Duke Coach Praises Capel, Return of Pitt Program

‘Pitt had a great brand that needed to be reignited and he’s done that’

Jeff Hathhorn
January 23, 2019 - 12:40 am

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 the Fan) – Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said before the game Tuesday night it would be “weird” facing Mike Krzyzewski and his alma mater, saying of the love he has for Coach K and the Duke program.  After a 79-64 win, Krzyzewski responded.

“We beat a good team tonight and a crowd that was ready,” Krzyzewski said.  “What a great atmosphere that is back, that is back at Pitt.” 

The crowd was fired up for the first ten minutes or so as the Panthers held a lead at the 13 minute mark of the first half, only to have second ranked Duke go on a 29-9 run to end the half.  But Krzyzewski said it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

“What they lack in depth and experience, they make up for in grit, togetherness and really tough play,” Krzyzewski said.  “Every game I watched, they played hard the whole time.  That is what I would expect from Jeff’s team.”

“One of the key things is they are together.  He and his staff have done a great job of building great comradery and belief in one another.  So they play as one.”

Capel’s start at Pitt has been a surprise to many, 12-7 overall and 2-4 in ACC play, both eclipsing last year’s totals by mid-January. 

A winner of five national championships, Coach K also rebuilt the Duke program when he arrived there 39 years ago.  Krzyzewski says Capel has always loved the City of Pittsburgh and that it’s a great fit for his former assistant and All-American, also for the fans here and the ACC.

“In the last seven years he’s been a part of us sustaining excellence,” Krzyzewski said.  “He knows it’s a day-to-day fight no matter what level if you want to be really good.  You all are lucky to have him and he’s lucky to be here.”

Coach K said he loves Capel and "he is part of our family and I’m part of his".  However there is a matter of business.

“It was tough before (the game) and now it’s tough after because one of us lost.  But I’d still rather have him lose.  I love him, but I love us a little bit more.”

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