The Pitt men’s basketball team is one of the best stories of the 2018-19 basketball season so far.
Jeff Capel and his young team have gotten the Pitt fan base excited about basketball once again. And sports fans in Pittsburgh aren’t the only ones noticing what’s going on in Oakland.
Give Jeff Capel credit. His Pitt team has now knocked off Louisville and Florida State at home and nearly beat NC State in Raleigh. Will be interesting to see what he can do with a couple of recruiting classes.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) January 15, 2019
It’s not getting as much attention as what Kermit Davis is doing in his first season at Ole Miss. But it should be noted that Jeff Capel inherited a Pitt program that finished 227th at KenPom last season — and he now has it No. 68 following wins over Louisville and Florida State.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) January 15, 2019
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 15, 2019
Another prominent voice that’s impressed with the job Capel has done is Jon Rothstein from CBS Sports, who had a few minutes to talk about Capel with Pittsburgh Sports Now.
“I think one of the things that’s not really getting a lot of attention is that Coach Capel didn’t just inherit a team that was winless in the ACC, he inherited a team that was winless in the ACC and lost several of their main contributors in Marcus Carr, Ryan Luther, Parker Stewart, who all transferred,” said Rothstein.
“So he had to fill those holes in with guys who, for the most part had never been a part of Pitt basketball before and the majority had never been a part of college basketball before. Not only are they filling the gaps, but they’re filling the gaps and at the same time succeeding in the best conference in the country. They’ve also beaten St. Louis, who was picked to win the Atlantic 10 and they nearly won at Iowa.
”I’m definitely surprised and it’s safe to say that Jeff Capel definitely has Pitt ahead of schedule.”
Teams in the ACC better beat Jeff Capel now before he gets a few recruiting classes under his belt. Tremendous growth this week for Pitt, even after today's close loss at NC State.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 12, 2019
“I don’t really think that this has also gotten enough attention, and if you look right now at the best recruiters in the country in the last five years you have to look at Jeff Capel,” said Rothstein. “When Duke kind of shifted to adopting a one and done type philosophy, it was Jeff Capel leading the charge. Think about some of the guys he was able to go get helped them win a National Title in 2015 and other guys like Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, etc. who came up a little short and Jeff Capel was at the center of those efforts. Nobody else can put their name on the caliber of recruit like Capel got when he was Duke. He’s obviously also doing a great job in that area at Pitt already with guys like Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson.”
While it not be to the caliber of what he was able to do at Duke, Rothstein believes that Capel will continue to recruit great at Pitt and it’s all because of Jeff Capel the person.
”The biggest thing about Jeff that I noticed covering him while at Oklahoma and as an assistant at Duke and now at Pitt, he has the ability to be real and the ability to connect with people,” said Rothstein. “When you’re visiting with him, when you’re talking with, him he’s not giving you something that’s fabricated. He’s being forthright, he’s being genuine and he’s allowing you to feel like you’re a part of a real conversation and you’re developing a real relationship.
“I think that’s resonating in the city of Pittsburgh where it’s a hard-working town, with real people that love their sports team. I think when you think of the chemical makeup and the marriage of Jeff Capel and Pitt, it’s a marriage that has a chance to be fruitful for a real long time.”