Pitt Coach Jeff Capel Now Realizing The Scarring Left From Last Season

Players have told him about how difficult last season was

Matt Koll
December 06, 2018 - 11:20 am
Jeff Capel

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- An 8-24 overall and 0-18 conference season can't be fun to go through. 

First year Pitt head coach Jeff Capel has heard about it from his returning players and is now realizing the kind of impact it had on them. He shared that with The Fan Morning Show during his weekly hit on Thursday at 9 am. 

"I didn't really realize how scarred our returing guys are, that played last year, from what they went through last year," said Capel. "I've heard stories now that I didn't know, but I've heard these guys talk about how difficult it was and go into detail about people coming to games with paper bags over their heads."

"So I think what's happened is we've had success and even [in] our one loss to Iowa (prior to Niagara), if you just listen to the stuff around, it's almost like we won. The only difference is that the mark goes on the right side, in the loss column. But everything else, stuff that was written, stuff that these guys hear, and as much as we try to get them to not pay attention to it or listen, they hear, they see, they read what's on social media."

In turn, Capel said the early praise may have gotten to his players' heads and let them down a bad path toward the Niagara loss on Monday. 

"I think Monday against Niagara was human nature. And I thought human nature got the best of us. I thought we started to believe a little bit some of the things that were written, some of the things that have been said, and I thought we started to feel like you know what, we are really good."

"The message that I told them afterwards is that we are...pretty good. And we can be pretty good, when we do those things that we've done the first eight games. We were out of character. And we couldn't get back in character. And that's the thing for me that was the most disappointing. Not the loss, but it's the manner in which we lost." 

Capel said when freshman guard Xavier Johnson's potential game-winning lay-up did not go in, he chuckled because as much as he wanted to win the game, he felt like Pitt didn't deserve to win that game. He doesn't think the message would have been as clear to his team that they can't play like that and expect to win games moving forward if they would have snuck out with a win. 

Capel and his Pitt team now look toward the basketball version of the "Backyard Brawl" against West Virginia taking place this Saturday at noon in Morgantown. The first-year coach is eager to be a part of the rivalry for the first time. 

"I've heard about the Backyard Brawl and it what it means and what it means to the community, what it means to the fans, what it means to each university. I'm excited about it. I'm excited to experience it for the first time just like I was excited to experience the City Game," said Capel. "I don't know how excited I'm going to be on Saturday at noon when you're facing that defense, when you're facing that size and that athleticism and how relentless they are, especially on the offensive glass."

Capel called West Virginia a good team but one that is still trying to find its identity after losing players from last year's team and had particulary high praise for  Jevon Carter. Capel also has much respect for WVU head coach Bob Huggins and told of his history with him. 

"I've always been a fan of 'Huggs.' Him as a coach [and] he's a really, really good guy. I coached against him my first year at Oklahoma, he was at Kansas State. Then, I think my second year at OU we played at West Virginia, I think that was his first year. So I know how rabid it is, I don't how it's going to be for this rivalry but I know the passion they have for their team." 

Capel and his young son also took a trip to Cleveland Wednesday night for the Cavaliers-Warriors game and got to hang out with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and others, including some recent Duke graduates that have made it onto NBA rosters like Quinn Cook and Rodney Hood.      

You can listen to the entire interview with Pitt head basketball coach Jeff Capel on The Fan Morning Show below. 



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