Pitt hoops showcase new faces in Blue-Gold Scrimmage

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Pitt hoops showcase new faces in Blue-Gold Scrimmage

Damon Wilson goes for a shot at the Blue vs. Gold scrimmage on Sunday.  Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Damon Wilson goes for a shot at the Blue vs. Gold scrimmage on Sunday. Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Damon Wilson goes for a shot at the Blue vs. Gold scrimmage on Sunday. Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Damon Wilson goes for a shot at the Blue vs. Gold scrimmage on Sunday. Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

By Chris Puzia / Assistant Sports Editor

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Though he hasn’t appeared in an official contest yet for the Pitt men’s basketball team, Alonzo Nelson-Adoda can check one accomplishment off his season list: make a game-winning shot.

With seconds left in Pitt’s Blue-Gold Scrimmage event on Sunday, Nelson-Adoda’s side trailed by one point as he tried to find an open teammate for the win. Senior point guard James Robinson started to slip, before he snuck a pass deep to Nelson-Adoda, who laid the ball in as time expired to give the gold squad a 57-56 win.

Sunday’s Fan Fest and Blue-Gold Scrimmage at the Petersen Events Center featured Pitt women’s and men’s basketball teams playing intrasquad exhibition games to showcase the teams to fans and test out the hardwood.

Despite the practice run, both head coaches, Suzie McConnell-Serio and Jamie Dixon, said their rotations are far from complete.

The women’s team, with its five new freshmen, competed first in two 10-minute halves, starting at 2 p.m. McConnell-Serio said she wanted to try several different rotations because she has not settled on a final starting squad.

“I haven’t fallen in love with one lineup yet,” McConnell-Serio said. “At this point in the season, it’s unusual.”

For the women’s blue team, sophomores Stasha Carey and Aysia Bugg started, along with junior Fred Potvin, freshman Kauai Bradley and redshirt junior Destinie Gibbs.

Freshmen Cassidy Walsh, Kalista Walters and Brenna Wise started for gold, along with sophomore Yacine Diop and redshirt junior Brittany Gordon.

McConnell-Serio said the freshmen all played well, but pointed to Wise specifically for her Sunday performance.

“She’s going to be really good,” McConnell-Serio said. “Brenna was a force inside. She makes plays and makes things happen.”

With no seniors on the team, McConnell-Serio said the young group will have to rely on each other.

“We’re still at a stage where players can earn the opportunity to play in an eight or nine-person rotation,” McConnell-Serio said. “On a different day, a different player steps up. We’re working on our combinations.”

The gold team won the first half of play, 16-13, before McConnell-Serio switched the lineups for the second half, which the gold team also won, 17-14.

“The toughest team that you play against should be your own,” she said. “There’s no better team to scout and know like your own teammates. The players know each other and their strengths and weaknesses.”

Yacine Diop goes for a layup at Sunday's Blue vs. Gold Scrimmage.  Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Yacine Diop goes for a layup at Sunday’s Blue vs. Gold Scrimmage. Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

The men’s team laced up next at 3 p.m. for its scrimmage, made up of two 16-minute halves.

Robinson led the gold team, which consisted of graduate student transfers Sterling Smith and Nelson-Adoda, junior Michael Young and redshirt freshman Cameron Johnson.

Freshman Damon Wilson took the point for blue, along with sophomore Ryan Luther and juniors Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter and Jonathan Milligan.

The men’s game featured fast-paced, up-tempo offense, as both teams raced up and down the court on transition to start. Johnson hit two quick 3-pointers and Young put in a couple of transition layups.

A combined 545 pounds matched up in the post when Rafael Maia and Rozelle Nix briefly faced off. Each only played 15 of the game’s 32 total minutes.

Dixon said the rotation of big men played well, especially in the transition style of the game.

“Those six guys all did some good things,” Dixon said. “Rozelle has shown some improvement, he didn’t seem to suffer in transition today, didn’t seem to hurt us in transition defense.”

Nelson-Adoda said the variation will help the team mix and match lineups during games.

“The good thing about having so many big men is the versatility,” Nelson-Adoda said. “With big Rozelle, you have size and strength, same with Rafael. With Mike Young and Sheldon, they’re really quick. With me, it’s athleticism and versatility.”

The blue team finished the first half leading 37-32. Milligan led all players in scoring with 14 points in the half, including three 3-point baskets.

“[Milligan] has a knack of getting to the basket and getting fouls,” Dixon said. “But he’s one of those guys that has to show he can guard and guard at a high level.”

Young made his biggest play of the day with a post-up spin move that he turned into a dunk late in the game. He turned around and grinned at assistant coach Brandin Knight, who coached the opposing team.

“Mike obviously got going in the second half,” Dixon said. “He had some nice baskets.”

Young paced the scoring with 18 points, followed by Robinson with 17.

The women’s team opens up its schedule at home on Nov. 13 against Wagner. The men’s team will travel to Okinawa, Japan, for a Nov. 13, season opener against Gonzaga.

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