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NC State Basketball

Jeff Capel: "It's Incredible Growth For Us"

December 2, 2022
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Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel met with the media following the Panthers' 68-60 win over NC State Friday evening.

NOTE: Click on the video in the player above to watch Capel’s press conference.


Opening Statement

First and foremost, I’m really, really proud of my team. What a tough effort to be able to go on the road for the first game in the ACC against an outstanding opponent, to defend the way that we did, and to play with the toughness and the togetherness that we had for 40 minutes. I’m really proud of the effort that our guys gave. NC State, coming in, played the fastest pace in the league, averaging 83 points a game and nine threes a game. I thought our defense was outstanding throughout. I thought we were incredibly connected, played really hard, and made things difficult for them. We were able to get some stops and get out of transition, and I thought we did a pretty good job executing once we got strong. I thought there was a moment there in the first half where we didn’t play as strong as needed against their pressure. Once we corrected that, I thought we were able to generate some good looks. Jamarius [Burton] was outstanding on both sides. Obviously, [he was outstanding with] the scoring and the big shots. I thought he did equally as good of a job defensively, guarding one of the best guards in the country in [Terquavion] Smith. Our guys took on that challenge. We knew it wasn’t a one on one challenge. We had to do it collectively as a group, and we did that. I thought Federiko [Federiko] was outstanding, for him to have to defend multiple ball screens so far away with how they shoot the basketball in a possession, and then come back on offense and set multiple ball screens, rim run, and put pressure on the rim, and the energy that he played with. [Nike] Sibande made some huge shots for us when they kind of got to a run, great skip pass, and he made a three right in front of our bench that extended our lead and gave us a little bit of a cushion and kind of stymied their run a little bit. Again, I’m just really proud of our guys. It’s a big time win. We’ve got to keep trying to get better.

On going into halftime with the lead after Blake Hinson picked up two fouls within the first five minutes…

I thought it was our bench guys. Nike’s a sixth starter for us, but he comes off the bench. I thought Jorge [Diaz Graham] gave good minutes. He rebounded well. He defended well. I thought Nate [Santos] gave a really good two minutes, and obviously Federiko [played well]. That’s four guys off our bench that came in, especially in the first half with Blake in foul trouble. Nike played with two fouls. Those guys came back in, gave us good minutes, and were smart in those moments to not pick up a third. It’s incredible growth for us.

On Sibande’s growth since the VCU game…

He’s getting healthier and trusting his knee more. He’s also understanding his role on this team, what we need him to do, and him feeling more comfortable and confident in what’s need from him. He has unbelievable support from his teammates, and that’s something that’s really big. Those guys are so happy to have him, so proud of him for what he’s going through and how he’s battled back, and you watch plays he makes and the things he does; there’s no one more excited than his teammates.

On John Hugley, IV…

Well, he’s got to play better. That’s the bottom line. He has to play better. There are opportunities that are there. He’s really, really important for us, but he’s got to play better.

On the veteran guards making big shots to stop NC State runs…

Our guys have a lot of confidence. They have a lot of confidence in themselves and what we do. They have a really good feel of what we’re looking for and the things that are open. They have a really good feel for sharing the basketball and trying to make the right play. We had some guys that stepped up, got fortunate, and made some big-time shots. They weren’t afraid in the moment on the road with the crowd going nuts. They had a little bit of momentum, and those guys stepped up and made big plays.

On if he thinks Nelly Cummings should shoot the basketball more…

Man, we just won. We just won two road games. I’m not worried about any of that stuff.

On if they’re defense pushed NC State out of its comfort zone...

I just thought we did a good job. I don’t know if we forced them outside of their comfort zone, but I thought we just did a really good job. We wanted to take them off the three-point line. We really needed to play and compete on the basketball when we’re guarding them. I think they have some outstanding one-on-one players. Our ball screen defense, we needed to do that. [D.J.] Burns got going in the first half and made some big plays. We’ll live with that. That’s contested. That’s two-pointers. Contested two-point shots, we want teams taking [those]. I thought we fought throughout and really did a good job of understanding tendencies.

On limiting NC State’s leading scorers…

I’m proud of our whole defense for everything that we did. We competed for 40 minutes. Like I said, there are some things we have to improve, certainly defensive rebounding, but to be able to come on the road, the first ACC game for a lot of these guys, in a hostile environment against an outstanding team, a team that's averaging 83, to hold them to 60, to hold them to six threes — they were making nine a game — and to turn them over 12 times, that's a big-time performance.

On the turnovers in the second half…

It was just trying to reinforce, correcting some things, making sure we were over a little bit earlier with our help defense, and being a little bit more active. We got a feel for some of the things they were doing. We were able to get in passing lanes and get some steals. Again, it’s all the credit to our guys for how hard they played and competed.

 
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