How Did He Get Here?

To follow on to the last conversation – here is a questioning look at Pitt basketball today.

Athletic Director Heather Lyke put Pitt in the Capel Trap; Capel gets the boot first, maybe mid-2021-22 season

Einstein once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. All though Einstein didn’t know it at the time, he was describing Pitt’s approach to achieving championship sports programs, and, In particular, Pitt’s head basketball coach, Jeff Capel

Capel’s hire demonstrated Pitt’s commitment to diversity. As a fan, I was glad to see Pitt entrusting its men’s hoops program to a black coach.  But I do have to wonder if Lyke made the best possible hire in 2018. There are a number of talented, young black coaches who are producing winning records and making the NCAA Tournament who don’t have the self-inflicted traps Capel seems to put himself in, especially is she is looking around for a replacement..

Capel at VCU

2003-04    *NCAA23-8.742
2004-05   *NIT19-13.594

In 2018 Capel already had established a record as a head basketball coach at VCU and Oklahoma. Pitt is his third head coaching gig. Capel’s winning percentage has decreased from a high of .833 at Oklahoma followed by five losing seasons..

Capel at Oklahoma

2007-08    *NCAA23-12.657
2008-09    *NCAA30-6.833
20010-1114 18.437         
NCAA appearances2007-082008-09

Capel was 23-12 in 2007-08 and made it to the NCAA 2nd round.  Capel peaked at Oklahoma in 2008-09 with a 30-6 record and an Elite Eight appearance with superstar Blake Griffin dong the heavy lifting.

In 2008-09 Capel slipped to 13-18 despite having Scout and Rivals’ recruiting rankings of #7. Losing at Oklahoma cost Capel, but the way he lost hurt more. In 2009-10 his record beginning in January was 5-13. In 2010-11 his record January through the end of the season was 7-13. He signed high rated recruits but three McDonald’s All-American departed after the 2010-11 season. Capel ended that season facing a deep hole with no highly rated recruits  A total of five players left his program.

By going to Duke as head assistant coach and interim head coach, Capel threw some shade on his  record. He was reborn, at least in the eyes of Lyke, as the highly competent, well-respected Duke assistant head coach, a cache that persuaded her to hire Capel and do a victory lap..

Here are some questions any AD worth their pay would ask before signing off on his hire:

Did Lyke talk to anyone associated with Capel at Oklahoma? Was Heather Lyke aware of Capel’s Oklahoma experience that ended with long losing streaks and players leaving the program?  Which factors at VCU contributed to his success and what was the possibility of creating those at Pitt?

Why can’t Capel build camaraderie and buy-in from players? What is it about playing for Capel that results in teams just giving up with long January – March losing streaks?

So  why do Pitt fans believe everything will be better next season?