The mood surrounding Pitt basketball has changed drastically in the last few hours. The negative feeling and comments regarding the team’s lengthy coaching search mostly changed to positives when it was announced the hiring of Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel.
The hiring of the 43-year-old Capel has been received well by the media including Doug Gottlieb from Fox Sports. Following the official announcement, Pittsburgh Sports Now reached out to Gottlieb to get his reaction to the hiring of Capel.
PSN: What is your immediate reaction to the hiring of Jeff Capel?
Doug Gottlieb: I think it’s a pretty good hire. With Sean Miller probably being unavailable, they were kind of left in a weird spot, but they wanted someone with some head coaching experience and got that and they wanted someone who can recruit and definitely got that. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s the first black basketball coach in the history of Pitt. All these are very good things.
I think this is pretty impressive considering, I don’t know what number choice he was, because a few days ago it was like what in the world is Pitt doing. It seems like (Heather Lyke) ended up with a damn good hire.
PSN: Being someone that knows him very well, what is Jeff Capel’s biggest strength?
Doug Gottlieb: Duke’s recruiting changed when he got there. Ask anybody. People can say that Mike Krzyzewski just decided to recruit one-and-done players. He was always trying to recruit those players but started getting them with Jeff Capel. People thought that it was the end when they didn’t get Harrison Barnes. He looked and sounded like a Dukie but he went to Carolina and people thought that it was it. Ever since then, culminating in this year’s class, they’ve basically had the top classes in the country for the last three years.
Duke’s recruiting changed and I think Capel was a big reason why. Then there was the assumption that he was turning down Georgia Tech and Arizona State, he must know he’s getting the Duke job. Apparently, that wasn’t the case or this job and offer was too good to turn down.
His strength is definitely recruiting. Look, I thought they played hard at Oklahoma. He took his eyes off recruiting character and he recruited too much talent who had personal issues. I don’t think he handled it well, how he was treated by the media. I’m not sure the media treated him terribly fairly and he didn’t relate to the donors at times. It was hard for him playing second fiddle to football. I think there were a lot of other things that went wrong for him at Oklahoma.
But look, (Loyola-Chicago coach Porter) Moser is the perfect example that you can get fired and that doesn’t mean you can’t coach. Quinn Synder, he got fired and got Missouri on probation, had some personal issues but he’s a spectacular coach right now with the Utah Jazz. So, his weakness while at Oklahoma was the non-basketball stuff.
PSN: You mentioned recruiting is his strength but will it be that easy to recruit like he’s accustomed to with not recruiting the Duke name and history?
Doug Gottlieb: He recruited well when he was at Oklahoma and recruited well when he was at VCU. He’s his own man. Look, if I said he’s matured that sounds like an old man talking down to somebody. I think we all get older and learn from our success and from our mistakes. Look, he went back to Duke, he probably learned from some of the stuff in his past, he has a family now, he’s no doubt learned from all of this.
It’s obviously easier to recruit to Duke than anywhere outside of North Carolina but Pittsburgh has history, facilities, proximity to talent and support of the university and the fans. It will be easier to follow Kevin, who nobody liked, so immediately, if he smiles and is nice to people, everybody will love him because they didn’t love Kevin. Yeah, a good portion of his recruiting success is Duke, anybody can recruit at Duke, right? But you can also point to Duke’s peak in recruiting over the past five years or so and it coincides with Jeff.