The Pitt basketball program flew excessive at the moment final week. The Panthers got here away with a formidable 79-73 victory over Duke on nationwide tv. The workforce was talked about for the NCAA match, Justin Champagnie made nationwide headlines, and the general really feel across the program was totally different than it had been at any level in current reminiscence.
Issues modified rapidly.
Pitt suffered a 76-75 loss final Saturday in opposition to Wake Forest and adopted it up with a 75-65 setback to North Carolina on Tuesday. The drive across the program is nearly gone, and now the workforce should discover a solution to regain it, and all of it begins with coaching.
Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney talked about how final Thursday’s train was subpar. It was a purple flag that went into the Wake Forest recreation, and it turned out to be costly ultimately. That lack of focus was not the case when Jeff Capel spoke to the media on Thursday.
“I assumed we did it immediately,” Capel mentioned when requested if his workforce educated with an edge.
Pitt Sophomargard Ithel Horton agreed with that evaluation. He felt a aggressive character across the workforce, and it began with altering a couple of issues in coaching from a employees perspective.
“I believe what actually helped was that the coach took up the workforce,” Horton mentioned after Thursday’s apply. “Similar to me immediately, I went up in opposition to Nike and ‘Diese a few occasions. Simply combine the groups and maintain issues contemporary. Generally you lose your edge when the primary workforce at all times goes in opposition to the second workforce. ”
Pitt basketball workforce has had massive wins throughout the earlier two seasons, however when a shedding stretch began, the workforce is torn down on the stretch. Pitt tries to keep away from that sort of downward spiral and it begins on Saturday when Pitt hosts a 5-9 Notre Dame workforce on the Petersen Occasions Middle.
Capel hopes his workforce will begin taking possession in the case of motivating one another. He is searching for his teammates like Johnson, Toney and Justin Champagnie to make the leap and be that voice within the locker room and court docket for his teammates.
“The actually good groups have guys in that locker room who perceive the significance of profitable and the significance of issues going into profitable,” Capel mentioned. “We’re a program that learns to try this. We didn’t deal with nicely final week, and there’s no respect for any opponent. We didn’t deal with some success nicely. Hopefully we deal with it higher this week. ”
Horton was round final yr’s workforce, despite the fact that he couldn’t play as a consequence of NCAA switch guidelines. The Panthers suffered a pricey seven recreation shedding streak alongside final season’s stretch to complete all post-season jumps. Horton believes that this workforce is healthier outfitted to take care of the adversity of a loss and reply to it in a constructive approach.
“I believe the large distinction this yr is that guys are extra purchased in and guys have extra religion and consider in what we do and what we do each day,” he mentioned. “So I believe it is simpler for us to get collectively this yr vice versa final yr the place we solely had a bunch of fellows.”
Pitt will begin a troublesome stretch of video games within the coming days. The Panthers host Notre Dame on Saturday, then observe it up with three straight video games in opposition to ranked opponents. Pitt will host Virginia Tech and Florida State, earlier than a street recreation with Louisville within the subsequent two weeks.
Horton sees the workforce leaders rise this week to maintain the workforce locked within the process.
“I imply we’ve got our common guys like Justin, X and ‘Diese, guys who actually arise within the locker room and inform us to get collectively and focus once more as a result of we’re having an extended season,” Horton mentioned.
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