behind in the game. The offense looked lethargic, and the defense allowed the Rams to march down the field. Once again, they left themselves with a tough, uphill climb to victory. 

Then suddenly, after a few missed field goals and a huge interception by T.J. Watt, the tide turned. The offense started to put drives together and finished in the red zone for the first time all season. The defense put the Rams in no position to put any more points on the board. 

In typical Steelers fashion, the game was going down to the wire and ended with controversy. First, a questionable pass interference call that continued the Steelers’ drive. Then, quarterback Kenny Pickett got a lucky spot to move the chains. Thanks to the NFL’s wacky review rules, the Steelers somehow escaped with another one-score victory. 

Is this a sign that the Steelers just clutch up when the game is on the line? Looking at the season, an interception by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, a blown call by the officials and a costly decision by a coach gave the Steelers fortunate wins. Who knows what the future holds for this team if the lucky streak doesn’t continue? 

Bandwagon booing — when it’s justified, and when it’s not // Grace McNally, Staff Writer

Pitt fans are no strangers when it comes to voicing disapproval of their football team. Last year, former Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis faced jeering from fans over the duration of the season. Redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec faced similar treatment during his time as the Panthers’ signal caller this season. 

Coach Pat Narduzzi expressed disapproval of fans a few weeks ago.

 “We’re in Boo City,” Narduzzi said in a weekly news conference. “Boo City, PA.” 

Jurkovec eventually moved to tight end, and sophomore Christian Veilleux took over as quarterback in time for Pitt’s upset of No. 14 Louisville.

This leaves the question — should fans boo their players?

On one hand, jeering is sometimes important as it pressures coaches to change their strategy. For Pitt, this meant putting in Veilleux. But does this chase away players?

Slovis’ performance as quarterback did not deserve so much criticism from the stands. While Slovis’ time with Pitt doesn’t live up to former quarterback Kenny Pickett, he still led the Panthers to a 9-4 record. Now at an overall 2-5 record, Pitt sits at the bottom of the ACC. Fans should consider how bandwagon booing is often more detrimental for the overall team. 

Christian McCaffrey deserves recognition in the MVP conversation // Tommy O’Connor, Staff Writer 

It’s no secret the San Francisco 49ers are one of the top teams in the NFL, with superstar talent littered throughout the depth chart. This team is poised for another run at the Super Bowl in February. 

Christian McCaffrey is a superstar the league has never come across. His combination of speed, acceleration, vision and tackling-breaking ability is eye-opening at first glance. Then, witnessing his role within the highly productive San Francisco offense keeps fans watching. 

In an offense with two solid receivers, a top-five tight end, McCaffrey still leads the league in rushing yards and averages five yards per carry. He has scored a touchdown in 15 consecutive games — currently tying an NFL record. 

The 49ers have faced legitimate defenses in six games in Pittsburgh, Dallas and Cleveland, but Christian has continued to produce. He’s the most electric player on the field, and it appears the only defense that can stop him is his own team’s, as San Francisco led the league in rush defense last year.

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