Pitt’s Justin Champagnie, teammates sort out lengthy season by staying hungry

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Pitt sophomore guard Trey McGowens acknowledged the look on Justin Champagnie’s face because the 18-year-old freshman left the courtroom Saturday at Petersen Occasions Middle.

“Sort of like the identical I had within the Louisville recreation (final season),” McGowens stated, “once I hugged coach strolling off the courtroom (after scoring a freshman file 33 factors).

“It was good to see that. That’s at all times feeling.”

Champagnie allowed himself a second to take pleasure in his 30-point effort in opposition to Georgia Tech. Then, it was again to work.

Solely hours after the cleanup crew swept away the ultimate bits of confetti, Champagnie had a basketball in his fingers on the identical ground the place he had simply hit 12 of 17 pictures.

“He was within the fitness center at 1 o’clock within the morning simply working, nonetheless,” McGowens stated. “He stays hungry.”

Requested if he believes his single-game freshman scoring file is in jeopardy, McGowens smiled and stated,“I feel Justin goes to interrupt it.”

Pitt (15-9, 6-7) is within the remaining levels of the season, attempting to make an influence within the ACC after shedding all 18 convention video games two years in the past, the ultimate season with Kevin Stallings as coach.

After taking part in about three video games each seven days since Jan. 4, Pitt embarks on one other three-in-seven stretch Wednesday on the Pete in opposition to Clemson (11-12, 5-8). That’s instantly adopted by journeys to Virginia Tech and Florida State on Saturday and Feb. 18, respectively.

With seven video games remaining within the new 20-game ACC schedule, Pitt is in eighth place however only one12 video games out of fourth (and the reward of a double bye within the convention match).

Coach Jeff Capel acknowledged the robust schedule his gamers have had this season — they gained’t have an off week in 2020 till after the final regular-season recreation March 4. However he insists his gamers get away from basketball on days when there isn’t any apply.

McGowens stated he spends time with teammates and does schoolwork when he’s not within the fitness center.

“Getting remedy is the one time try to be within the Pete (on off days),” he stated. “It’s type of irritating simply being right here on a regular basis. Being away is the most effective factor you are able to do.”

When the books are put away and so they have studied sufficient video of the following opponent, McGowens and sophomore level guard Xavier Johnson stated they attempt to get eight-to-nine hours of sleep each evening. Johnson stated he additionally watches his weight-reduction plan, sticking to salads and greens for essentially the most half.

“If you wish to achieve success, that’s what it takes,” Johnson stated.

Johnson stated he weighs about the identical as he did as a freshman (200 kilos), however he has extra muscle unfold all through his 6-foot-Three body.

On the courtroom, practices are a bit shorter later within the season, particularly with only some days between video games. McGowens, nevertheless, emphasised they’re no much less intense.

“The most important factor coach stresses is a day like (Monday) he’ll (say), ‘We’re shifting half velocity, however speaking, depth is 100%.’ ”

The payoff has been Pitt’s means to complete robust after shedding 13 in a row final season in video games that always had been up for grabs inside the ultimate eight minutes.

In 11 ACC video games because the new yr, Pitt has shot a greater proportion within the second half eight occasions, together with 4 of higher than 50%.

Capel wouldn’t be a lot of a coach if he didn’t fear about his staff hitting a wall late within the season, however he’s inspired by the outcomes to this point.

“This yr we’ve finished a greater job of having the ability to shut,” he stated.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Evaluate employees author. You possibly can contact Jerry by electronic mail at [email protected] or through Twitter .


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