We Just Had To Win Another Round

Pitt coach Jeff Capel compares game to 11-round fight

Matt Koll
January 10, 2019 - 11:38 am
Ellison, McGowens, Johnson celebrate

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- As head coach Jeff Capel mentioned after the game, the Pitt basketball program hadn't won an ACC game in 672 days. That steak was snapped Wednesday night when the Panthers defeated Louisville 89-86 in overtime.

Capel joined The Fan Morning Show on Thursday to talk about the victory and his team's mindset heading into OT after allowing a double digit lead slip away.

"I did feel the dejection from our team. We had played so hard and for the majority of the game we had played really well, we had answered every run that [Louisville] had given us. We were in incredible foul trouble, had guys playing a lot of minutes. There was dejection, I could see it in our faces, so I jumped them real quick once I noticed that."

"I just said, 'We're OK, we're fine, we're going to win, it's just five more minutes now.' We talked about this game being a 10-round fight. It's four-minute games, four-minute stretches with the media timeouts. So it's five each half. We needed to win more of the rounds and we just thought, 'Look, we have another round now. We have to win this round.' 

"[Louisville] came right out, they hit a three. But I thought one of the biggest plays was Xavier (Johnson) the very next play coming back and him stepping up and making a three. From then, you could see the excitement and we were right back in it, we were able to get the lead the next possession and were able to hold on to it the rest of the game." 

Capel said that with a young team, the mental aspect of the game can be just as important as anything else. 

"The X's and O's won't work properly if guys aren't focused, if we don't have a positive attitude, a strong faith, if we don't have that in that moment. For us, we are trying to figure out how to win, we are trying to learn how to win. One of the things we talked about in preparation from this game since the North Carolina game, is that we have to invest more."

"People think of investment as money or resources but each person involved in our program, and it's everyone not just the players but the managers, obviously the coaches, the support staff, everyone has to invest more. This has to be a passion, this can't just be a job. In order to pull this thing out from where it is it's going to take a big-time commitment from everyone. That's one of the things I was really proud of is that we talked about that, we've seen it in practice and to see us come out and have success with that [in the game]." 

Of course in the ACC, the Panthers can't afford to rest in the Louisville win too much as they have #15 NC State on the road at noon on Saturday. 

"They're another team that's older and they've been one of the better teams in the country. That atmosphere there is really good. Obviously when they're good it's better. They're a little bit nasty with you which is exciting to play against to be honest with you." 

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

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