Through its first seven games of the season, Pitt had seemingly avoided the coronavirus, going without a positive test within the program until head coach Jeff Capel tested positive on Dec. 19.
However, since then, the program has seen four games postponed, with only one rescheduled as of now.
“It is going to be a challenge, I think, for everyone that has had games postponed,” Capel said on Monday. “When you lay the schedules out and you look at them, it could be a challenge to make them all up. I think we have three games, I think it’s three that we have postponed, and we have a make-up date for one of them. Maybe four. Yeah, it is four. And we have a make-up date for one. And so it is going to be difficult. The league will try to do it, we will try to do it. I think every week you’re going to see who is available to play. I think there could be a shake-up every week, I think there could be some changes every week.”
Finding a date when both teams can make-up a game this late in the season will be an incredibly tough task, in large part due to the fact that the virus is still spreading throughout locker rooms across the entire conference, not just Pitt’s.
Just days after defeating Syracuse with a very shorthanded roster, Pitt was ready to take on a 6-3 Georgia Tech team. However, the virus had other plans. The game was postponed due to a positive test within the GT program and has not been rescheduled since.
“When I told them Saturday after we finished practice that the Georgia Tech game was going to be postponed, they were crushed,” he said. “I hurt for them. It is something they want to do, play, and we have played pretty well. That’s great, but going into these arenas with no fans, there is no energy. Like it’s just empty. And then every day awaiting test results, seeing who you can have in practice, can you practice, who’s going to be available, who can be available, it is not a lot of fun.”
In Pitt’s most recent game at Syracuse, it was without John Hugley, Nike Sibande, and Noah Collier all due to COVID-19 protocols. If Pitt were to play in that next game against Georgia Tech as originally scheduled, Capel said on Monday, they would not have had a full roster. However, with the Panthers’ next game coming against the Orange on Saturday Jan. 16, the Panthers will have more time in between games and will look to take on Jim Boeheim’s squad at full strength.
“It is what it is,” Capel said about playing the same team twice in a row. “It’s certainly something we did not envision, but it is what it is. It’s a long time between games, that’s something that I don’t like, not having competition. I know they will be better. Look, they led most of the game. They did some good things and they did some things that really made us not look good at times and hopefully we can be a little bit better, hopefully we can be a lot better than we were at Syracuse, but we know it is going to be an incredible challenge.”
The one game that has been rescheduled is Pitt’s matchup against Notre Dame, who is currently 3-7 and 0-4 in ACC play. That game, along with the game against Duke, was postponed due to COVID-19 within the Pitt program. The Panthers will now take on Notre Dame on Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. For now, Capel said, they are just trying their best to make games happen.
“For us, we follow whatever the doctors, our medical tells us that’s what we do,” he said. “If you have to play three games in a week and that’s what it takes and it works out medically with the testing and things like that, I am fine with that.”
Pitt will look to take down the Orange for the second straight time on Saturday, Jan. 16 with tipoff set for noon at Petersen Events Center.