Jeff Capel didn’t wish to make Pitt’s 79-73 win about himself. Capel performed for the Duke program below legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski. He coached below him as assistant for seven season previous to taking the Pitt job. Capel was 0-2 coming into Tuesday’s recreation in opposition to his former coach with losses in every of the earlier two seasons.
Capel obtained the higher of his coach on Tuesday. Pitt led practically wire to wire in opposition to Duke, and proved it may belong with the higher echelon of the ACC with an announcement win over the Blue Devils.
He grew to become simply the second former Duke assistant, becoming a member of Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, to ever put up a win over Krzyzewski and is the primary former Duke participant to notch a victory over the corridor of fame coach. It’s a massive deal, however the third-year Pitt coach didn’t see it that approach.
“I fear about our workforce and it’s massive for our program and it’s massive for our guys,” Capel informed reporters after the sport. “Clearly anytime as a program if you’re attempting to construct and attempting to take a subsequent step, anytime you possibly can beat one of many blue bloods, that’s massive. Look, you guys know me by now, none of these things is about me. I had my time once I performed, that is about these guys and attempting to ensure they’ve an unbelievable expertise.”
Pitt shined on Tuesday in entrance of a nationwide TV viewers. Pitt sophomore ahead Justin Champagnie performed like a celebrity with a 31-point outburst whereas additionally grabbing 14 rebounds and this system Capel is attempting to construct in Pittsburgh took a giant step ahead with the win over Duke.
Within the years enjoying for and training at Duke, Capel has picked up loads of classes. The Pitt coach typically talks about his workforce combating for 40 minutes, and in a recreation in opposition to his former boss, the Duke workforce fought, too.
Pitt raced out to a 15-point lead within the early phases of the second half. Duke, nonetheless, didn’t go away on Tuesday. The Blue Devils mounted a spirited comeback behind the play of freshman ahead Jalen Johnson, who was each bit as spectacular as Champagnie was for the Panthers.
Capel anticipated the Duke run, and Pitt seemingly all the time discovered a option to reply on Tuesday evening. Duke obtained the Pitt lead down to 2 factors twice within the closing 5 minutes, however the workforce responded. Pitt junior guard Xavier Johnson took over the sport within the closing minutes with a basket, an help, and two clutch free throws.
“We simply informed them that that is going to be a battle and it’s 40 minutes and we’ve got to maintain pushing,” he mentioned. “Now we have to maintain pushing. We had been drained, we had been fatigued. We didn’t do a great job of getting again in transition. They had been everywhere in the boards in opposition to us, however we had been capable of maintain our lead after which we had been capable of make a few pushes once they had it to 3, or two – we obtained it again to 6, we obtained it to seven.”
Capel is trying to construct his personal program, however the battle Duke displayed, is one thing he has tried to carry to Pittsburgh. The Panthers have discovered methods to win shut video games all through the season, just like the dramatic comebacks in opposition to Syracuse and Northwestern, or like Tuesday’s recreation when the Blue Devils stole the momentum from them. The workforce has managed to resist punches and be ready to win video games within the closing minutes.
“It’s onerous to be good. It’s onerous, and there’s a sure stage of dedication, self-discipline, of all this stuff that should occur,” Capel mentioned of his personal workforce. “We’re studying how to do this. We’re not there but. We’re not good but, we’re turning into good and we wish to keep hungry and maintain getting higher.”