2017-18 Record: 8-24, 0-18 in the ACC
Head Coach: Jeff Capel
Tenure at Pittsburgh: 1st season
Career coaching record: N/A
Home court: Petersen Events Center
Starters: G Malik Ellison, G Khameron Davis, G/F Shamiel Stevenson, F/C Terrell Brown, G/F Jared Wilson-Frame
Bench: G Xavier Johnson, G Trey McGowens, G Sidy N’Dir, F/C Kene Chukwuka, G Au’Diese Toney
Overview: After a putrid season under former head coach Kevin Stallings, in which the Panthers did not win a single game in ACC play, Pittsburgh hopes to turn a new leaf with a new head coach in Jeff Capel. Capel, who has had great success as the assistant coach at Duke for the last seven seasons, has a great reputation for his recruiting methods.
While Pittsburgh will still need to recover from a season filled with dysfunction and disappointment, leading to the departure of two of its better freshmen in Parker Stewart and Marcus Carr, Capel could be the coach who puts the pieces back together again. Redshirt junior Malik Ellison returns as the Panthers’ leading scorer last season, and he is joined by experienced sophomore Khameron Davis—a defensive-minded guard—in the starting backcourt. Pittsburgh got outscored by its opponents 2316-1985 last season, so it will be important for the Panthers to garner some offense from its two guards. Redshirt Junior transfer Malik Ellison will also help spark some offense, in his first season with the Panthers.
Pittsburgh’s non-conference schedule appears relatively easy, which will give the team enough time to get used to a new system, with new players and a new mentality. ACC play will not get any easier than it was last year though, which will probably be the main reason the Panthers miss the NCAA tournament again.
One thing that needs to go right: Capel whips this team into shape in order to make Pittsburgh a desirable destination for recruits. It is very unlikely that the Panthers will make a complete 180 in Capel’s first year as head coach, but hopefully for them, they make some changes which could put them on an upwards path to success in the future.
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One thing that can go wrong: Pittsburgh hired the wrong replacement, and Capel’s head coaching isn’t as good as his recruiting. The Panthers desperately need their new shot caller to show why he has such good reviews as a coach from the likes of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but if his skills are limited to creating good draft classes, the Panthers will be in trouble for years to come.