Pittsburgh basketball preview!

#94 R.P.I. Pitt #135 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:

Virginia Tech men’s basketball returns to work after -we all hope- a restive and recuperating near full week of O&M R&R worth of downtime or being just plum hardwood off. This recreating respite occurred after being more than a little off during a pretty well now fugly looking 1 single solitary VicTory jaunt since the middle of January vs. a spiraling 6 L’s in our last seven. i.e. this former post-season nearly assured men’s hoops club is now an iffy looking or a possible spring broke 14-10 overall (and 5-8 in the A.c.c.) club.

The Hokies now host my hometown Pittsburgh Panthers who check-in at a likewise win needy 15 up vs. 10 down for the regular season (and 6-8 in the A.c.c.). As both teams really do need this win like a dead-man needs a coffin. As an L here -either way- could prove rather undertaking come Much Madness on spring break 2020. What with not less than eight (that’s 8) All Coaching Conference teams all mid-range jumbled up standings wise at the moment. Nevertheless, what you wanna know is… who is gonna win and by how much; right? So read on, to find… out!

Pittsburgh Head Coach: Felton Jeffrey Capel III: age=43, 201–135* (.598) overall, 26–25 (.510) at Pitt. (know as a defensive coach with a penetrating O and with some recruiting)
$950,000 (base), (with: $525,785 in OK and Duke residuals +bonus/kickers)

Baby Capel is from a basketball family. His father is basketball coach Jeff Capel II, former assistant coach for the Charlotte Bobcats and former head coach at Old Dominion University, and his younger brother Jason played basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was the head basketball coach at Appalachian State University. As a senior at South View High School in Hope Mills, North Carolina, baller Capel led his team to the 1993 state championship defeating Charlotte powerhouse South Mecklenburg 53–52 with a last-second cardiac clutch make. He also set school career records in points (2,066), rebounds (669), and assists (663).

The jury is still out, here…

Baller Capel ran hoops at Duke University (1993–1997), where he earned a starting position as a freshman and was a starting guard on the basketball team for four years. On February 2, 1995, in the regular-season game played at home against UNC, with Duke trailing 95–92 at the end of the first overtime, Capel hit a running 40-foot shot at the buzzer which sent the game into double overtime. Although Duke lost the game 102–100, Capel’s shot was hailed as one of the most memorable plays in Duke basketball history, and it was nominated for an ESPY Award for College Basketball Play of the Year. Capel’s college career was marked with success. During his years as a Blue Devil, he racked up 1,601 points, 433 assists, and 220 three-point field goals. He finished his career among Duke’s all-time Top 10 in minutes played, three-point field goal percentages, three-point field goals, and assists. Also earning his Duke.edu degree.

Pro’ Capel played professional basketball for two years, playing in France and the CBA. Capel was also drafted in 1997 by the Raleigh Cougars of the USBL.

(nepotistic) Coach Capel began his coaching career serving as an assistant coach under his father, Jeff Capel II, at Old Dominion University for the 2000–2001 season. In 2001, he joined the coaching staff of Virginia Commonwealth University as an assistant. He was promoted to head coach of the Rams for the 2002–2003 season—making him, at the time, the youngest head coach in Division I men’s college basketball (27 years old). In his four years as head coach at VCU, Capel guided the Rams to a record number of wins (79) and the highest winning percentage (.658) of any Division I program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Following the 2003–04 season, Capel was named both the Richmond Times-Dispatch and VaSID State Coach of the Year after leading the Rams to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996.

On April 11, 2006, Capel was named the head coach of the Oklahoma men’s basketball team, succeeding Kelvin Sampson. As the big whistle for the Boomer Sooners, Coach Capel had one really sharp Blake Griffin fueled season (Elite-8), made the round of-32 one other time and was spring broke and Merrill Lynch (see: below) scandalized in the meantime. As Coach Capel teams seem to be either: very very good, C+ good or not good at all. (i.e. not a middle ground or WWI type of coach).

On May 8, 2011, it was announced that Jeff Capel would be joining the staff of Mike Krzyzewski at his alma mater, Duke University, as an assistant coach. Coach Capel coached one game for the back-surgery (may St.Wolfgang help) riddled/pretzeled coach-K. Then he moved on to a thus far pretty .5oo adhesive run while attempting to rebuild the once pretty dang sharp hooping Panther’s program.

Daddy Capel is married to Duke alumna Kanika Réale Blue. They were married in 2003. The two had their first child on April 26, 2007, Cameron Isabella Capel. Two years later, the two had a daughter, Sydney Gabrielle Capel, and three years after that,
they had a son, Elijah Blue Capel.

*  At Oklahoma, two seasons ago… all wins were subsequently vacated due to using of an ineligible player, Keith “Tiny” Gallon, who had received impermissible M.Lynch benefits

Pittsburgh at a glance:

  • 21st best in turnover margin!
  • 44th in offensive rebounding!
  • 82nd most FTA’s per game.
  • 3o6th in offensive FG percentage!
  • 311th in offensive 3-point shooting percentage!
  • 335th in defensive rebounding!!!
  • (Pitt is a very trimodal looking team upon statistical review, a few things good, several things medium and more than a few things suspect. As there is a perceptually skewing right-sided (or negative) tail here).
  • (3 injuries listed. Coach God triune bless!)

Panther Returning Starters=zip, zero, zilch!

Pitt Strengths:

  • Trey McGowens is a 6′4″, 19o lb., second-season Hargrave Military Academy kid who is, therefore, a year older than his Roster {sic: looks}. McGowens is a lean looking kid upon breaking-tape, although he balls stronger than he looks— it still looks like he could add a protein shake, or three. Still yet, right now Trey leads the Panther way with 12.6 ppg. He also scrapes up 3.4 rpg, with a beta-best 3.6 apg and an alpha-best 1.8 spg. So that’s pretty well-rounded work for a sophomoric baller. Prior to all of that, Trey finished 4th in the Nation at H.M.A. and he was the South Carolina AAAA Player of the Year as a Junior. McGowens was a part-time footballer, and he was a consistent mid-20’s scorer scholastically in hoops who dabbled in triple-doubles here-n-there. The book here reads… Trey is a uber-talented backcourt prospect; he fields a scorers’ mentality per the ability to put up points from all three levels (S, M, L). McGowens is an explosive leaper with the ability to dunk on opposing big men. His craftiness around the rim and in traffic enable him to get to the free-throw line and convert opportunities in the paint. Tough kid; as Trey camped most of this autumn with his honker in a mask (A.K.A. a broken nose). The only real knock here is the need to synthesize a more pure outside stroke. As 37% overall and 29% when dialing long-distance is indeed an orange-paint gone chippy disconnect. That said… Trey’s poppa-bear, Bobby, played football at Clemson before transferring to South Carolina State to play both football and basketball. Then daddy Trey left SC.State as the school’s all-time leading receiver and helped the basketball team to two NCAA Tournament appearances. Momma-bear: Pam, played basketball at Western Carolina and is the girls’ basketball coach at Wren High School. His younger bro’: Bryce, is a sophomore basketball prospect garnering Division I interest and is merely ranked 80th overall by Rivals in America. So the Human Genome Project has R.(oundball).N.A. galore. As Trey was a consensus Top-85 national pick and he is Pitt’s highest-rated national recruit since 2012!
  • G/F, ‘tweener and 6′6″, 2oo lb., Justin Champagnie (epic name) is a flashy debut season Wing. And he prolly could go get some urban modeling work in if he wanted it as I’d bet the over on his shellia tally here. Because after all, champagne is just Ginger Ale that knows somebody. (well, unless of course your Champagnie has been busting P.R. (personal records) and hitting for career highs recently on the reg’). That attempt at Hawkeye Pierce satire aside… this Champagnie has merely been averaging 17.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game while shooting 52.6% from the field over the past six games. (on: 12.5 ppg, with the team-best 7.3 rpg all on 43.3% from the floor and 28.4% long for the season so far). The rap-sheet here describes Justin as a: versatile, athletic, fluid Wing who is D-1 physically ready already. A dribble-drive finishing kinda guy with just enough J to keep you honest from the outside. He has a long wingspan (6-9) and a flashy well-quiffed look and finish to his game. Justin was the 111th ranked H.S. kid according to 247Sports and mighta been a scosche underrated coming outta non-inner-city NY State ball. Justin did merit entry into several slam-dunk competitions and he did really show-out in high school tourney and touring ball. Which tells you he has a shine for the spotlight itself. Good on Justin… as this is an interesting one come 2022. (ditto his: twin brother, Julian, (8.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg) who is a freshman on the legacy St. John’s basketball team. Where their father, Ranford, played college soccer at St. John’s and helped the Storm to the 1996 National Championship. Not ½ bad as family trees grow…
  • One, #1, 6′3″, 195 lb., Xavier Johnson did lead Pitt in scoring at 17 ppg on an agreeable 39% long last year. Tho’ X’ is way way down this season, all the way down to a bronze medalist or third-best 11.3 ppg on 33.3% behind the arc. X’ (still) is a capable (bad coaching pun insert (____) here, check!) X’ is still a capable scorer when he gets it going early; and a likewise loquacious A-side talker as this Johnson wears thigh-high compression sleeves on his, legs. No joke. Never seen this before and Eye hope Eye never see this; again. Nevertheless, X’ is street-rawboned-strong; stronger than his listed metrics indicate in point of fact. X’ is also yet another Commonwealth (7th in-state at Woodbridge, Va.) refugee/escapee. He is additionally quite a vertical baller what with having won the 2018 Courtside at the Cathedral dunk contest. X.Johnson clears you 3.8 boards and drops you a team-pacing and improved 5.3 dimes (apg). He is second in swipes (1.5 spg) and Johnson can intern at Smith & Wesson as a gunning champ. As confidence is not wanting here folks. The whispers say he’s: got terrific quickness, confidence, and competitive spirit; that he’s aggressive on both ends of the floor and that Johnson is an explosive athlete with elite speed. I’d have to make purchase on all of that after scouting him. As this X’ is a pro’, the only question is domestic or export? As he will N.b.a. Combine test like a mother and he can stick the 3. Struck me as a bit individualistic, although he’s from a family with poppa, brothers and cousins -plural mind yah- all at least playing D-1 college roundball and he is a pretty physically gritty kid for being a highflyer. Something that does not necessarily hold-historic-hands. So, let’s see where X’ is come 2021 or 2022 and let’s see if he is still @Pitt as well. As this kid did field, some very tight Assist to Turnover ratio handles (+2.76:1, if you need him) last year. Tho’ a b.Simpson butterfingers looking 3.44 tpg this year tells you just how much x.Johnson is pressing things right now on O.
  • 6′6″, 210 lb. off-G, yes, (a Guard) and nugget or rookie year voter Au’Diese Toney leads Pitt in rebounding with 5.9 caroms and while that’s pretty sharp backcourt Windex-work -if you can get it- and this R.A.T.T. says: frontcourt… what? Well, it also says that his 8.3 ppg on 25% deep and 36% regular need some work, although that level of rebounding at age 18 from a backcourter tells you he ain’t exactly phobic of… work itself. Ditto the fact that the insiders say he lives in the weight room and has stacked-up nearly 20 lbs. of right-mass since Au’Diese got to Pitt. That and his crazy nearly 6-10 wingspan explain a lot here. The tag’ here describes Toney (no 76’er Keystone State relation: think: Dr.J sidekick shooting-G Andrew); the tag’ here says that this Toney is a crafty baller with a full 3-level game. Inside, out(side) and midrange pops to boot. It also says he had a Hokie offer, that Toney was the 114th baller in the land per Scout, that he is an Honor Roll student, a fighty/scrappy guy on the court, and he himself says that he enjoys: “eating”. And, well… “So say we all.
  • r-Jr., Ryan Murphy is a 6′2″, 185 lb. second-year One or Pt.Guard who does a lotta little things medium-well. Ry’ gets you 9.6 ppg on 2.5 rpg, with 1.6 apg, and 1.0 steals; and that is not the worst fourth-wheel or quad-cog in any O. This from the Charlotte (played better) then New Mexico Ju.Co. (played worse) transfer Qb1 for hoops— and we all know about how I feel about three schools in as many seasons. The book, however, says that Murph’ is a drive-n-kick One who can shoot a bit from range (36%). He works-out in the offseason with none other than Step’ Curry, although it is whispered that his lateral quickness is wanting. This after being the no.41 JuCo prospect (247Sports) when he netted nearly 19 ppg out in New Mexico as a 1-2 slide over combo’ G. This after being AA Cali’ Player of the Year and the 6th best California high school baller in 2016. A tough kid to peg this Ryan… as part of his game says he can do mo’ and part of his game says he wants for headroom or is pressing up on his ceiling; if not bumping heads with his… roof.

Pitt Weaknesses:

  • Delaware portaling and pretty solid looking transfer Ithiel Horton (6′3″, 2oo lb.), is a lead-G who netted nearly 13 ppg for the Hens last year and is an eligibility see you this time next year mandatory sit out. As this Pitt backcourt coulda used Ithiel’s 39% deep and hard-nosed D (1.3 spg) this year.
  • 6′, 180 lb. back-up Pt.Guard Onyebuchi Ezeakudo and his rolled ankle (St.Phillip bless) are: “OUT INDEFINITELY” although the x-rays were negative here as this is a bad high-ankle sprain. Onyebuchi Ezeakudo had yet to put up any real digits (.2 ppg career on 25% overall); although the tip-end of the Pitt bench and practice rotations are none deeper for the presence of his absence up in Stiller country.
  • 6′9″, 229 lb., Stockholm Sweeden imported, P/F Kene Chukwuka is done for the year due to hip surgery. (Yikes and St.Elmo’ help!) As Kene had a keen shot at at least logging some decent back-up playing-time this season. After 4.4 ppg and 3.8 rpg last year in limited minutes in relief.
  • Coach Chapel is at least another -or possibly two mo’- years removed from finishing this reclamation job. And three graduating and two just up-n-leaving 2019 starters did not advance his timetable 1ι (one iota) either. (as in… it was not a metric ton of ppg and rpg that just left, it was, however, a buncha experience and learning-curve effects that must now be straightened back out).

Panther Bench: (depth=2’ish with 3 mo’ who log spot-minutes)

6′8″, 216 lb., Fr., Abdoul Karim Coulibaly, by way of far far away Bamako, Mali, is a P/F who looks more parts glider or maybe a stretch S/F to me. A.K.C. is a cunning looking Koufax or lefthander who can score on the block and step out to the perimeter. With solid passing ability from the high-post from a kid who balls with great energy and enthusiasm and is pretty dang active on both ends of the floor. Or a still developing energizer bunny off the Pitt pine-squad as every bench needs a Mr. Energy just add P.T. kid— as Coulibaly’s 1.7 ppg and 1.2 rpg on 35.1% shooting will have to 2023 wait.

Wichita State by way of UNC Greensboro and now Pitt Panther Eric Hamilton is a 6′9″, 230 lb., well-hewn looking g-Transfer Four or P/F banger. Eric is a just downright strong-looking kid who inflicts his way to a useful looking 5.4 ppg and 4.2 rpg as a frontcourt sub’. As this is a sweaty, heavy-industry Baltic Avenue man’s Wes Unseld with no houses and not even any trailers in situ. Tho’ e.Ham’ comes to work and he does work hard on tape and there are worse things anyone could say about any of us than that.

6′10″, 238 lb., third-year, P/F-C combo’ frontcourter Terrell Brown is 5.2 ppg and 3.6 rpg post who leads Pitt in swat-team work with 1.3 bpg off the pine. 52% shooting is not bad although this is a rim-protector and match-up big not a true box score stuffer. That said, t.Brown and his towering 7-3 wingspan and 9-1 standing reach can still do a lot for you as a defensive rebounder off the bench. (even if Brown’s pretty decent H.S. numbers (including 39% from 3-point-land) make you wonder if more was (eventually) more to be expected here— as he seems to have peaked a few years ago).

In order to rally, come correct, and snap this L'ing streak; we must do what(s)???

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Illationconclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of Panthers who could claw @Tech=4 maybe 5.

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… well, I sure hope we took away some vastly needed so-called: “fresh legs” from our recent downtime or hardwood time-off.

Because beyond hitting a hot-shooting night from range? We are who we are; and recently we have been a 3-point team that has died by the 3-point sword that is currently in quest of new 22 feet, 1¾ inches worth of life.

Pitt, however, is not beyond our depth.

Eye scouted them vs. Clemson and frankly -unless I saw their 2020 nadir game- frankly I was nowhere near as impressed as I expected to be.

As Pitt may enjoy a few more pieces overall than we do, although V.Tech has the best player on the floor (Nolley) and he seemed to be showing some signs last time out vs. BeeCee.

Or in other words… I’m pretty dang happy this one is @home.

As this lends us a fair to middling shot in this one here.


Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame is calling for a mind-numbing 53-point Pittsburg Panther Hokiebird total mauling!

Even so, here is the caveat… the Forum Guide —even as imbalanced as it can indeed sometimes be? It is the ONLY thing that has correctly called for this recent Youngling schneid. And even on a per capita basis, it is still calling for a 7-point Pitt VomiT. The thing, however, that jumped up on me when constructing the Forum Guide was… Pittsburgh hass -other than Clemson- Pitt has swept or at least split with every A.c.c. team that has tamed us.

Additionally, Miami and Gah.Tech were both played by V.Tech and by Pitt within the realm of each team’s most recent 5-game statistical matrix presented below. When taken as a textbook Recency Effect or as a 2-team Forum Guide alone… they are calling for Pitt by 17 or at least by ~8 on a pro-rata basis. Do you see what I mean? (this is a bad look overall and near-term alike; i.e. there is no textbook statistical variance to observe!)

The annualized year-to-date vitals say that… V.Tech is up +2% in shooting percentage margin (all on O with D virtually even); V.Tech is up a useful +6% in 3-point percentage margin (most of which was per O&M marksmanship or offensive acumen); and oddly enough… rebounding margin was a virtual push with both teams hovering at 1 carrom and change on the glass for the duration.

The most recent 5-game metrics say that… the Hokies are now up +1% in shooting percentage margin (just a smidgeon ahead on O); however, it is the Panthers who are tickling the trifecta twine and are up a very lucrative looking +9% in 3-point percentage margin (per a little bit more on O, tho’ advantageous enough on D to boot);  with Pitt now up nearly 2 boards in |absolute value| terms as both teams are negative in rebounding margin (although Pitt is less negative in Windex work of late).

Pitt is up +3% at the charity stripe for the year.
V.Tech is a nearly unheard of +9 in R&R in the last 3-weeks.
V.Tech is a .714 as you host; whereas Pitt is merely .286 as your guest.

  • Pitt has won five consecutive A.c.c. home games and has really fattened and feasted their overall 2019-2020 marker @home this campaign. (i.e. this is the first step in re-learning how to succeed; i.e.e. most organizations learn how to successfully defend the Homefront, first… tho’… when will they learn how to travel well (pardon the hardwood, pun))? (with this being the Panthers first 5-straight home winning streak since 2012!)
  • The Panthers rank third in the A.c.c. in offensive rebounds per game (11.96) and offensive rebound percentage (33.3%). Further, Champagnie has a team-high 57 offensive boards, while Toney and Eric Hamilton have 44 and 40 offensive rebounds, respectively.
  • Trey and Xavier have been chilly of late. Like 10% chilly combined their last time out. That and there are whispers that this 2020 Panther club is vulnerable to zone-defensing.
  • A.c.c.ordingly… McGowens is netting 31.4% from the floor in 14 A.c.c. games whereas Johnson is only making 32.7%. As Pittsburgh ranks last in field-goal percentage in Atlantic Coast Conference games (39.4%)!
  • Virginia Tech has now matched its longest L skid (5-games) since 2015-16.
  • The Hokies won the rebound battle against BeeCee (33-32) for the first time in 10 games. However, they still rank 11th in the A.c.c. this year in rebound margin (0.8 rpg).
  • Virginia Tech has won the last four games in the series and three straight in Blacksburg.

The Call

No.92 Net Ranking Pittsburgh @ no.77 Net Ranking Virginia Tech:

So, while scouting Pitt vs. Clemson on Wednesday night… Eye was feeling pretty prone to pick the homesteading team here. Mo’ rest, fresher-legs, and Pitt has to sojourn 322 miles while our Hokiebird’s rest in their very own nest.

Then I ran the Forum Guide digits and the more relevant 5-game trends and suddenly I was feeling more parts pronate indeed.


As I am now officially wondering out-loud (and we all know just how dangerous that can be) … just how many more wins do Young and Co. have in them?

6 PM kick-off!

And as absurd as this would have last month seemed… could our beloved Hokiebird get skunked from here on out?

As the virtual 7:3 ESPN split-up above (now) strikes me and Coach Spock as being science-fact or objectively, bizarre.

V.Tech may be a credible slight home favorite in this one (say 51-55% give/take); as it would be a bit elastic to call for the Keystone State visitor to be the favored to successfully siege this Commonwealth Cassell when the A.c.c. visitor only succeeds 30% of the time out on the inter-league road historically.

Nonetheless, this one is much closer to a sister-kisser or push type ‘cap to me.

Pitt is not the worst match-up, Pitt is less healthy than us and we are @home with our freshest legs since Maryland-Eastern Shore.

That quantum sures me up just a jot, 0r a speck.

Making this one speculative pick, …indeed.


(51confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=71, Pittsburgh=7o







may St.Valentine, bless!