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Jeff Capel Named Coach of the Week by ESPN



Pitt men’s basketball and head coach Jeff Capel had quite the week to bring January to a close. 

The Panthers secured two critical victories to their NCAA tournament hopes and broke away from a five-way tie for third place in ACC play. Pitt defeated Wake Forest and No. 20 Miami, both at home, to move into sole possession of third place. 

Pitt (15-7, 8-3 ACC) is knocking on the door of the AP Top 25, receiving nine votes in Monday’s latest update.

The team held off a surging Wake Forest team that outscored the Panthers 40-32 in the second half to win by two in the final seconds. The Miami win was even more impressive. In front of a sold-out crowd of 12,508 inside the Petersen Events Center. Pitt erased an 86-60 deficit in the final two and a half minutes to close on an 11-0 run in a game you had to be there to believe. 

For his efforts in guiding the program to a 2-0 stretch, Capel was named by ESPN Staff Writer Jeff Borzello as NCAA Coach of the Week

“A few months ago, it seemed like Capel’s days at Pitt might be numbered. He was on the coaching hot seat at the end of last season – his fourth consecutive campaign finishing below .500. Pitt was picked 14th in the 2022-23 preseason ACC poll in October, and then started the season with three losses in four games. Fast-forward 2 ½ months, and the Panthers are 15-7 overall, 8-3 in the ACC and third in the conference standings. They’re coming off arguably their most important week of the season, too, beating fellow ACC bubble team Wake Forest on Wednesday, then stunning Miami with a game-ending 11-0 run to win by three in the final minute. According to ESPN’s win probability, Pitt had a 4.9% chance to come out with a victory when Miami led by eight with 2:05 left. The Panthers now own wins over Virginia, Miami, North Carolina, NC State and Northwestern.” – Jeff Borzello, ESPN Staff Writer

Capel has powered the program back to national relevance and is held in high regard by former Pitt head coach Ben Howland, who was on hand Saturday as the Panthers honored the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Big East Championship team.  

“They’re very well coached,” Howland said. “Coach is doing an outstanding job in terms of getting them to all mesh together. Great schemes both offensively and defensively.”

Jamarius Burton forced a turnover by Miami guard Isaiah Wong, stealing the ball and driving to the basket as the Panthers took a one-point lead. Blake Hinson tipped in Burton’s missed layup to go ahead 69-68 with 26 seconds left. Burton recorded another steal during Miami’s next possession, but Greg Elliott stepped on the baseline while not able to run to give the Hurricanes another opportunity. Elliott made up for it on the ensuing inbound, stole the ball back, and connected on two free throws to seal the three-point win. 

“You’ve just gotta keep fighting,” Capel said after the Miami win. “If they hit a tough shot, don’t drop your head and whatever, just come back. There’s another fight that will probably happen within the next 30 seconds, and we have to win that one. If you carry the previous one over, then it’s going to affect you. We need to be present all the time, every play.”

Pitt faces North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 ACC) Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Chapel Hill. The Panthers defeated UNC at the Pete earlier this season 76-74 on Dec. 30.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

From my understanding, he never stepped over the line, which he clearly didn’t on review, the ball hit the line on his bounce pass. That was never made clear at the game (at least to the fans), but that’s my understanding of what happened.

1 year ago
Reply to  RonDon

Correct, it took the tv announcers a few looks before realizing that, but they eventually got it right. The ball hit the line. And thankfully Elliott made up for it with the steal. Great resiliency!

Eric Payne
Eric Payne
1 year ago

This is a great honor to Coach Capel, his assistants and the entire program. Those players believe and understand how important it is to compete the entire game and that attitude separates this team. The future road is tough, but this is ready to compete at a high level. H2P.

1 year ago

They have certainly bought into Coach Capel’s philosophy
Hinson: No one is taking a backseat. They’re all in for the ride and Coach is driving”
When you have that you can beat anybody!
I know that made Jeff feel good too… FINALLY!

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