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Pitt Basketball

Jeff Capel Describes Playing For, Coaching With Mike Krzyzewski: “It Was Unbelievable”

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On Tuesday, Jeff Capel will be facing off against his former coach, the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, for the fourth and final time as an opposing coach.

Capel coached alongside ‘Coach K’ from 2011-18 on the Duke staff, winning a national championship together in 2015 and appearing in the NCAA Tournament each and every year together.

“As a coach, it was awesome,” Capel said on Monday, speaking about coaching next to Krzyzewski. “I never thought at 18 years old, that as I got older in my forties, that the guy that I chose to play for would become a friend, and that’s what it was. He was a mentor, he’s been all of those things, but there was a genuine and true friendship.”

13 March 2015: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski (center) with assistant coaches Jeff Capel (left) and Jon Scheyer (right). The Notre Dame Fighting Irish played the Duke University Blue Devils in an NCAA Division I Men’s basketball game at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina in the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game. Notre Dame won the game 74-64.

“To be able to see how he does things behind the scenes,” Capel continued. “There would be so many times that I was in a meeting, or a lot of times coach and I would end up together recruiting, whether its on a plane or in a car, and he would talk, he would talk about different things, and in my head I would think back like, wow, that makes sense now. This is what he did when I played, or this is what he said to me or what he said to a teammate, or what he did in the locker room, like, it makes sense. So you got to see it in a different light, you got to learn in a different way, different lessons when I worked for him compared to when I played.”

Since being hired at Pitt, Capel has gone 1-2 against Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils, with the one win coming at the Petersen Events Center in 2020. With that win, Capel, amongst a whole line of former Blue Devils in the profession, became the first former Duke player to beat Krzyzewski, as well as the second former Duke assistant coach to take him down.

In addition to coaching next to Krzyzewski, Capel also played for the legendary head coach at Duke from 1993-97, appearing in the national title game as a freshman and making two more NCAA Tournament appearances in his last two years of college ball.

“As a player, it was unbelievable,” Capel said about playing for ‘K’. “My four years at Duke were different. You play for a national championship as a freshman and come within a minute of winning the whole thing, and then the middle two years were very very difficult. My sophomore year, we were probably the worst team ever at Duke. You look at the record, especially the conference record. That was very difficult, when you’re under the microscope like that. Internet wasn’t as prevalent, so you didn’t have any message boards, social media, or stuff like that. There was talk radio, but it was newspapers. So, as a 19-20 year old, feeling that, things being said about us, things being said about me, it was very difficult, it was hard.”

“The thing that I was most proud of as a player, was what we were able to accomplish my senior year, my last year, and that was to win the ACC regular season,” Capel went on. “I was really proud of that. Besides graduating from Duke, that was the thing I was most proud of in my four years, even more so than being a starter in the Final Four in North Carolina, in Charlotte, as a freshman. What we were able to do, because we had a group of guys that believed in each other, that fought, that played our butts off for each other every day, and it turned into something incredibly special and relationships that have lasted since then.”

The all-time leader in wins by a head coach, Krzyzewski has won almost 1200 games in his career. He has led the Blue Devils to 35 NCAA Tournaments, 12 Final Fours, and five national championship victories.

The two coaches will face off for one last regular season matchup in the Krzyzewski-era on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Rob Radich
Rob Radich
3 months ago

It’s unfortunate that no coaching acumen rubbed off.

Jimbo Grimm
Jimbo Grimm
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

MBA? Ha, good one.

Mark Recker Loves His Husband
Mark Recker Loves His Husband
2 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo Grimm

Idiot? Ha, good one. Mrs. jumbo grinn! Lick the fat!

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo Grimm

LOSER!

Jimbo Grimm
Jimbo Grimm
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

Thanks for confirming that Rob Radich & Mark Recker Loves His Husband are the same person. Since you’ve now posted racist & homophobic content do you still plan on falsely claiming that you earned a MBA from Pitt?

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago

Isn’t ironic that Capel was part of Duke’s worst team under Coach K as a player!

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago

A little ‘Capel Jeopardy”
A: Niagara, St Francis, UMBC, McNeese, and The Citadel
Q: Name 5 horrific programs to smack Pitt under Capel.

Jimbo Grimm
Jimbo Grimm
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

Ha! You don’t even know how Jeopardy is played.

March Madness

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