ShareThis Page
Sports

Jeff Capel hopes Pitt can turn page quickly with ACC road game looming

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, 7:39 p.m.

Jeff Capel is no killjoy. He enjoyed Pitt’s victory against Louisville as much as his players, even remarking it was a fun game in which to coach.

But not long after he walked off the court and left the locker room celebration Wednesday night, he spoke with reporters about the importance of an even deeper investment coaches and players must make in the Pitt program.

“As that season goes on, you’re a marked man,” he said. “So you have to be sharper even more.”

The ACC season, relentless and unforgiving, is coming at the Panthers fast. Pitt (11-4, 1-1) will be back on the court less than three days after the overtime victory against Louisville, meeting No. 15 N.C. State (13-2, 1-1) at noon Saturday at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Two days after that, No. 13 Florida State (13-2, 1-1) will be at Petersen Events Center.

Capel grew up in the ACC as a player and coach, and he knows better than anyone how to survive. It requires checking a lot of boxes.

“Investing more time, studying, understanding (opponents’) tendencies, (getting enough) sleep, rest, hydration, eating (properly), extra work, taking care of your body, showing up to get treatment. All those things you have to do in this league,” Capel said.

He listed them like he has had a personal relationship with each one. Which, of course, he has.

“You can’t just show up and play. We have to teach them that,” he said. “It’s great that we have some willing listeners.”

Capel said great players become great mostly on their own, partially because NCAA rules limit how long coaches can be with their team.

“As coaches, we are only allowed to work with these guys four hours a day, eight hours a week before the season,” he said. “That’s not enough. If you want to be really good, you have to invest the time.

“I don’t believe coaches make players better. Coaches help players become better. The guys that become really good and become the best versions of who they can be are the guys who put in the work. That’s what we have to learn to do.”

Next up for the young Pitt players is their first taste of an ACC road game.

Of the nine players in Capel’s rotation, only Jared Wilson-Frame, Khameron Davis and Terrell Brown have played in a hostile ACC arena.

After practice Friday, one of the younger players sat down with Capel with a serious question. “Coach, how are road games in the ACC?” the player wanted to know.

Capel was honest with him.

“This will be a new experience,” he said he told the player. “We have to be tough. We have to be sharp. We have to be together, and we have to be connected.”

They also could, actually, be in a better position from a manpower perspective. Backup point guard Sidy N’Dir could return after missing four games with a leg injury. If N’Dir plays, he can help spell Xavier Johnson, who has averaged 32 minutes in his absence.

Like Pitt, N.C. State lost at home to North Carolina and will be eager to make amends. The Louisville game needs to be a distant memory for the Panthers.

“Just like North Carolina, we have to flush it, and we have to move on,” Capel said. “Just like we didn’t allow North Carolina, the sting of that loss, we didn’t carry that over to Louisville, we can’t carry over the joy that we felt to this game.

“It’s a new game.”

Get the latest news about Pitt basketball and all things Panthers athletics.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Louisville’s Dwayne Sutton (24) tries to control the ball as Pittsburgh’s Jared Wilson-Frame defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Louisville’s Dwayne Sutton (24) tries to control the ball as Pittsburgh’s Jared Wilson-Frame defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel shouts to his team as they play against Louisville during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel shouts to his team as they play against Louisville during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me