Panthers Invade the Emerald Isle
By Joshua M. Patton
The green shores of Ireland, now part-time home to Noted Yinzer Ambassador Dan Rooney, will welcome the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team for a whirlwind tour of games and goodwill that will take them to Cork, Dublin, and Belfast. Dan Rooney might be the only one anticipating the arrival of the Panthers with any significant excitement. Basketball is an emerging sport in Ireland with only a few nationally televised games per year. Still, Pitt will be taking on an international consortium of assess to kick on the court.
The nature and tenor of the visit is touted as an exercise in goodwill and international athletic brotherhood, which in part it is. However one only has to read between the lines when head coach Jamie Dixon says that “from a basketball perspective, this is an outstanding opportunity for our team to get an early start on the season.” The Panthers will maintain a normal practice schedule in-between games, sightseeing, and events. However, they will face four Irish teams and should win handily. There greatest challenge follows, the dreaded Melbourne Tigers, a professional Australian team that has won championships in their home country. The six-game tour is then closed out in Dublin as they face the English National Team, formidable I’m sure, but not as cohesive a unit as Dixon hopes his Panthers will be.