Take 5 | Don’t get too excited about the Steelers, Capel not to blame for off-the-court issues

Pitt+men%E2%80%99s+basketball+head+coach+Jeff+Capel.

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt men’s basketball head coach Jeff Capel.

By The Pitt News Staff

In this week’s Take 5, The Pitt News sports desk takes a look at the recurring off-the-court issues with Pitt men’s basketball, an outlook for the rest of the Steelers’ season and more.

Off-court issues not a reflection of Capel // Frankie Richetti, Staff Writer

When police arrested Pitt junior guard Ithiel Horton last weekend on the South Side for allegedly assaulting a police officer, Pitt fans took to Twitter to criticize men’s basketball head coach Jeff Capel.

Capel should be held accountable for the revolving door of transfers within the program, failing to take the next step and other on-court issues. But the off-court issues should not be used to critique Capel.

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Horton is an adult. He — and nobody else — is responsible for his own actions. 

Capel shouldn’t be expected to hold his players’ hands. His job as head coach is to be a leader and to mold his players into not only better athletes, but better citizens and ambassadors for the University.

Sometimes that doesn’t happen, though — there’s only so much a coach can do. You can teach somebody right from wrong all day and night, but it’s up to them to apply those lessons and make their own decisions. 

As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. 

Ugly win for the Steelers feels like a loss // Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

The Steelers defeated the Chicago Bears 29-27 following a Bears’ missed 65-yard field goal at the end of the game on Monday night. The Steelers now sit at 5-3 and are on a four-game win streak. 

A four-game win streak heading into the second half of the season is great, but do not let it blind you from the problems that could ruin the Steelers’ season later on down the road.

Oddsmakers saw the Steelers as seven-point favorites heading into Monday night. If not for a questionable taunting call in the fourth quarter, the Steelers could have been upset on their own home turf.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t looked great this season. And Monday against the Bears was only the second multi-touchdown game for Roethlisberger all season.

Even the Steelers defense, which is usually stout, looked lackluster. The Bears, with rookie QB Justin Fields at the helm, tallied 27 points against a very talented defensive unit. The Steelers have only given up 27 points on one other occasion at this point in the season — against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

While a close home field win in primetime is always impressive to some degree, Steelers fans should approach the rest of this season with cautious optimism.

The Mets organization needs significant changes this offseason // Jack Markowski, For The Pitt News

Turmoil has characterized the New York Mets’ offseason. The organization had to rebuild their front office after a tumultuous first year under new ownership. Going forward, the New York Mets need to find stability and make significant changes to their organization.

The Mets hired Jared Porter as their general manager in December 2020, and brought in Zack Scott to be his assistant in the same month. Porter and Scott had worked together with the Red Sox from 2004-15. But neither individual is with the Mets any more. The club fired Porter in January for sexual harassment and Scott in late October for a DUI charge from September

This paints a picture of the issues at hand with the team’s hiring process and overall toxic culture that has been harbored over time, and it just simply isn’t acceptable. 

The team has found themselves in yet another managerial and GM search. It may be telling of the toxicity of the organization that many of the team’s preferred front office candidates have withdrawn their names from consideration.

If the Mets plan on establishing themselves as a top organization within the MLB, they need to step up and make significant changes as they look to hire new executives for prominent positions. 

Did the Washington Wizards fleece the Los Angeles Lakers? // Richie Smiechowski, Staff Writer

One of the most noteworthy moves of the NBA offseason was a trade between the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Lakers. The transaction sent star guard Russell Westbrook to LA along with two second-round draft picks in exchange for Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Lakers 2021 first-round draft pick.

Although we are still less than a full month into the nascent 2021-22 season, it’s looking like the Wizards got the better end of the trade.

Only comparing the records of both teams, Washington is currently tied for second in the Eastern Conference and only a half-game back of first. Meanwhile the Lakers are three and a half games out of first place in the West and are currently the No. 8 team in the conference. Keep in mind, most preseason predictions had Washington in the lower half of the conference with the Lakers being toward the top of the West.

Statistically, Westbrook’s stat line is solid, but pales in comparison to the career years Kuzma and Harrell are beginning to put together. Off the bench, Harrell is almost averaging a double-double and has even found himself as an early longshot MVP candidate, while Kuzma looks very comfortable in the role the Wizards have given him.

Again, this analysis is incredibly early and still needs a full season to play out. But what the Wizards needed most was defense and depth to support their bona fide superstar, Bradley Beal. It appears that they’ve finally been able to make that happen. 

The AFC is a pool of mediocrity // Zack Gibney, Senior Staff Writer

People typically have a good idea as to which teams are contending for a Super Bowl while identifying others which are playing for next season, by the time Week 10 of the NFL season rolls around. Players and coaches may begin to circle games on the calendar that have playoff implications or could prove to be vital in the hunt for a division title.

But more than halfway through the regular season, the AFC is nothing short of a mess. 

With Tom Brady now in the NFC, many assumed Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs would claim the AFC. Now, they’re a team that is lucky to be 5-4. Kansas City’s offense has been average at best, and their defense ranks near the bottom of the league in just about every relevant statistic.

As a result, the Tennessee Titans have taken over as the top seed in the AFC through nine weeks. While the Titans have looked solid at times, they are without their best player, running back Derrick Henry, for the foreseeable future. Additionally, a glaring loss to the New York Jets dampens an otherwise strong resume.

Baltimore is the only other team with less than three losses, and no squad looks unbeatable.