Capel hiring checks off many of Panthers’ boxes

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — It took a while for Pitt to find a new basketball coach, but it looks like a solid hire for a program that needs a lot of help.

Duke assistant Jeff Capel is expected to be introduced at a news conference today. Then he has to get busy –hire a staff, establish a recruiting plan, meet with the players remaining from last year’s team.

This is a choice that should energize a fan base that has abandoned Pitt basketball with alarming speed over the last two years.

Coincidentally, Pitt also reached a settlement with Kevin Stallings on the remainder of his contract on Tuesday. End that regrettable era, and start the new one.

There’s a lot to like about Capel. He has head coaching experience. He’s been coach Mike Krzyzewski’s top assistant for the last four years. He has a reputation for successful recruiting. He’s been closely associated with a program that has success and apparently functions within the rules. He knows the ACC.

With the program in disarray, this choice is exactly what Pitt needs.

New rules

Not that it does the Steelers any good three months after the fact, but Jesse James’ catch against New England really will be a catch this season.

Instead of nitpicking things down to a frame-by-frame review, the officials will now take a common sense approach to define a catch. So James’ catch in the playoff game against New England would be upheld now rather than overturned.

At least refer to it as the Jesse James Rule.

Crowded pen

Major league teams used to carry 10 pitchers. Some would even get by with nine.

The Pirates are opening the season with 13 pitchers on the roster, eight of them in the bullpen.

This speaks to the concern about how many innings this inexperienced starting staff will be able to provide.

It will also handcuff Clint Hurdle when it comes to using pinch hitters. Two of the Pirates’ bench players, Sean Rodriguez and Adam Frazier, can play a variety of positions.

That helps, but there are still only four extra players on the bench. One of those is the backup catcher, and teams try to avoid using their extra catcher unless absolutely necessary.

The Pirates are covered in the bullpen, but there will probably be some awkward moments where they have to preserve the bench in the late innings.

Last call

The Guess How Many Games The Pirates Will Win contest is winding down. The contest closes Friday at 5 p.m.

It couldn’t be easier. You e-mail me two numbers — your prediction for this season’s win total and (as the tiebreaker) the number of home runs you think they’ll hit. (Last year they won 75 games and hit 151 home runs).

It costs nothing to enter and you could win the prize, a box of leftover Pirates promotional stuff.

Still waiting to hear from some of the regulars. Don’t let your record of 100 percent participation lapse. If you’re not computer/device savvy, ask the kids or grandkids for help.

After this, I’ll have to fill space with actual content instead of plugs for the contest.

The official e-mail address is right here.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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