Take 5: Pitt’s Jeff Capel juggles 2 important jobs, but the one at home counts most

Anyone with children knows that it is not easy to distinguish between work and family.

Imagine walking as Jeff Capel – husband, father of three and basketball coach Pitt.

Amid a tough season, Capel spoke at length about this tricky maneuver earlier this week on KDKA-FM.

Asked an insightful question by ‘Morning Show’ host Colin Dunlap about how he helps his family weed out negativity from outside sources, Capel gave a thoughtful response that opened a window that many coaches guard. closed.

“That’s what I do,” he said. “It’s not who I am.

“I’m the basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh. I’m very proud to be the basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh and we’re doing our best to turn things around, we had the impression of taking a few steps and going in the right direction.

Capel and his wife, Kanika, have three children: daughters Cameron, 14, and Sydney, 12; and her son Elijah, 9. Capel said they were “of age now that they understand things a little more.” He said Elijah “really loves our team, really loves coming to the games, really loves the sport.”

“What I tell them is that dad works hard. He shows up every day. I give everything.

“I love my job. I love the guys I work with. I love the kids I get to work with. But that’s not who I am. Who I am is who I am with you everyday.

Capel said he tries to attend his children’s games and events. Most importantly, work stays at work. He said he was trying to be there at bedtime. At that point, he sits down and gets back to work.

He remembers sitting in his office after the one-point loss to Minnesota on Nov. 30.

“I’m heartbroken. I’ve got a punch,” he said. “I’m sitting there just watching and I get a text from my daughter, my 14-year-old daughter.

“She’s sending me this TikTok of this guy talking. And all he’s talking about is, ‘I want you to know how proud I am of you and someone needs to hear that.’ know you work hard.”

Capel said the TikTok post sparked his emotions.

“I’m just a father to them,” he said. “I am not a coach. I’m just a dad, and it’s the biggest title I have, the most important title I have and it’s the thing I’m most proud of.

Now back to the season. Pitt gets a rematch with Louisville at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Petersen Events Center.

1. Deserved recognition

Probably the best bet anyone can make is to bet on themselves. Pitt point guard Onyebuchi Ezeakudo did just that, and it paid off this week when he was rewarded with a scholarship.

While at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., he was recruited by several Division II, Division III, and NAIA schools. But he was drawn to Pitt where he planned to study bioengineering for medical school.

“I had to decide if I wanted to go to a place where I could play for sure and play a part in the team,” he said, “or if I could come to a place like Pitt and eventually be a part of it. of the team (as a walkon), maybe not. But take this chance.

He said an abandoned coach actually told Ezeakudo that going to Pitt would be “a big mistake”.

In the end, he decided “to trust me, to believe that everything would be fine by coming to Pitt and going. Everything worked, luckily.

Initially, he planned to be a practice player for the women’s team in the 2018-2019 season. But when Capel scheduled a tryout for the walk-ons, he jumped in and got a coaching role for the men. While at home on vacation, he received a call to return to campus. He was needed on the active roster.

“Even though I didn’t make the team in my first year, I was going to keep trying,” he said. “That was my mindset: don’t take no for an answer.”

He said being a walkon requires mental toughness.

“Especially when you work as hard as everyone else and maybe you don’t get the same recognition or any recognition,” he said. “A lot of times I felt like it was really easy to just say, ‘Forget it. Let me get through my last two years. The hardest thing is to be mentally strong to say, “I’m going to keep going. ”

That’s what he did and he became an integral part of the team, averaging almost 17 minutes per game this season.

Ezeakudo will still have one qualifying season in 2022-23, but he’s unsure whether he’ll use it or go to medical school.

“I’ll think about it over the next few months,” he said.

2. Help Wanted

Over the past five games, John Hugley has averaged 16.2 points per game, followed by Femi Odukale at 14.6. Jamarius Burton has been consistent over the past nine games (15 points). Mouhamadou Gueye is at 13.2 in the last six.

Those four, plus William Jeffress, make up 41.6% of the roster, but scored 81.7% of the points (815 of 997).

3. The man knows how to get dirty

Pitt’s record for free throw attempts in a season (304 by Brian Shorter in 1990) is out of reach for John Hugley, but he leads the nation (124). Averaging 10 per game against five ACC opponents, Hugley scored 39 of his 81 points from the foul line.

4. Half way back

Pitt is losing (6-10, 1-4) after 16 games for the first time since the 1997-98 season (7-9 in Ralph Willard’s penultimate year as coach).

Looking back, it was a bit surprising to see that the best record of 16 games since Jamie Dixon’s departure is held by Kevin Stalllings’ team (12-4 in 2016-2017). Side note: Pitt has lost all seven straight games.

Pitt’s second-worst 16-game record this century is 8-8, shared by Ben Howland in his first season (1999-2000) and Stallings in his last (2017-2018).

5. Busy stretch ahead

The ACC rescheduled the postponed game at VPI (Virginia Tech for the uninformed) to February 7. It’s two days after VPI visited Pete. It also creates a five-game-in-12-day streak – four on the road – from January 29 to February 9.

Jerry DiPaola is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Jerry by email at jdipaola@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *