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Love & Basketball - Cardiac Hill Adds a Writer

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A retelling of when I first realized that I loved Pitt basketball.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It's March 2, 2004, and the Pittsburgh Panthers men's basketball team is 34-0 at the Petersen Events Center over the last two years. I have enjoyed all 34 of those wins as my parents purchased season tickets when the 'Pete' opened a year ago.

But this night is different. My father forgot to get nachos, and I botched asking for my usual hot dog and coke. Compounding the matter, my father and I have forgotten to switch seats as we have every other home game. But the most unforgivable offense, the season ticket holders to our right have sold their seats to two Syracuse Orange fans.

If you've watched Pitt over the last decade, then you know how this story ends; they lost to Syracuse in overtime, 49-46. It was the first game they had ever lost at the 'Pete', and the first time I remember seeing my dad care so much about sports. The whole game is a blur now, except two distinct moments: A scoreless Gerry McNamara hitting the go-ahead three-pointer at the 3:54 mark in overtime, and my father yelling, "lay there," as Hakim Warrick appeared to hurt his ankle later in overtime.

The car ride home was pretty silent. Occasionally, my dad would yell something laced with profanity while I just stared out the window. It was at that moment that I realized...we loved the Panthers, maybe too much.

My name is Stephen Gertz, and while I no longer have season tickets, I've been following the program since the 2000-2001 season. I didn't attend the University of Pittsburgh, but I didn't attend a rival school either.

Going beyond the box score and the play-by-play is something I strive for in my writing. There are a lot of places that you can visit to get a general idea of what happened in the game. Personally, I hope to do write-ups that talk about the game within the game.

Are the frontcourt players hedging screens and finding their man afterwards? Are the defenders closing out hard on the three-point shooters? Are shooters getting to the corner on the weak side when a player drives baseline? Why did Nasir Robinson foul Matt Howard with only…*sigh* but I digress.

Pittsburgh certainly isn't a basketball town, but I hope I can convert a few of you. I am very appreciative of the opportunity that Anson has given me, and I hope to engage in discussion via comments and social media.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author @Stephen_Gertz