Dunlap: Capel Sure To Bring Excitement

New Pitt coach will create buzz

Colin Dunlap
November 07, 2018 - 12:52 pm

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

You knew this would be the result on Tuesday night, right? 

You knew Pitt would pay Youngstown State a shade under $90,000, bring them down to The Pete and send them back home on that short Turnpike drive with a loss and a nice paycheck.

It all happened that way.

Just the way it was supposed to. It was picture perfect in that regard. Here's your check and your food now who is the next team we are supposed to beat by 20? 

That's how it works in the land of big time college basketball at this time of year, when teams in conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference find a few squads from Rent-A-Victim conferences and invite them over to their place for a sandwich, a game and (hopefully) a beatdown. 

And so it was: Pitt 69, YSU 53. 

But that ain't what I watched for. The final score, to be blunt, was pretty much insignificant. I was far more into style than the formalities of the final tally.

You know what I saw? Something I liked. Something I very, very, very much liked. It wasn't just in comparison to what Pitt offered last season when they didn't win a conference game and became the butt of jokes by going 8-24. No, that wasn't it. Last night as Pitt pushed past the Penguins, it looked to me like the style newly-minted Pitt coach Jeff Capel has brought to Oakland is one the fits the ACC. For the first time ever you could look out on that floor or at your TV set and say, "that's the way you are supposed to play in this league." 

No longer is this Pitt program going to be identified by a bullish, brash and (try to) push you around style that failed miserably under former coach Kevin Stallings even as it thrived for coaches before him who played in the Big East. Oh no, what I saw --- and granted it was one game against Youngstown --- was a Pitt team that had a penchant for going up and down. One that wants to step out of the shadows of being one of the slowest teams in Division basketball and get up in the area of 75 possessions or so during a game. 

That is ACC basketball. 

Rip it and run. Get up and down the floor. Definitely play defense, but have an eye offensively for pushing the ball to the basket and attempting to score as opposed to waiting (many times too long) for the perfect shot to come.  

Look, I don't want to make too much about an early-November win against a team from the Horizon League in front of like 4,000 people. I'm not crazy. Surely, I'm not ready to put Pitt in the Final Four. Or even the NCAA Tournament. Or even say they will be .500. Or even win more than a few conference games. 

But what was noticeable was that Capel promised to play a different style. He promised to do this whole thing at a faster pace. He said that will give his program the best chance at success in the ACC. If the game against YSU was any indication, he's quickly implemented his system. Now it's just a matter of refining it and, most importantly, getting better players to play in it.  

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