The One Constant in Pitt's Recent Failures is Jeff Capel

Photo credit:  (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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I was very excited for this Pitt basketball season.  We finally had what looked like real centers with three 7-footers on the roster.  We had legitimate outside shooting threats transfer in over the offseason.  Plus, John Hugley, Jamarius Burton, and Nike Sibande, three of the more talented guys on the roster from last season, were all returning for another season.  It looked like Jeff Capel finally put together a decent roster through, returnees, high school recruits, and transfers through the portal.

I felt even better after seeing this new offense displayed in the UT Martin game to open the season.  I knew it was a much inferior opponent, but the new look offense looked great.  It was exactly what I had expected with a legitimate center in Federiko Federiko and several guys who could actually make 3-pointers.  Hugley was still nursing an injury so it was nice to dream about the offense once he returned.

Then, the West Virginia game happened.  Pitt looked bad, but there was also some poor officiating that put Pitt into foul trouble early.  Also, West Virginia plays a press defense that is hard to prepare for.  Plus, Hugley was still rehabbing and remained out.  So this laundry list of excuses kept me feeling good about the Panthers, despite a pretty bad loss at home in terms of the final score.

This morning, however, the hope is dwindling.  I didn't expect a win last night against the 20th ranked Michigan Wolverines, but I expected an effort from Pitt.  We didn't get one.  They were blown out of the building again.  And this time Hugley was on the floor, the officiating can't be completely blamed, and Michigan isn't known for a style of defense that can cause confusion and turnovers.  Ultimately, Pitt just played poorly and took another embarrassing loss to the tune of 91-60.

So despite a new set of guys, and some of the more talented players that remain from last season, it is still exactly what we have come to expect from Jeff Capel.  Long periods of time where Pitt can't score, turnovers by the Panthers, and the opponent shooting lights out against an incapable Panther defense.  The story continues despite a different cast of characters.

The one constant through it all is Jeff Capel.  His teams continue to struggle to score, can't defend even average shooting teams, and now it sounds like their out of shape as well.  In a post-game interview last night, Michigan guard Dug McDaniel said that Pitt looked fatigued in the 2nd half and they took advantage of it.  Michigan knew they could push the ball down the court for easy points.  

That, to me, is a pretty big indictment of the coach.  Pitt is not the most talented team, but you can make things happen if you are the most in-shape team.  They are neither.  

Also when one or two teams have their best scoring nights against you, it could be a fluke or simply a good game by the opponent.  However, it seems like every team Pitt faces has their best shooting night of the year.  Not just this season, but every season under Capel.  It can't be a coincidence when it happens night after night.  The one constant is Pitt and the one constant at Pitt is Jeff Capel.  

New recruits, new transfers, great shooters, big men, Capel has tried it all.  If not for Blake Griffin, Capel may have never received another head coaching opportunity.  But that one Elite Eight has allowed him to fail upwards and capture a head coaching job in what is typically the best conference in all of college basketball.  Unfortunately it looks like as long as Capel is the head coach, we are in for a bad season of basketball at Pitt.  *sigh*