Pitt coach Jeff Capel says he was 'close' to being hospitalized for COVID-19, says 'I don't think [college basketball] should be playing right now' | Zagsblog
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Friday / April 23.
  • Pitt coach Jeff Capel says he was ‘close’ to being hospitalized for COVID-19, says ‘I don’t think [college basketball] should be playing right now’

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    Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel said he was “close” to being hospitalized for COVID-19 and doesn’t believe college basketball should be playing now due to the virus.

    Pitt announced Dec. 19 that Capel has tested positive for the virus. On Monday, the school also announced its game with No. 20 Duke would be postponed Wednesday following “a positive test, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Pitt men’s basketball program.” The school did not specify who tested positive.

    Asked how his earlier COVID experience was Monday on a Zoom call, Capel said, “It was a bitch, to be honest with you. It was tough, it was tough. I had symptoms and it was difficult dealing with the symptoms, the isolation was hard. I understand a little bit better now why solitary confinement is a form of punishment.

    “I understand why Tom Hanks painted a volleyball and turned it into ‘Wilson’ and why he lost his mind when ‘Wilson’ went away [in ‘Castaway’.] It’s difficult, the isolation is difficult, the different symptoms and thinks like that. I’m very fortunate I didn’t have it as bad as some people have and I didn’t have to be hospitalized. I was close but I’m very fortunate that I didn’t have to do that. But it’s a bitch.”

    Capel joined a list of high-profile college coaches to test positive that includes Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Ole Miss’ Kermit Davis, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard and Villanova’s Jay Wright.

    Echoing previous comments, Capel said he doesn’t think college basketball should be going on right now.

    “I still feel the way that I feel,” he said. “When you look around at some of the things that are going on in the country with this virus, with this disease, and you see the impact that it’s having on people, that it’s having on families, that it’s having on our country and you listen to people talk about don’t travel, don’t do these things and things like that, it just doesn’t feel right, especially at our level.

    “The players aren’t getting paid to do this. It’s different to me when you’re a professional athlete. That’s your job and you can make a choice whether you want to do it. On the professional level, the rules are the same for each team. The leagues determine what the protocols are. Our protocols aren’t across the board. You got some teams that test every day, you got some teams that test three times a week. You have some conferences that do something different.

    “I don’t think that we should be playing right now, but I don’t think my experience of having COVID strengthened that at all. I also think there are a lot of things you don’t know about, a lot of long-term effects.”

    He mentioned the collapse of Florida’s Keyontae Johnson, who is now back with his team at practice but not practicing himself. Florida coach Mike White said Johnson blew the whistle at practice a few times, but there is no timetable on his return.

    “We’re excited to be back with Keyontae and we’re taking it one day at a time right now,” White said Monday on the SEC call.

    “We’re extremely grateful and thankful to everyone in this country and throughout the world who prayed for him.”

    For privacy reasons, Florida has not announced whether Johnson had COVID, which can lead to a heart condition called myocarditis.

    “It’s amazing to me that this thing with the kid Keyonate Johnson, and thank God that he’s better, but it sounds like to me it had something to do with COVID, with the myocarditis,” Capel said, “and it’s absolutely amazing to me that it’s not a bigger story.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.