Pitt 73 vs NC State 74 Recap – 2/17/21

Here is another good dissection of the game just played written by Dan72.

What a typical ‘Pitt fan experience today’s game was. Not on TV (I have Comcast). Not on radio (Cook and Poni are awful). Not on the Pitt app for those of us in Maryland until 15 minutes to go in the game. Tex’s Pitt fan experience article just rang true. So typical Pitt. SOP!

So I followed it on Gamecast and got a halftime update from several (screaming in anger) Pitt fans and friends! Finally the Pitt App started working with about 13 minutes left and I listened to Bill Hillgrove struggling to call the game accurately (an understatement). So looking at the boxscore and following as best I could, here are my thoughts….

This was a tragic and inexcusable one point loss for Pitt. This was a game against a team which was missing both starting guards and that had been blown out in it’s last two games. Pitt is now 0-11 in the last NC State games and 2-19 lifetime vs the Wolfpack.  Pitt was down between four and eight points the entire game and really didn’t threaten until the very last part of the match.

I have now surrendered!

I do not have a single good thing to say about this team. Instead, it’s the continuation of the Pitt tradition (curse) of getting worse as the season goes on and then totally collapsing in the end of the season. Where the hell were the plays and players who defeated Syracuse two times in a row, or who beat and outplayed Duke??

As a former high school basketball coach I am loathe to criticize the Pitt coaching staff but…this team has such an obvious lack of discipline that it’s beyond my imagination as to what they do in practice every day.

Start with the last play:  Pitt had been behind the entire game (amazing in itself) and finally took a one point lead with two minutes to go.

When Pitt got that lead with a terrific shot move by Xman, they stood around celebrating the “feat” while a 6’10″ Wolfpack Forward fast broke (lumbered past) the entire Pitt team for an easy layup. So much for that lead.

Then, of course, Pitt relaxed and NC State scored the next five. Our opponent was up by three with 28 seconds to go then Pitt cut the lead to one. Then a miracle – a NC State guard traveled in Pitt’s end so Pitt gets the ball with 12.3 seconds left on their side of the court.

Capel calls an appropriate time out to diagram a play. Toney totally ignores the play and drives wildly with a one on three to the basket and was cleanly and easily blocked by a Wolfpack big man… but….another miracle… the ball bounces to Champ who panics and throws up an airball.

Chaos, a lack of discipline and awfully terrible basketball on our own frick’n court against only three varsity first team players for NC State? Unbelievable!

Many comments said that we were totally done in by the two NC State big men and we just couldn’t handle their size. Reall? When does Capel and the Pitt players ever try to take away or counter the other team’s advantages?? When??

If it’s not two big men we face then it’s a three point shooter or two. Sometimes what gets us is a terrific point guard on the other team. THESE THINGS ARE NOT SECRETS! We’ve scouted these teams I hope. There are things a coach can do to counter each of these situations….even in junior high school!  But Pitt just goes out game, after game, after game and makes the same mistakes in ignoring the opponent’s strength and weaknesses in trying to play “our game” whatever that is??

I almost can forgive the St Francis loss early on but I cannot forgive this continuing saga of chaotic, unfocussed and undisciplined play!! It has cost Pitt at least four games we should have won.

Either the players are complete talentless idiots or we are seeing an incredible lack of coaching by Capel and his staff. And while we are at it, where the hell is the point guard and big man we’ve needed for three years?? Can anyone say recruiting?  Enough with the “Pitt was left barren.” theme.

Capel, you’re making millions and have four former head-coaches working on your staff. Overcome the damn obstacles and get us the talent we need. You are making way too much salary to repeat your mistakes season after season.

This basketball season is effectively now over no matter how we play the remaining games. What a damn shame because with insightful coaching and a continual emphasis on team fundamentals it did not have to be this way.


Dan 72

53 thoughts on “Pitt 73 vs NC State 74 Recap – 2/17/21

  1. Thanks for the article, Dan 72. It was a difficult article for me to read, not because it was poorly written, it was not, but because it was an honest appraisal of poor play, teamwork, and the current state of the program. Sigh and double sigh.


  2. I managed to watch the game while working and for a guy who didn’t get to see it, you certainly have an accurate account of that mess.


  3. Capel said an amazing thing is his post game interview. Something I would not recommend any coach at any level say “I just don’t understand why we stopped playing defense”. What do you mean you don’t understand?? You’re the head damn coach! You teach your team in practice daily.
    NCST shot 57% from the floor with their JV team. That’s ridiculous! 35% is a good mark to shoot for. In Pitt’s last 4 games Pitt has averaged giving up 47%. That’s also ridiculous!,

    What on earth do you do at practice?? .


  4. Ditto everything you said dan.

    NCSU had also lost 8 of their previous 10 games. But everyone plays with confidence
    when they face Capel’s Panthers. Wake Forest, same thing, ND, same thing.

    Wonder why that is ?


  5. Probably should have added St. Francis to that list of bad teams we lost to.

    St Francis btw is 5-10 in their conf and in next to last place. Kinda knew then, we were
    in for a long season. Again St Francis played with confidence, we did not.


  6. When you start the season without having a decent ACC caliber point guard and center just what were you all suspecting? Actually it’s amazing that they were able to win the games they won and played close in many others. Then add in that we also have a not so good head coach so getting the results we are getting is perfectly understandable.—–By the way if Narduzzi was the head BB coach I could only imagine the level of vile and anger that would be directed at him versus what is currently being directed at Capel on this site.


  7. good players help make coaches’ game strategic decisions look good, and the better the player, the better the decision

    As I had previously written, Capel’s first (transition) year recruiting class can certainly be excused (he was hired in March) … still, he brought in X, Trey and Audie on very short notice, not bad considering .But his 2nd class was a disappointment …. he did bring in Champ but very little otherwise. Coulibaly should be a back-up, spelling the starting center for 8 minutes per game

    This past year appeared to be much better with Hugley, Odukale, Jeffress and Collier ….. and still may be. I’m never too critical of true freshmen and Femi looks like a keeper. But as of now …. who knows about the other three? Pitt has lost a handful of close games; would this have changed if Hugley had been playing all along?

    It is alarming that nobody is signed for this year’s class. Capel better do a good job with the portal


    1. Hugley was suspended on Jan 15. And also since then, Jeffress and Collier have rarely played

      Pitt has gone 2-6 since that time


  8. My Lenten abstinence has been adjusted to denying my self WATCHING losing basketball…easy peazy.

    On to indoor golf simulators…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. X is suppose to be a leader on this team. The team is adopting his crappy attitude, lack of respect toward the other team and refs. These aren’t playground games. Capel’s team is out of control.

    The FR need to start getting more minutes. What the heck to they have to lose.


  10. with how bad this “team” looks so often, it is amazing that they get back into games as they have and not simply blown out more

    while there ARE pieces/players missing, first for me the individualistic style of play on offense is concerning, secondly the inconsistent effort on defense is inexcusable but MOST OF ALL the lack of great recruiting when you don’t have a coach implementing things to make up for these issues will be Capel’s undoing

    with basketball you either have talent and personalities mesh for about 5-7 guys and that can lead to success with most any type of play OR you have a system that the coaches impose and you get effort from lower level talent and the players develop in that system to become a good team through 4 years

    we know what Jamie DIxon was, an uber successful system guy
    Capel might not be either and unlike football, I think basketball talent is far easier to see,,,,, or not see

    personally I’ll be quicker to judge JC than PN because it’s easier to do so but signs aren’t encouraging at this point in any phase

    Liked by 3 people

  11. This team is unwatchable. The lack of effort is unforgivable.

    You know it’s bad when I am starting to hope pitt basketball can have a level success close to Pitt football.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Capel has shown nothing since arriving at Pitt. Most damaging is his perceived recruiting chops and he failed in his first full class, the one where he should have struck it big. No good center was added as AKC is better as a backup. Justin is terrific, but Murphy and Drumgoole instead of two different guys who are contributors is killing the program right now. Freshmen, instead of seasoned sophomores, are being counted on instead. Not a good recipe for Pitt in the ACC.

    How are there ZERO recruits for 2021 after three years of developing contacts and relationships? If that isn’t a reg flag I don’t know what is that this man isn’t taking Pitt back to the NCAAs. Heck, he needs to have a winning record first.

    The poor defense, the technicals, the bad shots and turnovers add up to not only Jeff, but a poor staff he assembled. Only Pitt can have three assistants who are former head coaches and the team looks bad on the court.

    Going 0-2 in the one-point losses isn’t bad luck either.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Champ was 3-11, but 11-16 in foul shots, he got Hellams to foul out and was one short of getting Funderburk out of the game. Funderburk killed Pitt under the boards. Not sure why Capel doesn’t focus on getting the big three to drive and get these guys fouled out when the refs are calling those fouls.
    Not difficult to draw fouls if you know how and make it part of the strategy.

    Coaching could make more of a difference, but the lack of a point guard and strong big man hurt the ability to get easy baskets and defend inside. Got to believe Hugley would have helped in the close losses.

    If Capel doesn’t get help at these positions we will see a replay of this next year. Much worse if Champ leaves. Heard he is predicted to be a second round draft choice.


  14. Regarding the final 9 or so seconds that Pitt had to close out the game, I was reminded of the ending of one of my favorite sports movies “Hoosiers.” There was a similar end of game circumstance. Hickory HS needed a basket in the closing seconds to beat the very talented and taller big school team from South Bend, IN. In those early 1950’s days in Indiana, there were no demarcations between big schools and little schools where playoffs were concerned. The best teams won as did tiny Milan HS in 1954, that team serving as the model for the fictitious Hickory HS in the film.

    At the end of the movie’s State Finals game Coach Norman Dale calls a play for someone other than the team’s best shooter, Jimmy Chitwood, to shoot the final shot. The players all raise themselves up and look at the coach. They know that their only chance is for Jimmy to be the shooter. Jimmy looks at the coach and says, “I can make it.” And he does. The final scene shows a little boy shooting baskets in the empty Hickory gym with of voice-over of Coach Dale (played by Gene Hackman) that repeats his halftime message to his team, “I love you guys.”

    Who should have shot the final shot or Pitt last night? Their best shooter? Justin? Can a coach outsmart himself? Turnovers. Missed foul shots. Unnecessary technical fouls. Missed layups and tip ins. Inability to make wide open intermediate shots. Gasp. That is why I resorted to discussing a movie whose Oscar nominated music score and supporting actor Dennis Hopper still resonate with me. Still tear up at the ending. Still doing the same thing at the end of recent Pitt games. But for different reasons.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. in the 2011 NCAA 2nd round, Butler was down by 1 point with 9 seconds left and Butler coach Brad Stevens called a timeout. Surely, the ball will go to guard Shelvin Mack who had already scored 30 points or to forward Matt Howard who was led Butler in scoring that season with 16.3 ppg

      But Noooo! They put the ball into (I don’t even remember who) hands who scored on a driving hook-shot with about 4 seconds left.

      Sorry … couldn’t pass it up, but it was the same situation


  15. Oh, but we only lost by one is a Narduzzi response to the AD. We were so close, yadda yadda yadda.
    A one point loss, chased down with some kool aid and poof, it will sound like a pitt win in a couple of days. Add in a couple doses of “look at all the pitt players have had to overcome due to covid” and double poof, we actually won in some minds. Please remember that the team we play has the exact same situation going on with testing and everything else. This was an awful display of basketball effort and fundamentals against a team that didn’t have their top 2 guards and we were favored by 4, right?

    I did watch the re-run on accnetwork, because I could, not because I wanted to. I did pick-up that Pitt ran the same play a couple of times during the game when toney rubbed off a screen going to his left for an easy lay-up. Other than that, controlled chaos. The last sequence was awful and well described by dan.

    There was a point in the contest that Capel received a technical and so did Femi. It was actually a very good call by the refs when they slowed the play down and showed what Femi did. It was a good try by femi, but capel over-reacted and got teed up. I think they made all four free throws. In an odd twist of fate, Pitt received a similar 4 shot technical foul experience, when their best player Hellemes?? swatted the ball from a pitt player after the whistle (exact same call that went against pitt/x man) a game or two ago. Champ missed a couple of freebies out of his 4 attempts. X also had a technical foul called against him and I don’t think he got benched for doing so (?). The refs actually gave us some breaks in my opinion with calls during the second half, but especially during the last two minutes.

    Finally, when will Capel allow the true freshmen, other than femi play, so that they can learn what it takes to play at an ACC level? It has been a wasted year for all of the freshman except femi, in my opinion. Pitt is not going anywhere in post season action and Capel should use this time to get his players ready for next year. I would rather lose playing freshman and giving them good experience, versus playing who we played (and who freelanced the entire game). All of Pitt’s freshman have to get better than our competitors freshman by September. Sitting the bench does not allow for that (especially when your team has tapped out for the season).

    When will hugley play again? Innocent until proven guilty in the court of law anybody? Life doesn’t stop when you get accused of something. He should have received a 5 game suspension (violation of team rules) with a chance to lose his schollie, dependent on the results of the legal process. I am not saying that hugleys presence would have made a difference in this or any other game. I wouldn’t know. But I also wouldn’t know if any of our other high quality recruits would have made a difference or not either. Capel is teaching all the freshman that you can freelance and quit playing the game and you still get to play. Coaching 101 says, nope, sorry son. Those that stop playing (due to lack of effort), stop playing (in the next game because coach sat you).

    Brown made some strong moves to the basket and actually had a good shooting performance. When he shoots that well, Pitt shouldn’t waste that chance for victory.


    1. Arnold Ziffel:
      Appreciate your comments regarding Hugley, as well as your mentioning Brown’s strong play. (Mobile will not allow me to “Like” comments.)


  16. PSN poll up now:
    Do you have faith that Coach Capel can turn Pitt around…
    295 votes so far has 52% yes, 27% not sure.
    21% no.
    I was surprised that no was only 21%…


  17. I did not see it, but I understand XMan got teed up for wolfing at the State bench after he made a fancy shot or a 3. If true, that’s an encapsulation of Pitt’s season and total lack of respect for coaches and team. Any discipline that was on this team has departed.


    1. He got teed up after hitting a three point jumper and chirped at the ncst bench about it. These things cost games. Act like you have made one before.

      X did make a very good behind the back movement of the ball to get it way from the defender on his way to the bucket for a deuce. Unfortunately, all of pitt was celebrating and ncst went down and gotr an easy layup with a foul because we didn’t get back. That was no discipline or understanding of time, place and circumstance. Look, the move was nice, but it wasn’t something where you saw it and reacted like WOWser in my opinion. A high school all star can make that play too.

      NCState hustled the entire game. Pitt did not. I believe Pitt has better skill players. Effort beats skill, often.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. A couple of posters (frankmd and lastrowofsection4) mentioned that as their Lenten fast, they’re abstaining from Pitt BB for forty days. Such a sacrifice :-). Lent is also a time of prayer and I’m praying like PittMan2003 is hoping, that Pitt BB can be as successful as Pitt FB. Sigh and double sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. SOP and Pitting are killers of school spirit. Performances like this lead to apathy

    And you won’t hear me criticize Capel just yet. He inherited a dumpster fire. Narduzzi inherited a stable program and has been coach for twice as long.

    But heather should be very worried at this point. Maybe she’s planning her exit strategy. She did with eastern Michigan. After she left, the school was forced to cut at least four programs due to financial mismanagement. The new AD commented ‘I never knew it was this bad’

    My new article is down those lines. It’s entitled ‘ landscaping – cut or keep’

    Tex now without water.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Capel lost me a while back. He doesn’t coach defense. Obviously a team on the rise with limited ability needs to play defense first and foremost. PITT doesn’t!!! Teach the kids discipline. These guys are no fun to watch. Start looking for a new coach.


  21. Dan72 — nice job on your article.

    I was on a Zoom chalk-talk call the other day with the assistant head coach of the women’s team. At one point she was talking about their game against BC and talked about two time-outs they called near the end of the nail-biter game. They instructed the players each time on what the opponents defense was likely to do and what they should do. In both cases the coaches got it right but the Pitt players did not follow the instructions given to them seconds before.

    She said how frustrating it is for the coaches – especially with trying to keep the players positive in the heat of battle…

    Seems to be some scary parallels between the women’s and men’s BB teams…

    Go Pitt.


  22. not sure I’d call Brown’s shooting shooting

    thought he was much better on the defensive end than Coul by a mile – disruptive would almost fit

    and he did score some including a very nice hustle down the court to catch a nice pass from Toney

    2 games lost with opportunities on the last shot, one uses X who missed a very makeable shot and other with a very athletic Toney matched up against a freshman that really didn’t come close

    either way I think they are better options than Champ so I’m not hating the choice of plays or the guys given the ball, we don’t have clearly superior talent

    if Capel is getting frustrated, and he sure looks like he is, it all comes back to him and his recruiting to stock the shelves


  23. Thanks Dan! I don’t know a thing about BB but love watching the college game. I can’t believe that there is not even a stout 7 footer or 6’-11” big man even in the JUCO ranks that would jump at even a Pitt offer.


  24. The amount of technicals is also to me a sign of an out of control team or individual(s). Some of these guys need to sit down – not just for the first 5 min of a game or half…how about sending a message and sit them out a game. Don’t let them dress for goodness sake.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Could be Big Bens time to get on with his life’s work. In an interview today GM stated:

    “As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert said. “… He reiterated that to us that he wants to continue to play, and we told him quite frankly we have to look at this current situation. … With Ben’s current cap number, some adjustment will have to be made.”


  26. Several folks have mentioned Capel’s Recruiting classes. Let’s take a closer look.

    Actually even though his first class had to be put together hurriedly, it remains his
    most productive class to date. 2 of Pitt’s current Top 3 scorers are from it. X & Toney
    X also leads not only Pitt in assists, but is #2 in the ACC. (probably turnovers too)
    And McGowen’s was a large contributor. So that class was 3 for 3.

    Class Number 2 had; Champ, Murphy, Coulibaly, & Drumgoole.

    Champ was obviously a great hit (if I remember he snagged him pretty late in the process)
    and he wasn’t even really ranked on a National basis. But incredibly he’s leading the
    ACC in Scoring and Rebounding.

    Murphy had 1 game winning shot, shortly thereafter they beat him up in practice
    and his Pitt career was effectively over.

    Coulibaly has been forced to play more minutes this season than Capel anticipated.
    What with the slow development of Hughley and then his suspension and
    Brown being Brown. While he has played some and contributed some…it hasn’t been much.
    5 ppg and 4 rpg. Doesn’t really give you much of a post presence on offense and
    does little on defense. As witness, anyone that has good big men, usually have a field
    day against us.

    Drumgoole has been a total bust. Way to slow for ACC, don’t know what Capel saw in his
    recruitment, other than just signing a body. Hopefully he transfers out.

    So Class Number 2 was 1.5 of 4. At this point Coulibaly is a half, if that.

    Class Number 3 is pretty easy.

    So far it’s a 1 of 4. Only Femi has shown anything. His continued development will
    rely on him becoming a much better shooter, which at this point is pretty horrendous
    from the outside and FT line.

    So totaling up the Numbers…makes it 5 and a half out of 11 recruits.
    And that’s including McGowens in the 5.5 and he’s gone. So really 4.5 out of 11.

    As far as the other transfers, Horton has been OK while Sibande has been a bust.

    That’s not nearly good enough for a guy who was supposed to be an Ace Recruiter.
    And is why Pitt is again sinking to the bottom rung of the ACC.


  27. what the beginning of Lent means to me is that The Masters is about 6 weeks away … and The Players is about 3 or 4 weeks away


  28. Capel’s overall winning percentage as head coach across three schools is .582

    Narduzzis record as a head coach is .553

    Heather sure knows how to pick them


    1. What do you think she is picking in her basement?

      (a.) Horses
      (b.) Roses
      (c.) Teeth
      (d.) Splinters
      (e.) Other


  29. Capel’s 2 big winning seasons and Elite 8 appearance with Oklahoma was centered around
    Blake Griffin.

    Who he didn’t really have to recruit. You see Blake’s older brother Taylor Griffin was already at Oklahoma,
    as a Sophomore when Capel got there. The brothers being from Oklahoma City.

    The older brother recruited Blake. As soon as Blake left for the NBA, the program went into the
    crapper. 2 subpar seasons under .500 even with four Top 50 rated players on the team.

    Funny what you can dig up, in a short period of time.


    1. Loved him for the first 10 years, even with all the early NCAAT exits sans the Elite 8 year.

      Things were slipping a little even before the ACC move, as we went from a No. 1 seed in
      2011, to missing the tournament the next year, to a No. 8 seed, followed by a No. 9
      seed, to missing the tournament, to a No. 10 seed.

      So it appeared at the time, like it was good time to bid adieu. Seemed like it was in the ‘cards’
      since he was a TCU alum-former player, their job was open and they were waiving Large Coin since
      they had Big 12 money, after being admitted to that Conference just a few years before.

      Little did we know, what the future was going to bring.

      Only the Basketball gods knew !


      1. anyone who didn’t love him for the first 10 years, I have no acceptably civil words I can write here

        I’d have had zero issue with him trying to impose his style in the ACC

        I, like everyone, would have loved him to get higher rated recruits yet we know Pitt wouldn’t entirely support that possibility, the few Jaime got gave me hope if they stayed in his system but of course some didn’t and would’ve never fit(Khem) and another should not have(Adams)

        with the program trending downward, I only cared to know if HE wanted to leave more so than Pitt not caring to keep him for another 10 years

        I don’t agree with the pre-season weak schedule criticism, that could’ve been improved a bit and if he resisted, so what. I’d be very happy to make the tournament most years and every once in a while have a legit shot to make the final 4


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