Thursday, March 09, 2006

Jeff Capel, 79-41 and updated

Update (FRIDAY, March 10): VCU has extended Jeff Capel's contract two years, keeping him with the Rams until 2012. See quotes below.

CAA Sidebar Two:

The men’s basketball coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, Jeff Capel, has solidified the Rams program in the four years he’s been head coach. Capel is already an established success at an age, 31, that most Division I coaches-in-the-making are still assistants.
Early in the Hofstra game Coach Capel reminds his players they, too, need to score points.
Capel says he loves Richmond. We’ll see. Because the offers for jobs elsewhere are going to keep coming.

It’s no secret Capel, who as a player started at Duke for four years, can coach. With a father who has coached at the collegiate and professional levels, Jeff’s pedigree is legit. He spent part of last summer as one of two assistant coaches of the Gold Medal-winning USA entry in the World University Games in Turkey.

Capel’s overall record to date, 79-41, is an improvement on what his three VCU predecessors, Mack MacCarthy, Sonny Smith and Mike Pollio accomplished in their first four years on the job. And, they all had prior head-coaching experience. By the way, only Smith lasted longer than four years. Sonny compiled a 136-127 record over nine seasons (1989-98); he is VCU’s all-time winner as a coach.

The gamble VCU took with replacing the overly seasoned windbag, MacCarthy, with a green but talented Capel has paid off. So, kudos to VCU President Eugene Trani for his vision, and I congratulate Capel for making his boss look good.

Now what?

Can Capel go on to establish VCU as the best team in an ever-improving Colonial Athletic Association? Or, frustrated with his inability to recruit quality big men to play in the Fan District, will he start listening to those offers? Will he start thinking he may have taken VCU as far as he can?
Nick George hits a sweet jumper in the Coliseum
Next year Capel loses Nick George, his most valuable player for the last two seasons. But he has a real comer on hand in freshman point guard Eric Maynor. Swingman Jesse Pellot-Rosa has the potential to become an all-conference player.

If Capel could travel through time and plug in a young Bernard Harris (VCU 1970-74) or Ren Watson (VCU 1975-79), he’d have a squad that would scare a lot of people. Alas, quality big men are in short supply at the mid-major level.

Having no idea whatsoever of what Jeff Capel’s personal or professional goals might truly be, I won’t guess at how long he is likely to coach at VCU. But I can say that as long as he does, VCU is lucky to have him. Capel is a class act.
Photo credit: F.T. Rea

Update quotes:

Regarding his contract extension Capel said, "I am very excited about remaining at VCU. We have done so many great things and have built such a strong foundation with the help of all the VCU fans. It is truly an honor to be part of such a remarkable program. I cannot thank the VCU family enough for its passionate support."

"Jeff is an asset to VCU athletics and the entire University," said University President Dr. Eugene Trani. "We feel the contract extension solidifies and assures the stability of the future of one of VCU's very important programs."

No comments: