Pitt’s Jeff Capel: Collective effort necessary to end 6-game skid
The concept of team means a lot to Jeff Capel, and getting his young team to think that way is just one of the challenges the Pitt coach faces in the midst of a six-game losing streak.
“No one accomplishes anything that’s great or that’s really good by themselves,” Capel said Thursday morning on 93.7 FM.
Capel pointed to two moments in the 78-76 overtime loss at Wake Forest on Tuesday — he called the game a “gut punch” — where a collective effort might have helped change the outcome.
The first was while Pitt was trying to hang onto a two-point lead in the final seconds of regulation. After Pitt allowed Wake Forest (9-13, 2-8) to gather two offensive rebounds, Chaundree Brown missed a 3-point attempt — an air ball, actually. Jaylen Hoard grabbed it for a third offensive rebound and scored with a second left to force overtime.
Rebounding has been a problem for Pitt to that point 6-foot-6 freshman guard Au’Diese Toney leads the team with 5.8 per game. And he’s played only 24 minutes in the past three games because of a hand injury.
“We don’t have a guy we can point out and say every game, ‘This guy’s going to get 8-10 rebounds,’ ” Capel said. “We don’t have size. A lot of times, we don’t have elite athleticism.
“But what we can do is we can all block out. We can all put a body on someone, but we have to understand how important that is. We have to understand that we need each other.”
In overtime, Pitt took a three-point lead and set up Jared Wilson-Frame for an attempt that would have expanded it to six.
“We get a great look with our best shooter, and we miss,” Capel said.
That didn’t bother him. Wilson-Frame already had contributed five 3-pointers.
“We don’t run hard back in transition defense, and they get a 3 (to tie the game),” Capel said. “If we run back hard and we get our defense set, it negates that. They probably don’t get that, maybe they take a tougher shot and we have another possession to extend that lead.”
Capel has stressed to his players, almost from the day he was hired 11 months ago, the importance of a team effort.
“Serena Williams is one of the greatest athletes ever and it’s in an individual sport. She can’t do it by herself,” Capel said. “Whether it’s her trainer, or her coach, people who help out, take care of her daughter.”
The concept applies to basketball, he said.
““You have to understand it’s going to take this guy screening for me, or this guy cutting hard for me or this guy running to the spot so I have the space where I can drive,” Capel said. “This guy running hard in transition.
“That’s what I mean. You have to throw yourself into the team. What does the team need?”
The loss to Wake Forest dropped Pitt (12-11, 2-8) into a four-way tie for last place in the ACC. The Panthers play N.C. State (16-7, 4-6) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Petersen Events Center.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .