The Capel coaching family is savoring every NBA playoff win by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jeff Capel is an assistant with the Sixers, who are on the verge of eliminating the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He has two sons in college coaching — Jeff III is an assistant at Duke and Jason is head coach at Appalachian State — and both are able to keep a close watch on their dad’s recent success during their offseasons.
“This is my first win in the playoffs (in Game 2) so I was really excited the other night,” Jeff Capel said. “Both my boys called me and congratulated me on getting my first win in the playoffs. We talk every day pretty much, the three of us bouncing ideas off each other. As much advice as I give them, I get from them. It’s really good.”
His first trip to the NBA playoffs came with the Charlotte Bobcats two years ago; he was an assistant on Larry Brown’s staff. That trip ended quickly though — the Bobcats were swept in the first round by the Orlando Magic. However, the eighth-seeded 76ers are up 3-1 against the Bulls in the best-of-seven series and can advance to the conference semifinals with a win in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Few people can understand Jeff Capel’s emotions during these playoffs quite like his sons, who go through the same thing from November through March with the Blue Devils and Mountaineers.
“The thing is we don’t take it for granted, that’s the big thing,” said Jeff III, who was also head coach at VCU and Oklahoma. “We’re excited. We know this is a very hard profession that we’ve chosen that has very high highs and really low lows.
“One of the things dad tried to teach Jason and I as we were growing up is it’s always somewhere in the middle. Your highs can’t be too high and your lows can’t be too low ... but we’re excited right now.”
They haven’t made it to a game in person yet, but they’ll get more chances the longer the Sixers keep playing in the playoffs.
“It’s awesome because in the coaching profession, nothing’s ever promised,” Jason said. “We’re all really proud of him and I’m definitely glued to the television, cheering on the Sixers. I’m even cheering on Elton Brand, who kicked my butt a few times when he was at Duke.”
Jeff Capel spent 12 years as a college head coach at Fayetteville State, North Carolina A&T and Old Dominion. He also was a head coach in the NBA Development League before becoming an assistant for the Bobcats in their inaugural season in 2004–05 and remaining with the franchise until Brown’s firing in December 2010.
He joined Doug Collins’ staff with the Sixers in November. Doug’s son, Chris, is an assistant alongside Jeff III with the Blue Devils.
Both Jeff III and Jason grew up watching their father work the sideline first in high school and then in college, including when they were Wake Forest ball boys while their father was an assistant there in the 1980s. In fact, an 11-year-old Jeff III appeared on the cover of Wake Forest’s 1986–87 media guide alongside Demon Deacons star and eventual NBA point guard Muggsy Bogues.
Once they reached college, both sons were starters on teams that reached the Final Four. Jeff III was a freshman starter for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke in 1994, while Jason was a junior starter for North Carolina in 2000.
Yet when the sons looked to follow their father into coaching, Jeff Capel tried to sway them to do something else. He even tried to persuade Jeff III to go to law school before ultimately giving him a job as his assistant at Old Dominion.
“It’s a tough way to make a living,” Jeff Capel said. “When you’re a coach and in a bad stretch, everybody suffers. Everybody suffers around you — your wife, your kids, your dog, everybody. I didn’t want them to go through that, but it’s a passion they have, it’s ingrained in them, just like me.”
Maybe that’s why these days are so special to the family.
“They followed us around, taking us to tournament after tournament during our lives,” Jason said. “Now’s a time when we can focus and cheer on dad and cheer on his team.” — (AP)
For many Black college basketball fans around the country, this is a very special time. It’s CIAA time. The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association is the oldest Black college conference in the nation.
The CIAA tournament is currently being played at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. The CIAA has one of the best basketball tournaments on any level. Jeff Capel, Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach, is quite familiar with the history and long standing tradition of the CIAA. Capel was a terrific basketball coach at Fayetteville State University. The Broncos are long time members of the CIAA.
“The CIAA is the oldest college basketball tournament,” Capel said. “In my opinion, it’s the best. It’s like homecoming for all the historically Black colleges. It’s a homecoming for all of them at the same time. You get to go there and see people you haven’t seen in 15 to 20 years. It’s just a great experience. I wish I could make it this year, but I can’t get there because of our schedule.”
Capel was the head coach at Fayetteville State from 1989-93. He compiled a 64-51 overall record. Capel also coached former NBA standout Darrell Armstrong at Fayetteville State. Armstrong wasn’t drafted by any NBA team. After playing professionally in the USBL, CBA and overseas, he finally landed in the NBA with the Orlando Magic in 1995. He played 14 seasons in the NBA.
Immediately following his playing career, he became an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks. During the 2010-11 season, he helped the Mavericks win the NBA championship over the Miami Heat.
“I coached Darrell down there,” Capel said. “He was good athlete. He worked extremely hard to get better. He’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached in my 37 years in this business. He just had that attitude that if you think he couldn’t do something then he worked his butt off until he could do it. Nothing ever stopped him that’s why he was able to play 14 years in the NBA. Not having been drafted, I remember when he finished playing for me at Fayetteville State.
“I tried to get him in the World Basketball League. I tried to get him in that. He ended up getting cut. He ended up going back home and working for a year. That was the only job he could get. Then, the next summer I got him an opportunity to play in the USBL. He did great there and went overseas. Then, he came back and the Magic ended up picking him up. He had a great career from there. He sent me a picture of his (championship) ring. He thought he was going to get one a few years before when they had the Heat down 3-1.”
Capel is from Fayetteville, N.C. That’s CIAA country. The conference served as a springboard for his coaching career. After leaving Fayetteville State, he took over the head coaching job at North Carolina A&T, an HBCU in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He spent two years with the Aggies leading them to a MEAC championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Capel continued to climb the ladder in college basketball. In 1994, he was named the head basketball coach at Old Dominion. He spent six years as the Monarchs head coach compiling a 109-80 record. Capel received national attention when he guided Old Dominion to an 89-81 triple overtime win over Big East Conference champion Villanova in the NCAA first round game. That victory was his 100th of his career.
After leaving ODU, he was the head coach of the Fayetteville Patriots of the NBA Development League during the 2001-02 season. The following year, he led the Patriots to the D-League Finals.
Capel moved to the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats in 2004-05 as an assistant. In his final year with the Bobcats in 2009-10, he was on Larry Brown’s coaching staff and that season Charlotte made its first playoff appearance.
Capel is now in his second season as the Sixers assistant. His sons, Jeff Capel III is an assistant coach on Mike Krzyzewski’s staff at Duke and Jason Capel is the head basketball coach at Appalachian State. The Capel family has enjoyed the tournament over the years. Capel has seen and played against some of the CIAA basketball greats.
“They love it down there,” said Capel, who played basketball for Fayetteville State. “I’m sure Jeff and Jason will both probably go at least one day down in Charlotte. I saw Earl Monroe play (at Winston-Salem State, John Bartram, NBA) my senior year in high school. I saw Bobby Dandridge play (at Norfolk State). I played against Mike Gale (at Elizabeth City State, NBA). Mike’s from Philly (former Overbrook High star).
“You know, we had great players and great coaches from the CIAA like John McLendon, (Clarence) “Bighouse” Gaines and just so many guys. It’s just a great tournament.”
The CIAA semifinals will be held on Friday. The championship game will be played on Saturday night.