Basket Pitt | “Humble and hungry” Panthers prepare for Xavier | Pennsylvania
GREENSBORO, NC — After Pitt’s NCAA Tournament upset by sixth-seeded Iowa State on Friday, their locker room whiteboard read “humble & hungry” with “1-0” written underneath.
It was a phrase Nelly Cummings also used in her post-match interview.
“We’re humbled, we’re hungry and we’re going to keep going for whatever we can get,” Cummings said.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Cummings told the Tribune-Democrat in Pitt’s locker room on Saturday. “We’ve had some successes and some failures, so throughout this we try to stay humble and hungry every time.”
This has been a mantra for the team for much of the year and has seen them through the ups and downs of the season.
Cummings said assistant coach Tim O’Toole was the one who wrote the phrase on the whiteboard Friday, but it’s something head coach Jeff Capel has been preaching all year.
“Coach (Capel) makes sure we stay balanced even when we’re successful, and that’s where the humble and the hungry come from,” said guard Jamarius Burton.
“Coach has stayed in our ear about staying balanced, like (Burton) has said, through all the ups and downs we’ve been through all season,” added Nike Sibande.
Capel says his players’ ability to stay balanced has been very important to the team’s success this season, although he admits it’s not something he himself has always struggled with. TO DO. Remembering words of wisdom from his late father – Jeff Capel II, who was also a coach – helped him do just that.
“I think that’s an area that maybe I grew up in as a coach, and maybe I got a little bit better with that,” Capel said. “I remember my dad always saying the highs can’t be too high, the lows are never as low as you think. It’s somewhere in the middle.
“As I get older, I think I understand that a little bit better.”
Capel also paid tribute to his players for staying steady all season and not getting too emotional during games.
“The leadership of our team has done an incredible job in this regard. We’ll have downtime and things will be hectic and I hear them saying, ‘Let’s go back to neutral, let’s go back to neutral,’ Capel added.
As for the “1-0” written on the team’s whiteboard, Capel says it’s something that has also carried the Panthers through the season.
“The theme we’ve had all year is just to be 1-0,” Capel said. “Don’t look ahead. Don’t look behind us. Focus on the next step, which is right in front of us. And the guys have done a good job of that.
Hearing his players speak, it is clear that the message has passed.
“Keeping our eyes on the prize and really staying in the moment. Stay and lock yourself in and take the next step. He always talks about just taking the next necessary step, not thinking too far,” Sibande said. “We just try to attack the day and attack the next game for sure.”
Forward Blake Hinson says the 1-0 theme doesn’t just apply to game days.
“We always try to be 1-0 every day. I mean, of course on match day, but, like, 1-0 even today in training, we try to win that day” , Hinson said. “Then when we come to the game, we try to be 1-0 down. We don’t think of anything else for the future. We are thinking about the next step ahead of us.
Pitt’s next challenge will be to go 1-0 against No. 3 seed Xavier, led by coach Sean Miller. Miller is a native of Ellwood City and a Pitt alumnus. He was a starter for four years for the Panthers and remains one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in Pitt history, ranking second to teammate Jason Matthews with a 41.6 3-point shooting percentage. during his stay in Oakland.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that Xavier is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in college basketball, boasting the second-highest 3-point shooting percentage in the nation.
In the two tournaments Pitt won this year, the Panthers faced two defensive-minded teams in Mississippi State and Iowa State. Now they will face the 12th best offense in the country. Xavier averages 81.4 points per game.
“It’s a completely different style to what we’ve played in the last two games,” Capel said.
“It’s another level. Xavier is good defensively, but they’re really good offensively. So our mindset has to change. Our game plan is going to change. We have to be able to come out and execute it against a team. really, really talented.
Despite being prolific from beyond the arc all season, the Musketeers struggled in their matchup with 14th seed Kennesaw State on Friday, making just two 3-pointers against the Owls and not shooting just 16.7% from 3 points. However, Xavier was still able to come back after dropping 13 points midway through the second half. The Musketeers went on a 15-0 run and came away victorious. “It’s a very good basketball team, and it will be a big challenge for us,” Capel said.
Pitt and Xavier will give a tip at 12:10 p.m. Sunday from the Greensboro Coliseum and will air on CBS.