With Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announcing changes this week to his COVID-19 mitigation policies, Pitt will be opening its 2020-21 basketball season in front of an empty house at Petersen Events Center.
After the players, coaches, TV crews, trainers, media personnel and the players’ families, there isn’t going to be any room for fans in the venue’s 500-person maximum capacity.
At least for the now, the Oakland Zoo will sit empty.
That’s a blow for the students, who have made a significant impact in the culture of college basketball over the years with their notoriously rowdy student section.
But it’s also a blow for a Pitt team that at least last year, played a lot better in front of a full house than they did an empty crowd.
This season, they’ll have to create their own energy on the floor, and it’s been a focus for the team throughout practice in the lead-up to the 2020-21 season.
“We have to feed off each other’s energy,” junior wing Au’Diese Toney said Tuesday. “We have to start practice as soon as you walk in practice, you’ve got to feel the energy, because the gym’s gonna be empty. So we’ve got to lift your own team up, you got to bring your own energy to the gym.”
PITT VS. ST. FRANCIS
HOW TO WATCH
TV: AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh and other ACC regional sports networks
Streaming: ACC Network Extra (out of Pittsburgh market)
Radio: 93.7 The Fan and Pitt Radio Network
Satellite radio: Sirius/XM 383
All-time series: 29-0 Pitt
Last meeting: Pitt 71, St. Francis 34, Dec. 21, 2011