To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Pitt coach Jamie Dixon about having so many other great coaches in the ACC.
In the 1987 NCAA tourney as a player at TCU you scored 10 points in a 1-point loss to Notre Dame: do you think David Rivers stepped out-of-bounds before the ref whistled you for fouling him with four seconds left? I am pretty sure of it: if we had instant replay back then it might have been a different outcome.
In the 2007 NCAA tourney as head coach at Pitt you had a 5-point overtime win over VCU: how were you able to recover after the Rams overcame a 19-point deficit in the second half? It was an interesting game. We made it real easy at first and got out to a big lead. VCU had beaten Duke right before that so we knew they were good and how they would play. It got ugly down the stretch but we were able to pull out the win.
In March 2008 you had a 7-point overtime win over Louisville to knock them out of the Big East tourney for the third straight year: what is the secret to beating Rick Pitino in March? There was a stretch there where people did not want to play us at the Garden: we have an unbelievable record there. We made the title game seven times in an 8-year span from 2001-2008.
Starting in 2009 you were named national Coach of the Year for three straight years by three different organizations: what did it mean to you to receive such outstanding honors? It meant that we had a nice program. Awards are a 1-year deal but we have maintained our consistency over time. We are not a 1-year wonder that spends the next three years rebuilding!
In February 2010 Brad Wanamaker had 24 points and 10 assists in a 3-point, triple-overtime win over West Virginia: how do you explain the Backyard Brawl rivalry to people who have never experienced it firsthand? It is something we would like to do down the road. It carries more weight and has more tradition for our football team, but it was a great basketball rivalry due to the schools being only two hours away. The unique thing about us is that we have so many different rivalries that we cannot play everyone our fans want us to play.
In the 2011 NCAA tourney Nasir Robinson scored 16 points (7-9 FG) but fouled Matt Howard with 0.8 seconds left in a 1-point loss to Butler: how do you react as a coach when a player does something that he later called “the dumbest mistake of my life”, and did you have any sense of redemption after an overtime win over the Bulldogs in the 2012 CBI? You want to win every game, but the main thing was how Nasir handled it: that said a lot. It is 1 thing to win a lot of games but it is another thing to represent your university in the correct way. 2012 was a tough year for us due to so many injuries, but we responded very well by the end of the season.
In the 2012 CBI title game, CBI MVP Lamar Patterson scored 14 points in a 6-point win over Washington State: what did it mean to you to win a title? It was not about a title: it was about Lamar not quitting and being able to get drafted by an NBA team a couple years later. Our team just battled through some unbelievable challenges: we showed how to handle adversity and not quit.
In the 2014 NCAA tourney Scottie Wilbekin scored 21 points in a win by Florida: what did your team learn from that game that you think can help you this year? Hopefully we learned that defense wins championships. Florida may not have won the title last year, but they were certainly the best team in the country going into the tourney.
You already had some legendary coaches in the ACC like Mike Krzyzewski/Jim Boeheim/Roy Williams: how awesome is the conference going to be after adding two more legends in Danny Manning and Rick Pitino? It is pretty normal now because it is a reflection of being in the best conference in the country. We were in the best conference in the nation when we were in the Big East before moving to the best conference in the nation now here in the ACC. With the new guys coming in it is just more of the same.
What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? Our goal is to become a great defensive team because we have not been where we need to be in the past. We need some more toughness and execution.