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Jeff Capel Discusses Florida State Defense, Offensive Adjustments



Pitt receives a second chance at defeating one of the three teams that took down the Panthers in conference play. Tied for first place in the ACC, the Panthers (17-7, 10-3 ACC) play on the road Saturday in Tallahassee against Florida State (8-17, 6-8).

The Seminoles won 71-64 at the Petersen Events Center on Jan. 21 as Darin Green scored a game-high 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting including five threes. Pitt and Florida State have moved in opposite directions since the previous meeting.

FSU has lost four of its last five games including a 76-67 defeat hosting Syracuse Wednesday, dropping to tied for 10th in the conference standings, while the  Panthers have not lost since.

Pitt tackled Wake Forest (81-79), Miami (71-68), North Carolina (65-64), and Louisville (91-57), have won seven of its last 10, and slot in a three-way tie for first with No. 8 Virginia and Clemson. Head coach Jeff Capel reflected on areas the Panthers need to improve upon.

“Our transition defense needs to be a lot better,” Capel said. “Our individual one-on-one defense, keeping them out of the paint, that has to be a lot better than it was the last time. We have to have consistent ball movement. I thought we did the first six minutes of the game and the first six, seven minutes of the second half. After that, I thought we became a little bit stagnant. We have to be consistent on the offensive end on moving the basketball.”

Pitt ranks four in the ACC in points allowed per game (67.5) while FSU sits second to last in the conference (75.3). Capel has seen advancements in the Panthers’ play since the Florida State loss and identified the challenge in facing a Leonard Hamilton-led defense.

“Their defense is a little different from the standpoint of they switch everything,” Capel said. 

“You know you’re going to see length, athleticism, size, pressure. It’s a team you can’t run a particular offense against… They take you out of your plays the way that they defend.”

The Seminoles have experienced a plethora of injuries including the loss of forward Cam’Ron Fletcher (10.8 ppg) in December and graduate student Jaylan Gainey to a knee injury before the season. 

“They don’t have the depth that they normally have. They normally play 11-12 guys. They’re not doing that,” Capel said. “They have some guys that are like top 10 minutes played. I don’t think it’s been that way since I’ve been here. Scottie Barnes came off the bench.” 

Jamarius Burton paced the Panthers in points (20) and assists (5) in the earlier loss. Clemson and Virginia have tough challenges on their hands Saturday. The Tigers visit UNC and the Cavaliers host Duke in potential matchups to shake up the standings.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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