Published: Wed, March 28, 2018
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Pitt Panthers basketball lands near-perfect coach in Duke assistant Jeff Capel

Pitt Panthers basketball lands near-perfect coach in Duke assistant Jeff Capel

With the team in peril after a terrible season, more bad news hit the Oklahoma program as reports that McDonald's All-American Tiny Gallon had received impermissible benefits and that Capel's assistant, Oronde Taliaferro, had resigned.

A coaching search that starts as a hot mess doesn't usually end well, but that appears to be the case for the Pitt men's basketball program.

Prior to becoming associate head coach at Duke, Capel was a head coach at Oklahoma from 2006 to 2011, and head coach at Virginia Commonwealth from 2002 to 2006.

Capel replaces Kevin Stallings, who was sacked earlier this month after two seasons.

The university announced on Tuesday that Jeff Capel, formerly a Duke basketball assistant, has signed a seven year deal to take over and try and rebuild the basketball program. "His insight, passion for the game, relationships with our players, and most importantly, his friendship have meant the world to me and my family. The values I have learned from Coach K, his family and his teams will continue to have a significant impact on my career as I look to build on a great tradition here at Pitt".

Capel will take over a young roster that included seven freshmen averaging at least 17 minutes. Things went south at the end of Capel's tenure at Oklahoma, as the Sooners went 27-36 and missed the NCAA Tournament in two straight seasons.

Duke went 4-3 under Capel, who also led the Blue Devils to single victories at Georgia Tech in 2015-16 and against Wake Forest this year while Krzyzewski was ill. The Rams qualified for the NCAA tournament in his second season. At Oklahoma, Capel led the Sooners to two NCAA tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight run in 2009 with Blake Griffin.

Capel was not implicated in the investigation and found a landing spot at his alma mater.

Capel has been instrumental in luring talent away from Kentucky and other top schools in recent years, most notably the 2018 recruiting class that includes R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish.

The Panthers reached the NCAAs 11 times in 13 seasons under Dixon.

Now, comparing recruiting at Duke and Pitt is a little like contrasting apples and oranges, but still, Capel clearly connects with high school kids and knows the ACC landscape.

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