Panther-lair - Capel: 'We were just bad across the board'
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Capel: 'We were just bad across the board'

Jeff Capel didn't have much good to say after Pitt's 20-point loss to Clemson on Wednesday. Here's a rundown of what he thought about the game.

Capel: First and foremost, congrats to Clemson. We played a team that’s really hungry. They lost three in a row and they’re dealing with some injuries, illness and they were back whole tonight and really played with a sense of urgency. They played terrific. They were shooting 29% from three coming into this game in conference play and they were 59% today and hit 13 of them. They were terrific and so congrats to them.
I’m disappointed in our performance. We were just bad across the board: energy, communication, execution on both sides. Really disappointing performance by us. Got to learn from it, move on to the next play, and get ready for the next one.

How much of the 3-point shooting about your defense getting out to the open shooters?
: It was a combination of a lot of different things. Some breakdowns defensively, allowing middle penetration, which forces help and them making shots when we tried to go zone. We tried to talk about keeping the ball out of the middle and they were able to get it there which collapses the zone and get it out to shooters. I think it was a combination of they made a lot of shots, but I do think a lot of it had to do with breakdowns on defense. And then they executed. I don’t want to make it about - they played well, so we should really congratulate them. They did a lot of good things.

Did you maybe see this coming?
Capel: A little bit, I did. We won Saturday and obviously it was a big win and a good win for us. Just the energy in practice wasn’t what it needs to be as we’re going forward. I thought we played tired. I thought we looked tired and this is the time of season where you are tired, but we have to be able to push through. So in practice on Monday and Tuesday and again trying to be mindful of guys playing a lot of minutes, fear of injuries, so not as much contact. Really trying to concentrate on gameplan and what we want to do on both sides of the floor, getting reps in and getting shots up - all those things. It really just wasn't the energy that is needed to win this time of year.

Brad Brownell mentioned they didn’t play a lot of zone this year. Did you have to do a lot of in-game adjustments?
Capel: No I anticipated them playing a lot of zone against us. He’s primarily a man-to-man team and that statement he made to you is not true. They actually have played quite a bit of zone recently. They played it in every game, maybe not as much as they did today, but they played it and we anticipated that coming in. Whether if they were in a man or a zone, our offense was bad. Again, I want to give them credit, but we didn’t move. We just stood around and that was right from the start of the game. We talked about coming into this game that we had to move their defense. Brad’s teams are always one of the better defensive teams, from the time that he was at Wilmington. They teach it well, they are very fundamentally sound on that side of the ball, they’re physical and they do a really good job. And playing against his teams you have to have movement and we did not have movement, no matter if they were in man or zone. Their defense was really good, but our offense was really poor, too. Probably a lot of them, but some of it was self-inflicted as well.

What are some things you think you can do to help improve against the zone?
Capel: We’ve been good against the zone at times. We were really good in the second half at Syracuse. I thought we were very good against Georgia Tech’s zone. The very first thing is that we have to make shots. We got some open looks and we have to be able to knock them down. We can’t be afraid if we miss and we can’t be hesitant. If you’re hesitant, you’re doubtful, then you’re not going to make it. So we have to do that, we have to move. We have to have movement against the zone. We just can’t stand and I thought we were that way against a man or a zone tonight, it didn’t matter.

Does it hurt when you aren’t able to build any momentum to start a game on your home floor?
Capel: Unfortunately that’s where we’ve been in several games this year, especially recently. We were that way against Georgia Tech and we were that way in some other games early, but we were able to find energy different places and get back in it and then get a rhythm. So I don't think it necessarily had to do - we missed those shots early, you said 6 out of 7. I think at least three of them there was one shot-clock violation and I think there were two more where we had to throw something up at the clock to avoid the violation. I call those shot-clock violations as well. It all happened because we didn’t move, that’s what happened. There was no movement and when we catch the ball and hold it thinking and trying to see and then the defense can load up. Like if you’re not moving, they’re not moving and they’re just loading and standing there waiting. If you try to drive which we’re a driving team and if there’s no movement then there’s probably not anywhere to drive. So we weren’t intelligent with some of things we were doing early in this game and again we have to fix.

Is there something to be said with learning how to handle success? Justin mentioned that you came off a win and maybe wasn’t as hungry as they were…
Capel: Hey man, this program hasn’t been successful and so I don’t get that. It’s something that we’ve tried to preach all year long and at some point we have to figure it out. At some point we have to figure out the things that are required to be really good and that’s the goal for us to be really good. Not for an individual to be really good, not for a guy to get numbers or anything, but it’s for us to be really good consistently. So you ask about a lesson learned, it’s the middle of February - we should have learned from Nicholls State in November, the second game. So at some point guys have to listen. They have to get over themselves and they have to understand the requirements of what it takes to be really good - consistently good. Not good in the moment, but to become consistently good as a program. We’re not there yet. We’ve taken some steps and we’ve done some good things - I don’t want to disregard that, but we’re not there yet.

Like after we lost to Duke, that was our longest break. We were done a little bit after 11 and that was Tuesday and we weren’t playing again until Sunday at noon. It’s the longest break we’ve had since we started. I think we’re a little bit tired, mentally and physically tired. But one of the things I said to our guys: from this point - because we actually did some really good things and at the under-4 minute timeout we’re in a position where we have a chance to maybe win. It’s a one-possession game and I said to our guys that we did some really good things in this game and we have to understand that if we can do this here in this environment against this team, we should be able to bottle that up. But from now until Tuesday, everybody is going to be telling you how good you are and how good you did. And at some point that has to offend you. At some point it has to offend you to be close.

We’re not there yet. When we get there - not if, but when we get there - that’s when we’ll take a giant leap as a program. So maybe you do have to go through these lessons to get the message across because young people today are so easily distracted. You can lose a game and I can talk to them - and this is not just our locker room because I talked to other coaches - before you leave 12 guys are looking at their phone, 13 guys, and by the time they leave the locker room their mind may be off the loss. They may have gotten some texts, they may have looked at something on Twitter or Instagram, they may have looked at some snaps and all the sudden your mind isn’t on - like, this kills me. I won’t sleep tonight. I was that way when I was a player. I often wonder, if I had all these distractions, would I have been that way? The game and team has always been sacred to me and I don’t think I would have.

We have to get to a point where this really bothers you and have to change it. No one is going to feel sorry for us, no team in this league is going to feel sorry for us. So we have to grow up and we have to understand we are the ones that have to change it.

Any preliminary indication on Hamilton’s injury?
Capel: I do not.

How special was it when the Zoo was singing you ‘Happy Birthday’ ?
Capel: It was cool, but it was a little bit embarrassing. I don’t like attention. I don’t. I never have. I’m appreciative and grateful that they were awesome, but for me I had my time as a player. This is about these guys. I want everything to be about our guys. But it was cool, I’m really grateful for it.

What did you think of Murphy’s performance in his first game back after missing a few weeks?
Capel: I thought he gave us some good minutes. Obviously he’s incredibly rusty. He just got cleared for contact yesterday and the day before a game we don’t really do much contact. The game was actually the first time he’s gone up and down with contact. We did a little bit yesterday in a half-court, but the game was the first time he went up and down. So I thought he gave us some good minutes and we need to get him integrated back.