The New Times Have Arrived

Despite their elimination from March Madness, Pitt basketball has returned to relevancy, and the future promises even more.


The Tribune-Democrat

Forward Guillermo Diaz Graha had an impressive showing against the Iowa State Cyclones with nine points and eight rebounds.

Manas Kathir, Sports Editor

The Pitt Men’s Basketball season has unfortunately come to an end, but it truly feels like a new beginning. After being irrelevant for quite a while, the basketball program seems to be back on its feet and relevant again. 

It all began with Jeff Capel III, who has coached the team since 2018 and seems to have found a recipe for success. Receiving the ACC Coach of the Year Award, Capel has gotten recognition from all over the college basketball universe — and it is definitely understandable as to why that is. 

The program, for the first time in a while, was able to qualify for the NCAA March Madness Tournament and had a lot of success. As the 11th seed, they went up against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in which they barely sealed the victory, 60-59. Off of great performances by Guard Nelly Cummings, who had fifteen points and four assists along with Guard Greg Elliot, who scored thirteen points, it all came down to a Bulldogs three-point shot in the last moments of the game. However, the shot was just a little bit off as the Panthers moved on to the first round of the tournament. 

Taking on the sixth seed Iowa State Cyclones, the expectations were for this first-round matchup to be either a blowout in favor of the Cyclones or a close game. However, the result was not either of those possibilities. In fact, it was a blowout in favor of the Panthers during the whole game. With Cummings racking up 13 points and Elliot putting up ten points AND eight rebounds, the Panthers successfully moved into the second round. 

Making the city of Pittsburgh proud, the Panthers were underdogs from the start and slowly started emerging as a threat for any team. However, their luck did not last. Their next matchup in the second round was against the third seed Xavier Musketeers who were a championship favorite to many, entering the tournament. And in this game, they proved exactly why that is. Despite forward Blake Hinson’s 18-point night and guard Jamarius Barton’s 16 points, the Panthers were unable to outplay the Musketeers, losing in a final score of 84-73.

Pitt finished their season with 24 wins and 13 losses. They capped off their surprising year with a loss to the Duke Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament (Duke won the ACC Tournament) and a loss to the Xavier Musketeers in March Madness.

Now, the question is where they go from here. And the truth is they can only go up. With a fantastic coach who gets his players competing hard on both ends of the floor, the Panthers seem to be heading in a positive direction.

The basketball program has established itself as a winning environment, which should pull high school stars to come over and play for them. This will make it easier for the Panthers to reach elevated heights as they try to secure themselves at the top of the college basketball community.

 As Jeff Capel III stated about winning,”It takes discipline. It takes commitment. It takes sacrifice.”