Jeff Capel was disenchanted with how his second season as Pitt’s coach ended, with losses in seven of the final eight video games and dropping data general (16-17) and within the ACC (6-14).
It was particularly distressing as a result of he believed as late as Feb. Eight that Pitt was getting ready to a pleasant season.
“We took a soar final 12 months (from 14-19, 3-15 in 2018-19),” he mentioned throughout a break from getting ready for the 2020-21 season. “I believed we had an opportunity to take a leap, and what final 12 months confirmed is that we’re not prepared for that.
“Final 12 months, we have been shut, and we had a possibility and we didn’t benefit from it. We blew it. It’s a possibility for us to be taught and develop.”
Capel mentioned the group was at its finest when “everybody was simply targeted and locked in on successful and other people weren’t anxious about their particular person issues.”
Whereas gamers are caught at residence in the course of the coronavirus pandemic — not even in a position to shoot baskets, a lot much less spend a lot time engaged on their expertise — Capel and his employees have been rebuilding a roster that misplaced guards Trey McGowens and Ryan Murphy to switch. Plus, ahead Eric Hamilton, the third-leading rebounder, exhausted his eligibility.
Capel is happy about an incoming class of 5 freshmen (ranked 20th nationally by Rivals.com) and guard Ithiel Horton, who sat out final season after transferring from Delaware. He has three years of eligibility.
Plus, starters Xavier Johnson, Justin Champagnie and Au’Diese Toney and senior heart Terrell Brown are again, together with sophomores Karim Coulibaly and Gerald Drumgoole Jr., who averaged almost 10 minutes per sport final season.
Similar to any coach, Capel is happy about his recruiting class, however equally so in regards to the course of that introduced them to Pitt. He believes it reveals the style by which a program ought to be constructed, the way in which Capel realized to construct one throughout his 11 years at Duke as participant and assistant coach.
“It was a variety of laborious work and relationships we have been in a position to develop and set up and domesticate since we obtained right here (in 2018),” he mentioned. “After we obtained right here, we have been actually behind. I believe you noticed that play out in a few of the recruiting. We went after guys. We obtained some. We didn’t get some.
“On this specific class, the category of ‘20, there have been guys proper from the start after we obtained right here that we had recognized.”
Signing John Hugley, who stands 6-foot-Eight and 240 kilos; 6-10 Max Amadasun; 6-Eight Noah Collier; and 6-7 William Jeffress was the results of two years of intense recruiting, Capel mentioned.
The fifth freshman, 6-5 ahead Femi Odukale, “felt like this was residence,” Capel mentioned.
The important thing level: “We don’t want anyone man to be the savior, and I don’t need any of these guys considering that and nobody ought to assume that about them,” Capel mentioned.
With 12 scholarship gamers — six who performed final season — Capel sees his group sporting a unique look in his third season.
“We must always have extra high quality depth, extra measurement and athleticism,” he mentioned. “Hopefully, that results in with the ability to do some extra issues offensively and defensively.”
Pitt was restricted on offense final season due to its sketchy taking pictures skill. The Panthers have been 326th of 350 Division I faculties with a 40.four taking pictures proportion (14th within the ACC).
“We’ve been a driving group, a group that’s tried to get downhill,” he mentioned. “We have now not had anybody that may actually get us a straightforward basket, that you may throw the ball inside to and so they can get you a straightforward basket or get fouled.
“We expect we’ve an opportunity to have that this 12 months.”
To that finish, Horton would possibly present some long-range taking pictures to assist open the paint space. He hit 79 3-point area targets as a freshman at Delaware in 2018-19.
Capel mentioned working towards in opposition to Johnson, Toney and McGowens helped Horton develop.
“He offers us with one thing, to be fairly frank, that we’ve not had in our first two years right here: a man who can actually shoot the basketball and shoot with vary.”
Capel doesn’t know when he can name his gamers again to campus, however he hopes it’s quickly so he can start assembling the items of his puzzle.
“This was an enormous summer season for us so far as improvement,” he mentioned, “and now a few of that’s been hindered.”
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