Pitt HC Jeff Capel Updates Injuries to Nike Sibande, William Jeffress – Sports Illustrated

  • September 28, 2022

PITTSBURGH — As the Pitt Panthers opened official practices for the 2022-23 season this week, they have two major injuries that they are hoping will be far in their rearview by the time the regular season opener against UT Martin rolls around. 
The most pressing development is that of Nike Sibande's ACL, which he tore around this time last year. He just recently began participating in full contact, five-on-five drills and the plan, according to Capel, is to continue bringing Sibande along slowly and increase his workload week by week.
“There'll be some limitations as far as practice is concerned," Capel said. "I want to make sure it’s a build-up for him so he won’t do 100% of the practice. I think the goal this week is to do 80%. … We’ll just kind of play it by ear and see how he is this week."
Their caution with Sibande's knee has more to do with the fact that there is a mental hurdle to overcome than a physical one. When recovering from an injury that severe, a player needs to be confident that the repairs will hold up. 
"I was happy to see him take some hits and get back up and keep going because I think structurally, everything is fine but the last part of it – and sometimes the most difficult part of it – is the mental aspect of recovering from an injury like that," Capel said. 
Capel had more good news to share later in his first press conference of the new season. He said that forward Will Jeffress, who underwent surgery on an injured left foot earlier this month, is on track to be back by the Panthers' first exhibition game against Clarion, scheduled for roughly a month from now. 
"I definitely think – knock on wood – that he’ll be ready by the regular season," Capel said. "The goal is – we’re hopeful to have him back by the first exhibition.”
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Stephen Thompson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications and political science from Pitt in April 2022 after spending four years as a sports writer and editor at The Pitt News, the University of Pittsburgh’s independent, student-run newspaper. He primarily worked the Pitt men’s basketball beat, and filled in on coverage of football, volleyball, softball, gymnastics and lacrosse, in addition to other sports as needed. His work at The Pitt News has won awards from the Pennsylvania News Media Association and Associated College Press. During the spring and summer of 2021, Stephen interned for Pittsburgh Sports Now, covering baseball in western Pennsylvania. Hailing from Washington D.C., family ties have cultivated a love of Boston’s professional teams and Pitt athletics, and a fascination with sports in general.