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Pitt Basketball

Jeff Capel Staying Focused as Pitt Earns National Attention



Jeff Capel before Pitt plays against North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023 in Chapel Hill. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now)

Jeff Capel’s Pitt Panthers have won five games in a row in ACC play and are on the verge of their first postseason appearance since 2016 with a few more wins.

In year five of the Capel era, the Panthers are receiving as much national attention as they have in his tenure, and when Monday’s AP Top 25 rankings come out, many believe that they will be ranked in the top 25. National analysts Jon Rothstein (No. 24) and Andy Katz (No. 24) have already included the Panthers in their rankings this week ahead of Pitt’s game against Boston College.

After the Panthers wins as well as after the Panthers’ losses, Capel has emphasized the program’s ‘move on to the next play’ mentality. On Monday, when asked about the potential of being ranked, he offered similar thoughts regarding how it will affect his team.

“I’m sure if it were to happen, there would be people that were excited about it, that are excited about it,” he said. “I’m sure it would be a cool thing, but it’s February 13th. We have a lot of season left. For me, and us, and our program, we’re just trying to lock in on Boston College. Trying to figure out how we’re going to defend them, and how we’re going to execute, and the things that we have to do in order to play well against them. That’s it, it really is. That’s all we are trying to concern ourselves with.”

Capel also spoke about his team’s ability to stay grounded after big wins — some of which have come on the road, and some at home this year. The Panthers have taken down teams such as Virginia, Miami, and North Carolina at home this year, as well as NC State and Northwestern on the road. His team hasn’t wavered, despite holding the program’s best record in years. When the national attention continues to roll in towards Pitt, Capel hopes that his team can keep the same mindset as it has all year.

“I hope so, that’s something that we haven’t dealt with,” he added. “So, my hope is, is, if that comes, that we handle i the right way. We have been able to handle some small successes here. We’ve had some big wins, and we’ve been able to move on to the next play. So that’s going to be important. Look, that’s why we have just tried to focus on us and not try to let, to allow these other things to seep into our program or to put pressure or to worry about those things. These guys that we have, they have been so locked in and focused on us and the guys in that locker room and the guys on our staff, and just trying to focus in on what we can control, and that’s us. Nothing else. And so that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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