Pitt to honor Jerome Lane, defense faces major challenge

Challenge Wake Forest presents as the Panthers look to bounce back
Jeff Capel screaming
Photo credit Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Wednesday the Pitt basketball program will honor Jerome Lane during the game against Wake Forest at 7p on 93.7 The Fan. It’s more than just recognizing the man who shattered a backboard.

Ever since he got here, Panthers Head Coach Jeff Capel started a ‘brick-by-brick’ tradition where former players sign bricks that are shown off in the locker room. It’s that they were the building blocks of the program. After the win at Georgia Tech, he had three former players in the room after the game. He’s done it for various other games.

He believes honoring Lane, or previously Brandin Knight or Charles Smith, and others, is important to the growth of Pitt basketball.

“They have such pride in this place,” Capel said Monday. “They love it. Any time you can have those guys back around and to honor them for their achievements. It’s something that’s very, very special.”

“This program has a really rich tradition and a very, very good tradition. We want our current guys to see it. We want future recruits to see it because we want them to know they are part of something bigger than them.”

This past summer they had a number of former Pitt players play against the current team. He called it an incredibly competitive game with some guys who are playing or have played professionally including Brad Wanamker, Jamel Artis, Sam Young, LeVance Fields, Sheldon Jeter and Ryan Luther. DeJuan Blair, Chevy Troutman and a few others attended, but didn’t play.

“They spent time talking to them, teaching them. We went back to the locker room all together afterwards. Anytime we can have those guys back it was awesome.”

Heads Up

Capel said the spirit was great the first time the team got back together after the loss at home to Florida State.

“The energy was great,” Capel said. “They talked. They were upbeat and excited about the next opportunity. When we got together, I felt the same thing.”

“We’ve been pretty good this year wins and losses of moving on to the next thing. I don’t expect us to change things.”

Appleby in the Neighborhood

Pitt has faced some great individual players this year—Hunter Dickinson (Michigan), Terquavion Smith (NC State) and Armando Bacot (North Carolina), but no one like Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby.

The 6-foot graduate student from Florida and Jacksonville is second only to Smith and tied with Bacot averaging 17.8 points a game. He leads the ACC with six assists a game and no one in the league has shot 235 times with a better percentage (.455) than Appleby. He also shoots 40% from three, 83% from the foul line and is second in the ACC with 36 steals.

“He’s dynamic,” Capel said. “First and foremost he’s really confident, I mean very confident. He plays with a sway, an edge. He has the green light. He’s fast. He’s crafty with the ball. He can shoot it. He can change speeds. He’s dynamic.”

“I’ve been very, very impressed with him watching him on tape. He plays with a joy. He loves to play basketball, loves to compete and I think that team takes its lead from him.”

It’s not just him, the Demon Deacons are fourth in the ACC in scoring (77.3 points), second in Field Goal Percentage (.467), second in 3-Point FG Percentage (.374).

Capel said guard Cameron Hildreth can beat you off the dribble and leads the team at 6.4 rebounds a game. 6’11” forward Andrew Carr leads the teams in blocks, second in rebounds and shoots it at 50% from the floor. 6’6” guard Damari Monsanto is the second leading scorer hitting 60, three-pointers on 146 attempts.

“He doesn’t have a conscience,” Capel said. “Even if he does miss, he doesn’t let it affect him. He has convenient amnesia. He’s one of these guys that if he misses, there is something wrong with the ball or the rim, it’s not him.”

Wake plays at the fastest pace in the ACC and love to get into transition. Capel said he’s been reminding his players that they will make tough shots, but as long as they are playing good defense, they can’t put their heads down. He felt they did that against Florida State. If the Panthers do it Wednesday, the 14-6, 6-3 ACC Demon Deacons could make it two straight losses.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports