ShareThis Page
Plenty of action on and off the court Saturday at the Pete |

Plenty of action on and off the court Saturday at the Pete

Jerry DiPaola
Pittsburgh’s Jared Wilson-Frame (4) goes up for a shot as Louisville’s Akoy Agau (0) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The game will matter Saturday when Pitt tries to stop its eight-game losing streak while tangling with Virginia Tech at Petersen Events Center.

But what’s going on at the edge of the court, especially what’s running through the heads of three coveted visiting recruits, might matter just as much.

Pitt is entering the final six regular-season games of coach Jeff Capel’s first year on the job. Here are three thoughts to keep in mind before and during the game.

1. Capel’s big week.

Capel received good news from recruits Gerald Drumgoole and Karim Coulibaly, who pledged to enroll in time for the 2019-20 season.

But the reconstruction project requires several new faces, and Pitt is serving as host to 6-foot-11, 215-pound prospect Ibrahima Diallo of Prolific Prep in Napa Valley, Calif. Plus, class of 2020 twins Julian and Justin Champagnie, are visiting. They are 6-7 and 6-6 small forwards from Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The twins are intriguing but not as much as Diallo’s size. Diallo potentially could join the 6-8 Coulibaly next season to give Capel the presence in the paint he lacks and desperately needs.

Before Capel arrived, Pitt’s previous three recruiting classes produced little in the way of star players, and that trend must end.

But the class of 2017 did bring Jared Wilson-Frame to Pitt. Don’t sell Kevin Stallings’ best recruit short.

Wilson-Frame is second in the ACC in 3-point field goals per game (2.8) and ninth in 3-point percentage (39.2). He has 32 3s in the past eight games. Along with Xavier Johnson, he is Pitt’s best hope to upset the Hokies.

2. Another ranked foe.

No. 22 Virginia Tech (19-5, 8-4) is Pitt’s seventh ranked opponent this season (1-5).

The Hokies are well-coached by Buzz Williams, who, apparently, makes a big deal of sharing the basketball. Virginia Tech had 20 assists on 25 field goals Wednesday in a 76-68 victory against Georgia Tech, the third time the Hokies have assisted on at least 80 percent of their made shots.

3. A couple of big-timers

Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17.3 points per game) and Pitt’s Xavier Johnson (16.6) are seventh and ninth in scoring in the ACC. Alexander-Walker has 27 assists in the past six games, so he will be the focus of Pitt’s defense.

Johnson needs 20 points to break Charles Smith’s 34-year-old freshman scoring record. Johnson has 416 points and eight games with 20 or more points.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pitt
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.