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March 10, 2020

Jeff Capel

Trey McGowens

Justin Champagnie

Greensboro, North Carolina

Pittsburgh - 81, Wake Forest - 72

JEFF CAPEL: First of all I'm really proud of my team. I didn't think we defended well in the first half. One of our goals coming into the game was to force turnovers. I thought we did a good job there, we forced 18. We wanted to get the ball out of Childress's hands and so we tried to double him, really from the four-minute mark of the first half on, every time he was in the ball screen, and so our guys did a really good job of executing that.

I thought these two guys up here were tremendous. To play with poise, Trey made some big-time plays, a big-time pull-up jump shot, a big-time pass to Justin cutting on the baseline, and had some really good moments. For Xavier to have eight assists and only three turnovers, again, I thought he really stirred the engine for us and made some big-time plays.

And I thought two of our freshmen, Justin obviously and Karim, for those guys in this stage, their first game in the ACC tournament, to come and have the performances that they had is remarkable. And so proud of them, proud of all of our guys.

I feel for Wake. Brandon Childress has had an outstanding career. He's a kid I've known since he was young, over at Wesleyan, and have known his family forever and he's had a an amazing career. And Danny is a great guy, does a really good job with his team. You look at the improvement of guys individually and how much better they have gotten, particularly Sarr this year. So feel for them, but excited for us and excited to have an opportunity to play again.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Justin, being a New York guy, did you follow the ACC tournament much growing up? Were you a fan of some of the teams in this area or were you more just kind of a Big East guy or did you kind of dream of getting to play in this event, especially on Tobacco Road?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: I never really watched it. That's the truth. But I used to like watch St. John's because my dad went there, but it means a lot to come out here and get the opportunity to play on a stage like this.

Q. For both you guys, how beneficial was just having a little bit, a little bit of time off, I think it was five or six full days, and where were you guys physically before that stretch?
TREY MCGOWENS: Physically I feel like we were kind of drained, legs were dead, but mostly mentally the time off just gave us time to get our mind right, kind of get away from basketball a little bit.

JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: I think that helped us lot. I feel like getting away from basketball sometimes is good for us as kids, so we could like regain focus on like what's the task at hand. So I feel like it played a big part in how we came out here and played today.

Q. Justin, when you had 30 last time, we asked you if you were aware of that during the game. Did you know you hit that mark again and had the chance to break your career high there at the end with the free throws?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Yeah, that's why I held the ball. Murphy was telling me to him to give it to me so I said no, I'm going to hold it.

Q. For both you guys, seemed like as the game went on you got better and better on defense. What did you feel like was working? They were making everything in the first few minutes, but by the end you were really shutting them down. What happened and how did you improve as the game went on?
TREY MCGOWENS: I just feel like we just had to be in the right spots. We were kind of late in our rotations early in the game. The energy was there but it was just tough not being in the right spots.

JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: We were so focused on the offensive end that we kind of lacked on defense, so we just had to come out with more energy on the defensive end and just be in the right spots.

Q. Justin, you've got other guys on here that all had double-digit scoring. How much does that help you, knowing that you've got so many other guys, that the team has so many other options, how much does that help your game?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Yeah, because sometimes I can't always score the ball, so it's good to know that my teammates around me like always have support around me and that they're always playing and fighting together.

Q. Justin, was making the all-ACC freshman team something you were thinking about, and was not making it any kind of motivation?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: Yeah, I wanted to make that team. I felt like I should make it. I kind of felt disrespected when I found out I didn't make it, but at the same time I used it as motivation and I just came out here and showed why I should have been on the team.

Q. Between the seven-game losing streak and this being a win-or-go-home situation, for y'all as a team, I mean, how much urgency, aggression and intensity was there going into this game?
JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE: A lot. We always were talking about before the game started like just leave it out on the line, like whatever you got and be the better team. Don't want to go home, nobody wants to go home, so we're just going to keep fighting and keep pushing.

THE MODERATOR: All right we'll take questions for coach.

Q. How do you prepare your players for five games in five days?
JEFF CAPEL: Well, we just prepared for one. That's it. It was really, really important for us to finally get a break. We were the only team in the league that didn't get a bye. Our bye for whatever reason was at the end of the season. So to go this year, being the first year of 20 ACC games, league games, that's a lot, and we are -- this is not an excuse, this is just a fact, we are a very, very young team. And from January 4th until last Wednesday we were playing two games a week -- sometimes three games, three times a week.

I thought we hit a wall there after we won the game against Georgia Tech. We couldn't push through. So for us to have a chance after that game last Wednesday at Georgia Tech, we got back at 3:00 in the morning, but to give them Thursday and Friday off, and what I told them was just get completely away from basketball. We have been in this, we have been mired in this losing streak and there's a lot of stuff written, a lot of stuff said, and these young people read this stuff. As much as you don't want them to, they do, and it affects them.

But I just thought physically I thought we were drained but mentally I thought we were even more drained. We got back together on Saturday, and we really just had individual workouts because we didn't know who we were playing. So we got together and worked out for about 45 minutes to an hour, got a great lift in, but took the rest of the day off. Then we traveled here, and so really our focus is one game, all of our focus was on Wake Forest, that's it.

It's no need to worry about tomorrow or what's upcoming, because we have to earn the right to get there. And what we were able to do today we have earned the right to play tomorrow. We're going to play against a really good NC State team that's fighting for their post-season NCAA tournament life. We had a great game with them a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully we can be a little bit better tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned Justin earlier. Could you just go a little bit more in depth just about how aggressive he was both inside and outside on the offensive end and just how consistent he was from the start to the end of this ballgame.
JEFF CAPEL: Well, you know, you I think he's a really good player and I think he's been one of the five best freshmen in this league all year. I think his numbers show that. He's been our leading scorer and rebounder all year. That's a heck of a thing for a freshman. He's been -- I think he was in the top 10 in rebounding all year, and so he's had a heck of a season.

I thought he was the one that really hit the wall the hardest. This is different for a freshman, when you get to this level and the pressure and these games coming at you. So I thought all of our guys benefited, but I thought our freshmen really benefited the most.

He's able to shoot the ball from the perimeter. He's continuing to get better at putting the basketball on the floor. That's the next part of his game. He can finish around the basket. That's what he did in high school. In high school that's really what he did; he was mid-range to the basket, he didn't really shoot threes. The three-pointer is something that he's added since he's been here. He's really worked at it. He has the ability to do a lot of things.

Q. Given the short turnaround, how beneficial is it to be playing a team that you just saw less than two weeks ago?
JEFF CAPEL: Well, it helps. It helps because there's some familiarity, but they're really good and they're going to run a bunch of ball screens, they have multiple guys that can dribble, pass and shoot. I think Funderburk has been one of the most improved guys in our league; I think Johnson is one of the better guards in our league; Daniels has had a heck of a season; C.J. -- they can come at you in so many different levels. Their last game of the regular season, Beverly went nuts, and so they're a really good basketball team and it helps, but we worry a little bit about fatigue, but hopefully the adrenaline of still being alive and having the opportunity to play will push us through that.

Q. Jeff, you talked about Karim earlier; do you see something in these games where he's -- there's been a couple times this year where he's really shown a greater potential than maybe we have seen at other times. What is it about these games where he's able to come in and have some success?
JEFF CAPEL: I think he's a good player. That's the very first thing, and I think his transition to college has been a little bit tougher because of the language. He didn't get to spend a summer with us. He was with his country and they had an amazing run in their tournament, in the U-19s, but I just think the more game experience that he's got -- I think that every game he's played he's done a good job, and he's a guy that for whatever reason, he's been better in games than he's been in practice. And he's a gamer and I thought today he finished. I thought he did a really, really good job out there today.

Q. You opened your comments by saying there's been so much history in this building, so many great games played here. Given your history in this state, how important is it to you that Greensboro remains a part of the rotation for this tournament?
JEFF CAPEL: Well I think it's important. I mean, if you look at the history of this league, this is where the tournament traditionally was before we had expansion. I think it was here and Atlanta, in the Omni. That's the only two places I remember it being as I was growing up here.

You think of the greats of college basketball, they played in this building. This state loves basketball and they love the ACC. And you know, anytime you play here there's going to be passion in the building, there's going to be excitement, there's going to be people and there's going to be people that just love basketball. Certainly they have allegiance to their team, but they love basketball.

Q. I think it's awesome that you're actually on the bench beside your brother. Could you just speak on that a little bit and how that relationship is and like growing up was there times where you dreamed of this or did this just sort of work its way into fruition?
JEFF CAPEL: Number one, it's awesome to be able to work with my brother and to have him be a part of what we're trying to do and rebuild and all the things there.

It's not something that I dreamed of because I never dreamed I would be a coach. That's not something when I was younger -- hell, even when I was in college I never thought that I would do this. I got the bug a little bit later.

But once I got in the profession, I always wondered if there would be an opportunity for us to work together. And when this opportunity came available at Pittsburgh, one of the things that I knew, I understood that it was a major, major rebuild, and so for me it was very, very important for me to have people around me that I could trust, especially with my history and in coaching. I needed people that, number one, were good. And he's been a head coach, he knows this league, he played in it, he covered it, was a really good player in this league. He's able to teach, he's able to connect, he's been a head coach, so he has sat in the chair. But most importantly I trust him. And it's been terrific.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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