Jamie Dixon is under fire right now by the fans of the Panthers. They continue to bring up the fact that he hasn’t been able to get his teams to the Final 4.
Many fans believe that Dixon was outcoached by Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun yesterday at the Big East Tournament. The fans are wondering why Pittsburgh switched on a high ball screen late in the game. Instead, McGhee was left on Kemba Walker and got embarrassed. Pitt generally switches late in games and UCONN noticed that. Dixon probably should have done something different to slow down Connecticut, but especially Walker. Everybody who watched that game knew it was going to him so why not double? Why would you switch McGhee on Walker? All are questions I am sure Dixon is thinking about. He isn’t flashy with his game plans, but I would agree that he needs to mix things up at the end of games. But now it is time to learn and move on.
Dixon has done some incredible things since taking over for Ben Howland in 2003. He is 215-59 in his head coaching career. In only eight seasons, Dixon tied Gonzaga’s Mark Few and North Carolina’s Roy Williams for the fastest to 200 victories. Many people around the program didn’t want Dixon as their head coach. They wanted the program to go another way. The late Skip Prosser was one of the main targets along with John Calipari.
He may not get the best recruits, but he always gets the absolute best out of them. Hopefully, for Pitt, they will start getting better recruits to push them over the hump. Next season they are getting Khem Birch, a 6’9 McDonald’s All-American center, who is the number one rated center coming out of high school. Dante Taylor was a McDonald’s All-American a couple years ago so maybe this will be the new trend for the Panthers.
There are few coaches that could do what Dixon has done so far. He consistently has won 20+ games, 10+ Big East games and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament in every season at Pitt. Oh yeah, he has also done that with only one McDonald’s All-American. Taylor is a guy who hasn’t even produced to the level we all expected, but nevertheless.
Some of the best coaches in College Basketball need top-tier recruits to compete. Some coaches get those players and still have down seasons. Dixon has done it with players who are generally not highly recruited. Lastly, Pitt plays in one of the best conferences year in and year out.
Recruiting has a big part in winning a National Championship. That is one thing that I do wish Dixon did better, but recruiting top players will open up a whole new can of worms. Better players might mean underclassmen who declare for the NBA Draft which can really set a program back.
With this year being Pitt’s best chance to make a Final 4, the pressure will be high. The field is wide open, they will probably be a number one seed and they have experience which should benefit them. It will be a major disappointment if he doesn’t get them there this year.
Dixon gets blamed when the Panthers get bounced in the tournament, but doesn’t get the respect he deserves as a whole. Maybe this will be the year where he can silence his critics.
About the Author
Written by Justin Welton
Born in Franklin, PA. Life-long Pittsburgh sports fan + Boston Celtics. Attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Working for WCUC - 91.7 and WCUB-TV. Clarion Call writer for two years.