Looking back at Mike Capocci's lackluster four years in Evanston, one rare moment of brilliance stands out like Mimi Rogers' "assets" in The Rapture (no, not the fake rapture that didn't happen, the 1991 movie. Here's a sneak peek (be careful at work), definitely a film worth checking out.), and that was his performance against Ohio State in late January. Starting for the injured John Shurna, Capocci had 11 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes, showed an offensive prowess he'd yet to show in three and a half seasons, and helped Northwestern come within a point of taking out the #1 team in the country. The 11 points marked the second highest single-game total of his career, and his highest against a Division 1 opponent; he had 12 points (to go along with 7 steals, 6 assists and 5 rebounds) as a freshman against Division 3 Benedictine.
The following week, Rodger emailed me several ideas for future articles, and one of them was "Is Mike Capocci actually good or is this some sort of sick joke?". That particular article didn't make the cut, but had it been written the analysis would have been slanted heavily towards sick joke, as Capocci would score just 4 points total in the final 11 games of his career.
While it's easy to make jokes, Capocci does deserve credit for always working hard in practice and improving enough to make occasional contributions as a senior. His offensive repertoire never advanced much beyond dunks and lay-ups, but he made big strides in other areas over the course of his four years. Early in his career, Capocci looked out of sync on both ends of the court, frequently committing unforced turnovers on offense and out of control fouls on defense (who can forget the 2010 Big Ten tournament when he closed out on E'Twaun Moore with such reckless abandon that he ended up hip-checking Moore into the scorers' table). To borrow a baseball term, Capocci improved to replacement level, in that he could spell one of the regulars for a few minutes without being a liability, and that was a big help at times.
Capocci may have had his struggles on the court, but he apparently excelled in the classroom, as the Big Ten Network announcing crews frequently praised him for his high GPA. In fact, Capocci was such a dedicated student that he once passed out and gave himself a concussion while studying. He won't have a future in pro basketball, but don't feel too bad for him; he's going pro in something other than sports, and will probably make more money doing it than I'll ever see.