Capel: Motivating Shouldn’t Be Necessary

Panthers open regular season Tuesday vs YSU

Josh Rowntree
November 06, 2018 - 8:00 am
Pitt men's basketball coach Jeff Capel at practice in 2018

Josh Rowntree - 93.7 The Fan

Jeff Capel has remained consistent. He does not want to talk about what happened with Pitt men’s basketball last season. 

An 0-17 ACC slate that led to the dismissal of Kevin Stallings and the hiring of Capel is not just in the rearview mirror. It is ancient history.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity and I’m excited,” Capel said Monday. “I’m excited for all the things I’ve been through in the past, good or bad. I’m a guy that believes that every experience is a learning experience.”

Learning is key for Capel, but also his players. The Panthers were picked last in the ACC, something that neither Capel, nor his players, were surprised by. 

Capel does not play on that when motivating his team. In fact, he does not feel that motivating is necessary.

Related: Jeff Capel: We Hope To Be A Lot Faster

“For anyone involved in our program, if we have to figure out ways to motivate, then that’s an issue,” Capel said. “We should have motivation on our own. I told our guys, it’s the biggest game because we’re playing.”

The Panthers open the season Tuesday night against Youngstown State at the Petersen Events Center.

“We know that we’ve got one job to do, and that’s to win,” said graduate transfer Sidy N’dir. “Take it one day at a time, win and get better. Last year was pretty tough for the guys, but it’s a new day.”

Capel is unconcerned with his team being flat against a perceived inferior opponent.

“I know what those kids and that coaching staff at Youngstown State are feeling,” Capel added. “I coached in a mid-major conference and, when we played against a power five team, we had a chip on our shoulder.”

Pitt has had an infusion of talent, young and old. N’dir comes from a successful New Mexico State program. Freshmen guards Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens and Au’Diese Toney could make immediate impacts. Another guard, Malik Ellison, who sat out last season after transferring from St. John’s, could be poised to be the Panthers’ top player. 

The first test comes Tuesday, however. This will be a smaller Pitt team, but one that will try to play with confidence and aggression at both ends of the floor, according to sophomore guard Khameron Davis. 

“The best way to get somebody on their heels is to attack them,” the said. “Aggression plays a huge part in that. You need to attack them offensive and defensively, to keep them on their toes.”

Capel’s new players appreciate the fact that last year’s shortcomings are not actively discussed. Everything is about looking forward now.

“Nobody loves to lose, everybody wants to win,” N’dir added. “So I don’t think we need motivating. We are all really putting our minds into it and we’re ready to come out like a cannon.”

Hear all of what Jeff Capel had to say below.

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